25 January 2019 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Epidemiological evidence on the impact of different alcohol drinking patterns on health-care systems or hospitalizations is sparse. We investigated how the different average volumes of alcohol consumed relate to all-cause and cause-specific hospitalizations.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study (baseline 2005-10) linked to a registry of hospital discharge records to identify hospitalizations at follow-up (December 2013).

SETTING: Molise region, Italy.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 20 682 individuals (48% men, age >/= 35 years) who participated in the Moli-sani Study and were free from cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline.

MEASUREMENTS: The alcohol volume consumed in the year before enrolment was classified as: life-time abstainers, former drinkers, occasional drinkers and current drinkers who drank 1-12 (referent), 12.1-24, 24.1-48 and > 48 g/day of alcohol. Cause-specific hospitalizations were assigned by Italian Diagnosis Related Groups classification or by ICD-9 code of main admission diagnoses. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) of hospitalization were estimated by Poisson regression, taking into account the total number of admissions that occurred during the follow-up per person.

FINDINGS: During a median follow-up of 6.3 years, 12 996 multiple hospital admissions occurred. In multivariable analyses, life-time abstainers and former drinkers had higher rates of all-cause [IRR = 1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05-1.17 and IRR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.02-1.31, respectively] and vascular (IRR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.02-1.27 and IRR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.24-1.76, respectively) hospitalizations compared with light alcohol consumers. Alcohol consumption > 48 g/day was associated with a higher rate of hospitalization for both alcohol-related diseases (IRR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.32-2.29) and cancer (IRR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.12-1.65). The magnitude of the association between heavier alcohol intake and hospitalization tended to be greater in smokers than non-smokers. No associations were observed with hospitalization for trauma or neurodegenerative diseases.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol consumption appears to have a modest but complex impact on global hospitalization burden. Heavier drinkers have a higher rate of hospitalization for all causes, including alcohol-related diseases and cancer, a risk that appears to be further magnified by concurrent smoking.

25 January 2019 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use has been identified as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline. However, some patterns of drinking have been associated with beneficial effects.

METHODS AND RESULTS: To clarify the relationship between alcohol use and dementia, we conducted a scoping review based on a systematic search of systematic reviews published from January 2000 to October 2017 by using Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO. Overall, 28 systematic reviews were identified: 20 on the associations between the level of alcohol use and the incidence of cognitive impairment/dementia, six on the associations between dimensions of alcohol use and specific brain functions, and two on induced dementias. Although causality could not be established, light to moderate alcohol use in middle to late adulthood was associated with a decreased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Heavy alcohol use was associated with changes in brain structures, cognitive impairments, and an increased risk of all types of dementia.

CONCLUSION: Reducing heavy alcohol use may be an effective dementia prevention strategy.

05 December 2018 In Liver Disease

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a known cause of cirrhosis, but it is unclear if the associated risk varies by whether alcohol is drunk with meals, or by the frequency or type of alcohol consumed. Here we aim to investigate the associations between alcohol consumption with meals, daily frequency of consumption, and liver cirrhosis.

METHODS: The Million Women Study is a prospective study that includes one in every four UK women born between 1935 and 1950, recruited between 1996 and 2001. In 2001 (IQR 2000-03), the participants reported their alcohol intake, whether consumption was usually with meals, and number of days per week it was consumed. Cox regression analysis yielded adjusted relative risks (RRs) for incident cirrhosis, identified by follow-up through electronic linkage to routinely collected national hospital admission, and death databases.

FINDINGS: During a mean of 15 years (SD 3) of follow-up of 401 806 women with a mean age of 60 years (SD 5), without previous cirrhosis or hepatitis, and who reported drinking at least one alcoholic drink per week, 1560 had a hospital admission with cirrhosis (n=1518) or died from the disease (n=42). Cirrhosis incidence increased with amount of alcohol consumed (>/=15 drinks [mean 220 g of alcohol] vs one to two drinks [mean 30 g of alcohol] per week; RR 3.43, 95% CI 2.87-4.10; p<0.0001). About half of the participants (203 564 of 401 806) reported usually drinking with meals and, after adjusting for amount consumed, cirrhosis incidence was lower for usually drinking with meals than not (RR 0.69, 0.62-0.77; p<0.0001; wine-only drinkers RR 0.69, 0.56-0.85; all other drinkers RR 0.72, 0.63-0.82). Among 175 618 women who consumed seven or more drinks per week, cirrhosis incidence was greater for daily consumption than non-daily consumption (adjusted RR 1.61, 1.40-1.85; p<0.0001). Daily consumption, together with not drinking with meals, was associated with more than a doubling of cirrhosis incidence (adjusted RR 2.47, 1.96-3.11; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: In middle-aged women, cirrhosis incidence increases with total alcohol intake, even at moderate levels of consumption. For a given weekly intake of alcohol, this excess incidence of cirrhosis is higher if consumption is usually without meals, or with daily drinking. FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

29 October 2018 In Cancer

Epidemiological studies have been used to show associations between modifiable lifestyle habits and the incidence of breast cancer. Among such factors, a history of alcohol use has been reported in multiple studies and meta-analyses over the past decades. However, associative epidemiological studies that were interpreted as evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption increases breast cancer incidence have been controversial. In this review, we consider the literature on the relationship between moderate or heavy alcohol use, both in possible biological mechanisms and in variations in susceptibility due to genetic or epigenetic factors. We argue that there is a need to incorporate additional approaches to move beyond the associations that are reported in traditional epidemiological analyses and incorporate information on molecular pathologic signatures as a requirement to posit causal inferences. In particular, we point to the efforts of the transdisciplinary field of molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE) to evaluate possible causal relationships, if any, of alcohol consumption and breast cancer. A wider application of the principles of MPE to this field would constitute a giant step that could enhance our understanding of breast cancer and multiple modifiable risk factors, a step that would be particularly suited to the era of "personalized medicine".

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