26 February 2019 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Low-risk thresholds for alcohol use differ across various national guidelines. To assess the novel WHO risk drinking levels in light of alcohol-sensitive common laboratory tests, we analysed biomarkers of liver status, inflammation and lipid profiles from a population-based survey of individuals classified to abstainers and different WHO risk drinking levels defined in terms of mean alcohol consumption per day. The study included 22,327 participants aged 25-74 years from the National FINRISK Study. Data on alcohol use, health status, diet, body weight and lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity) were recorded from structured interviews. Alcohol data from self-reports covering the past 12 months were used to categorize the participants into subgroups of abstainers and WHO risk drinking categories representing low, moderate, high and very high risk drinkers. Serum liver enzymes (GGT, ALT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipid profiles were measured using standard laboratory techniques. Alcohol risk category was roughly linearly related with the occurrence of elevated values for GGT, ALT and CRP. Alcohol drinking also significantly influenced the incidence of abnormalities in serum lipids. Significantly higher odds for abnormal GGT, ALT and altered lipid profiles remained in alcohol drinkers even after adjustment for age, waist circumference, physical inactivity, smoking and coffee consumption. A more systematic use of laboratory tests during treatment of individuals classified to WHO risk drinking categories may improve the assessment of alcohol-related health risks. Follow-ups of biomarker responses may also prove to be useful in health interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

22 February 2019 In Cardiovascular System
Importance: More than 1 million older adults develop heart failure annually. The association of alcohol consumption with survival among these individuals after diagnosis is unknown. Objective: To determine whether alcohol use is associated with increased survival among older adults with incident heart failure. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study included 5888 community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or older who were recruited to participate in the Cardiovascular Health Study between June 12, 1989, and June 1993, from 4 US sites. Of the total participants, 393 individuals had a new diagnosis of heart failure within the first 9 years of follow-up through June 2013. The study analysis was performed between January 19, 2016, and September 22, 2016. Exposures: Alcohol consumption was divided into 4 categories: abstainers (never drinkers), former drinkers, 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week, and more than 7 drinks per week. Primary Outcomes and Measures: Participant survival after the diagnosis of incident heart failure. Results: Among the 393 adults diagnosed with incident heart failure, 213 (54.2%) were female, 339 (86.3%) were white, and the mean (SD) age was 78.7 (6.0) years. Alcohol consumption after diagnosis was reported in 129 (32.8%) of the participants. Across alcohol consumption categories of long-term abstainers, former drinkers, consumers of 1-7 drinks weekly and consumers of more than 7 drinks weekly, the percentage of men (32.1%, 49.0%, 58.0%, and 82.4%, respectively; P < .001 for trend), white individuals (78.0%, 92.7%, 92.0%, and 94.1%, respectively, P <. 001 for trend), and high-income participants (22.0%, 43.8%, 47.3%, and 64.7%, respectively; P < .001 for trend) increased with increasing alcohol consumption. Across the 4 categories, participants who consumed more alcohol had more years of education (mean, 12 years [interquartile range (IQR), 8.0-10.0 years], 12 years [IQR, 11.0-14.0 years], 13 years [IQR, 12.0-15.0 years], and 13 years [IQR, 12.0-14.0 years]; P < .001 for trend). Diabetes was less common across the alcohol consumption categories (32.1%, 26.0%, 22.3%, and 5.9%, respectively; P = .01 for trend). Across alcohol consumption categories, there were fewer never smokers (58.3%, 44.8%, 35.7%, and 29.4%, respectively; P < .001 for trend) and more former smokers (34.5%, 38.5%, 50.0%, and 52.9%, respectively; P = .006 for trend). After controlling for other factors, consumption of 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week was associated with additional mean survival of 383 days (95% CI, 17-748 days; P = .04) compared with abstinence from alcohol. Although the robustness was limited by the small number of individuals who consumed more than 7 drinks per week, a significant inverted U-shaped association between alcohol consumption and survival was observed. Multivariable model estimates of mean time from heart failure diagnosis to death were 2640 days (95% CI, 1967-3313 days) for never drinkers, 3046 days (95% CI, 2372-3719 days) for consumers of 0 to 7 drinks per week, and 2806 (95% CI, 1879-3734 days) for consumers of more than 7 drinks per week (P = .02). Consumption of 10 drinks per week was associated with the longest survival, a mean of 3381 days (95% CI, 2806-3956 days) after heart failure diagnosis. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that limited alcohol consumption among older adults with incident heart failure is associated with survival benefit compared with long-term abstinence. These findings suggest that older adults who develop heart failure may not need to abstain from moderate levels of alcohol consumption
05 December 2018 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Some of the previously reported health benefits of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may derive from health status influencing alcohol consumption rather than the opposite. We examined whether health status changes influence changes in alcohol consumption, cessation included.

