25 August 2020 In General Health

Epidemiological estimates indicate not only an increase in the proportion of older adults, but also an increase in those who continue moderate alcohol consumption. Substantial literatures have attempted to characterize health benefits/risks of moderate drinking lifestyles. Not uncommonly, reports address outcomes in a single outcome, such as cardiovascular function or cognitive decline, rather than providing a broader overview of systems.

In this narrative review, retaining focus on neurobiological considerations, we summarize key findings regarding moderate drinking and three health domains, cardiovascular health, Type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cognition. Interestingly, few investigators have studied bouts of low/moderate doses of alcohol consumption, a pattern consistent with moderate drinking lifestyles. Here, we address both moderate drinking as a lifestyle and as an acute event. Review of health-related correlates illustrates continuing inconsistencies.

Although substantive reductions in risk for cardiovascular and T2D events are reported, robust conclusions remain elusive. Similarly, whereas moderate drinking is often associated with enhanced cognition and lower dementia risk, few benefits are noted in rates of decline or alterations in brain structure. The effect of sex/gender varies across health domains and by consumption levels. For example, women appear to differentially benefit from alcohol use in terms of T2D, but experience greater risk when considering aspects of cardiovascular function.

Finally, we observe that socially relevant alcohol doses do not consistently impair performance in older adults. Rather, older drinkers demonstrate divergent, but not necessarily detrimental, patterns in neural activation and some behavioral measures relative to younger drinkers. Taken together, the epidemiological and laboratory studies reinforce the need for greater attention to key individual differences and for the conduct of systematic studies sensitive to age-related shifts in neurobiological systems.

25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to: (1) describe alcohol industry corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions conducted across six global geographic regions; (2) identify the benefits accruing to the industry ('doing well'); and (3) estimate the public health impact of the actions ('doing good').

SETTING: Actions from six global geographic regions.

PARTICIPANTS: A web-based compendium of 3551 industry actions, representing the efforts of the alcohol industry to reduce harmful alcohol use, was issued in 2012. The compendium consisted of short descriptions of each action, plus other information about the sponsorship, content and evaluation of the activities. Public health professionals (n=19) rated a sample (n=1046) of the actions using a reliable content rating procedure.

OUTCOME MEASURES: WHO Global strategy target area, estimated population reach, risk of harm, advertising potential, policy impact potential and other aspects of the activity.

RESULTS: The industry actions were conducted disproportionately in regions with high-income countries (Europe and North America), with lower proportions in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Only 27% conformed to recommended WHO target areas for global action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The overwhelming majority (96.8%) of industry actions lacked scientific support (p<0.01) and 11.0% had the potential for doing harm. The benefits accruing to the industry ('doing well') included brand marketing and the use of CSR to manage risk and achieve strategic goals.

CONCLUSION: Alcohol industry CSR activities are unlikely to reduce harmful alcohol use but they do provide commercial strategic advantage while at the same time appearing to have a public health purpose.

25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: The consumption of addictive substances is common in adolescence and raises concerns about future addiction. We investigated addictive substance consumption among young people to inform the design of drug intervention programmes.

METHODS: Participants were a population-based sample of 14- to 24-year-olds from Paredes, northern Portugal. A self-report questionnaire measured social and health variables, including tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug consumption. Results Data were analysed for 731 valid responses. Participants who had drunk alcohol did so first at 14.7 years (mean); 15.3% (95% confidence intervals [CI]: 12.9-18.1) drank alcohol regularly (more than 1/week, adjusted for age and sex) (95% CI: 12.9-18.1). Participants who had smoked tobacco did so first at 14.8 years (mean); 16.6% (95% CI: 14.0-19.5) were regular smokers. Illicit drug consumption was reported by 16.7% of participants (95% CI: 14.2-19.6) and 10.4% consumed drugs regularly.

CONCLUSION: We found a high prevalence of addictive substance consumption, particularly alcohol. As cultural attitudes likely influence alcohol consumption, a multigenerational approach is needed to address adolescent consumption. Participants' main sources of drug information were family members. Strategies are needed to promote drug literacy in parents and other relatives to change adolescents' culturally acquired habits of addictive substance consumption.

25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Individuals with low socioeconomic status (SES) experience disproportionately greater alcohol-attributable health harm than individuals with high SES from similar or lower amounts of alcohol consumption. Our aim was to provide an update of the current evidence for the role of alcohol use and drinking patterns in socioeconomic inequalities in mortality, as well as the effect modification or interaction effects between SES and alcohol use, as two potential explanations of this so-called alcohol-harm paradox.

METHODS: We did a systematic review, searching Embase, Medline, PsycINFO, and Web of Science (published between Jan 1, 2013, and June 30, 2019) for studies reporting alcohol consumption, SES, and mortality. Observational, quantitative studies of the general adult population (aged >/=15 years) with a longitudinal study design were included. Two outcome measures were extracted: first, the proportion of socioeconomic inequalities in mortality explained by alcohol use; and second, the effect modification or interaction between SES and alcohol use regarding mortality risks. This study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019140279).

FINDINGS: Of 1941 records identified, ten met the inclusion criteria. The included studies contained more than 400 000 adults, more than 30 000 deaths from all causes, and more than 3000 100% alcohol-attributable events. Alcohol use explained up to 27% of the socioeconomic inequalities in mortality. The proportion of socioeconomic inequalities explained systematically differed by drinking pattern, with heavy episodic drinking having a potentially significant explanatory value. Although scarce, there was some evidence of effect modification or interaction between SES and alcohol use.

INTERPRETATION: To reduce socioeconomic inequalities in mortality, addressing heavy episodic drinking in particular, rather than alcohol use in general, is worth exploring as a public health strategy.

FUNDING: Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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