21 September 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVES: To review critical contributions from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) on alcohol consumption and health outcomes.

METHODS: We performed a narrative review of NHS (1980-2012) and NHS II (1989-2011) publications.

RESULTS: Using detailed information on self-reported alcohol drinking patterns obtained approximately every 4 years combined with extensive information on diet, lifestyle habits, and physician-diagnosed health conditions, NHS investigators have prospectively examined the risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption. Moderate intake, defined as up to 1 drink a day, is associated with a lower risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, gallstones, cognitive decline, and all-cause mortality. However, even moderate intake places women at higher risk for breast cancer and bone fractures, and higher intake increases risk for colon polyps and colon cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Regular alcohol intake has both risks and benefits. In analyses using repeated assessments of alcohol over time and deaths from all causes, women with low to moderate intake and regular frequency (> 3 days/week) had the lowest risk of mortality compared with abstainers and women who consumed substantially more than 1 drink per day.

21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

INTRODUCTION: The differential associations of beer, wine, and spirit consumption on cardiovascular risk found in observational studies may be confounded by diet. We described and compared dietary intake and diet quality according to alcoholic beverage preference in European elderly.

METHODS: From the Consortium on Health and Ageing: Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States (CHANCES), seven European cohorts were included, i.e. four sub-cohorts from EPIC-Elderly, the SENECA Study, the Zutphen Elderly Study, and the Rotterdam Study. Harmonized data of 29,423 elderly participants from 14 European countries were analyzed. Baseline data on consumption of beer, wine, and spirits, and dietary intake were collected with questionnaires. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI). Intakes and scores across categories of alcoholic beverage preference (beer, wine, spirit, no preference, non-consumers) were adjusted for age, sex, socio-economic status, self-reported prevalent diseases, and lifestyle factors. Cohort-specific mean intakes and scores were calculated as well as weighted means combining all cohorts.

RESULTS: In 5 of 7 cohorts, persons with a wine preference formed the largest group. After multivariate adjustment, persons with a wine preference tended to have a higher HDI score and intake of healthy foods in most cohorts, but differences were small. The weighted estimates of all cohorts combined revealed that non-consumers had the highest fruit and vegetable intake, followed by wine consumers. Non-consumers and persons with no specific preference had a higher HDI score, spirit consumers the lowest. However, overall diet quality as measured by HDI did not differ greatly across alcoholic beverage preference categories.

DISCUSSION: This study using harmonized data from ~30,000 elderly from 14 European countries showed that, after multivariate adjustment, dietary habits and diet quality did not differ greatly according to alcoholic beverage preference.

21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

AIMS: Unlike adults, abstaining has increased and regular use of alcohol has decreased among 12-16-year-olds over the past two decades. The paper studies whether these developments will be continued as the adolescent cohorts come of age.

METHODS: The Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey is a nationally representative monitoring system of the health habits of 12-, 14-, 16-, and 18-year-old Finns, conducted biannually between 1981 and 2013. The prevalence of alcohol use and drunkenness were measured for each 5-year cohort born in 1967-1995. Age-by-cohort trajectories and hierarchical age-period-cohort (APC) modeling were used to assess effects of age, period, and birth cohort.

RESULTS: Cohorts differentiate for underage drinking, but not at the age of 18. The younger cohorts postpone their drinking debut compared with older cohorts and thus age profiles are steeper than before. The most recent cohorts born in the 1990s, and the oldest cohorts born in 1967-71, have the highest prevalence in abstinence but drinking has been more prevalent for cohorts born in 1973-1989. APC modeling confirms significant cohort effects, but no significant decrease in drinking or drunkenness at the age of 18 years. Some of the changes can also be attributed to period effects.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the decrease in underage drinking in Finland, 18-year-olds continue to drink similarly from cohort to another postponing the onset of drinking has a preventive effect on alcohol-related harms, but a reduction in drinking among adult cohorts is not evident in the future.

21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health, we estimate the effect of peers' alcohol consumption and alcohol prices on the drinking habits of high-school-age youth. We use the two-stage residual inclusion method to account for the endogeneity of peer drinking in nonlinear models. For our sample of high school students, we find that peer effects are statistically and economically significant regarding the choice to participate in drinking but are not significant for the frequency of drinking, including binge drinking. Regarding alcohol prices, even though we have good price variation in our sample, alcohol prices are not found to be significant. The results are important for policymakers who are considering policies to reduce underage drinking, as we conclude that no significant impact on underage drinking will result from low-tax states' increasing excise taxes on alcohol so they are similar to those of high-tax states. Policymakers may choose to focus instead on the influence of peers and changing the social norm behavior.

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