METHODS: Data came from 571 current drinkers aged >/=60 years participating in the Seniors-ENRICA cohort in Spain. Participants were recruited in 2008-2010 and followed-up for 8.2 years, with four waves of data collection. We assessed health status using a 52-item deficit accumulation (DA) index with four domains: functional, self-rated health and vitality, mental health, and morbidity and health services use. To minimise reverse causation, we examined how changes in health status over a 3-year period (wave 0-wave 1) influenced changes in alcohol consumption over the subsequent 5 years (waves 1-3) using linear/logistic regression, as appropriate.

RESULTS: Compared with participants in the lowest tertile of DA change (mean absolute 4.3% health improvement), those in the highest tertile (7.8% worsening) showed a reduction in alcohol intake (beta: -4.32 g/day; 95% CI -7.00 to -1.62; p trend=0.002) and were more likely to quit alcohol (OR: 2.80; 95% CI 1.54 to 5.08; p trend=0.001). The main contributors to decreasing drinking were increased functional impairment and poorer self-rated health, whereas worsening self-rated health, onset of diabetes or stroke and increased prevalence of hospitalisation influenced cessation.

CONCLUSIONS: Health deterioration is related to a subsequent reduction and cessation of alcohol consumption contributing to the growing evidence challenging the protective health effect previously attributed to low-to-moderate alcohol consumption.

06 September 2018 In Dementia

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between alcohol consumption and risk of dementia.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Civil service departments in London (Whitehall II study).

PARTICIPANTS: 9087 participants aged 35-55 years at study inception (1985/88).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incident dementia, identified through linkage to hospital, mental health services, and mortality registers until 2017. Measures of alcohol consumption were the mean from three assessments between 1985/88 and 1991/93 (midlife), categorised as abstinence, 1-14 units/week, and >14 units/week; 17 year trajectories of alcohol consumption based on five assessments of alcohol consumption between 1985/88 and 2002/04; CAGE questionnaire for alcohol dependence assessed in 1991/93; and hospital admission for alcohol related chronic diseases between 1991 and 2017.

RESULTS: 397 cases of dementia were recorded over a mean follow-up of 23 years. Abstinence in midlife was associated with a higher risk of dementia (hazard ratio 1.47, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 1.89) compared with consumption of 1-14 units/week. Among those drinking >14 units/week, a 7 unit increase in alcohol consumption was associated with a 17% (95% confidence interval 4% to 32%) increase in risk of dementia. CAGE score >2 (hazard ratio 2.19, 1.29 to 3.71) and alcohol related hospital admission (4.28, 2.72 to 6.73) were also associated with an increased risk of dementia. Alcohol consumption trajectories from midlife to early old age showed long term abstinence (1.74, 1.31 to 2.30), decrease in consumption (1.55, 1.08 to 2.22), and long term consumption >14 units/week (1.40, 1.02 to 1.93) to be associated with a higher risk of dementia compared with long term consumption of 1-14 units/week. Analysis using multistate models suggested that the excess risk of dementia associated with abstinence in midlife was partly explained by cardiometabolic disease over the follow-up as the hazard ratio of dementia in abstainers without cardiometabolic disease was 1.33 (0.88 to 2.02) compared with 1.47 (1.15 to 1.89) in the entire population.

CONCLUSION: The risk of dementia was increased in people who abstained from alcohol in midlife or consumed >14 units/week. In several countries, guidelines define thresholds for harmful alcohol consumption much higher than 14 units/week. The present findings encourage the downward revision of such guidelines to promote cognitive health at older ages.

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