26 August 2022 In General Health

Alcohol consumption is associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and liver disease. The biological mechanisms are still largely unclear. Here, we aimed to use an agnostic approach to identify phenotypes mediating the effect of alcohol on various diseases.

METHODS: We performed an agnostic association analysis between alcohol consumption (red and white wine, beer/cider, fortified wine, and spirits) with over 7800 phenotypes from the UK biobank comprising 223,728 participants. We performed Mendelian randomisation analysis to infer causality. We additionally performed a Phenome-wide association analysis and a mediation analysis between alcohol consumption as exposure, phenotypes in a causal relationship with alcohol consumption as mediators, and various diseases as the outcome.

RESULTS: Of 45 phenotypes in association with alcohol consumption, 20 were in a causal relationship with alcohol consumption. Gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT; beta = 9.44; 95% CI = 5.94, 12.93; Pfdr = 9.04 x 10(-7)), mean sphered cell volume (beta = 0.189; 95% CI = 0.11, 0.27; Pfdr = 1.00 x 10(-4)), mean corpuscular volume (beta = 0.271; 95% CI = 0.19, 0.35; Pfdr = 7.09 x 10(-10)) and mean corpuscular haemoglobin (beta = 0.278; 95% CI = 0.19, 0.36; Pfdr = 1.60 x 10(-6)) demonstrated the strongest causal relationships. We also identified GGT and physical inactivity as mediators in the pathway between alcohol consumption, liver cirrhosis and alcohol dependence.

CONCLUSION: Our study provides evidence of causality between alcohol consumption and 20 phenotypes and a mediation effect for physical activity on health consequences of alcohol consumption.

26 August 2022 In General Health

BACKGROUND: The health risks associated with moderate alcohol consumption continue to be debated. Small amounts of alcohol might lower the risk of some health outcomes but increase the risk of others, suggesting that the overall risk depends, in part, on background disease rates, which vary by region, age, sex, and year.

METHODS: For this analysis, we constructed burden-weighted dose-response relative risk curves across 22 health outcomes to estimate the theoretical minimum risk exposure level (TMREL) and non-drinker equivalence (NDE), the consumption level at which the health risk is equivalent to that of a non-drinker, using disease rates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2020 for 21 regions, including 204 countries and territories, by 5-year age group, sex, and year for individuals aged 15-95 years and older from 1990 to 2020. Based on the NDE, we quantified the population consuming harmful amounts of alcohol.

FINDINGS: The burden-weighted relative risk curves for alcohol use varied by region and age. Among individuals aged 15-39 years in 2020, the TMREL varied between 0 (95% uncertainty interval 0-0) and 0·603 (0·400-1·00) standard drinks per day, and the NDE varied between 0·002 (0-0) and 1·75 (0·698-4·30) standard drinks per day. Among individuals aged 40 years and older, the burden-weighted relative risk curve was J-shaped for all regions, with a 2020 TMREL that ranged from 0·114 (0-0·403) to 1·87 (0·500-3·30) standard drinks per day and an NDE that ranged between 0·193 (0-0·900) and 6·94 (3·40-8·30) standard drinks per day. Among individuals consuming harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020, 59·1% (54·3-65·4) were aged 15-39 years and 76·9% (73·0-81·3) were male.

INTERPRETATION: There is strong evidence to support recommendations on alcohol consumption varying by age and location. Stronger interventions, particularly those tailored towards younger individuals, are needed to reduce the substantial global health loss attributable to alcohol. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

26 August 2022 In Drinking Patterns

INTRODUCTION: A significant amount of binge drinking among adults escapes public health scrutiny because it occurs among individuals who drink at a moderate average level. This observational study examined the role of a binge pattern of drinking in predicting alcohol problems among moderate drinkers in a U.S. national sample of adults.

METHODS: Participants were 1,229 current drinkers aged >/=30 years from 2 waves of the study of Midlife Development in the United States, with a 9-year time lag (2004-2015) (analyzed in 20212022). Negative binomial regression analyses were used to examine the number of alcohol problems, and binary logistic regression analyses were used to examine multiple (>/=2) alcohol problems.

RESULTS: Independent of the average level of drinking, binge drinking was linked with an almost 3 times increase in the number of concurrent alcohol problems and a 40% increase in the number of alcohol problems prospectively 9 years later. Moderate average level drinkers accounted for most cases of binge drinking and multiple alcohol problems. Among moderate drinkers, binge drinking was linked with a close to 5 times increase in concurrent multiple alcohol problems and a >2 times increase in multiple alcohol problems prospectively 9 years later.

CONCLUSIONS: These results substantially broaden an increasing recognition that binge drinking is a public health concern among adults. Moderate average-level drinkers should be included in efforts to reduce alcohol problems in adults. These findings are applicable to primary and secondary prevention of alcohol problems with the potential to advance population health.

26 August 2022 In Drinking Patterns

This review discusses the inconsistent recommendations on alcohol consumption and its association with chronic disease, highlighting the need for an evidence-based consensus. Alcohol is an addictive substance consumed worldwide, especially in European countries. Recommendations on alcohol consumption are controversial.

On one hand, many nonrandomized studies defend that moderate consumption has a beneficial cardiovascular effect or a lower risk of all-cause mortality. On the other hand, alcohol is associated with an increased risk of cancer, neurological diseases, or injuries, among others.

For years, efforts have been made to answer the question regarding the safe amount of alcohol intake, but controversies remain. Observational studies advocate moderate alcohol consumption following a Mediterranean pattern (red wine with meals avoiding binge drinking) as the best option for current drinkers.

However, agencies such as the IARC recommend abstention from alcohol as it is a potent carcinogen. In this context, more randomized trial with larger sample size and hard clinical endpoints should be conducted to clarify the available evidence and provide clinicians with support for their clinical practice.

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