18 May 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Low-risk limits recommended for alcohol consumption vary substantially across different national guidelines. To define thresholds associated with lowest risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease, we studied individual-participant data from 599 912 current drinkers without previous cardiovascular disease.

METHODS: We did a combined analysis of individual-participant data from three large-scale data sources in 19 high-income countries (the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, EPIC-CVD, and the UK Biobank). We characterised dose-response associations and calculated hazard ratios (HRs) per 100 g per week of alcohol (12.5 units per week) across 83 prospective studies, adjusting at least for study or centre, age, sex, smoking, and diabetes. To be eligible for the analysis, participants had to have information recorded about their alcohol consumption amount and status (ie, non-drinker vs current drinker), plus age, sex, history of diabetes and smoking status, at least 1 year of follow-up after baseline, and no baseline history of cardiovascular disease. The main analyses focused on current drinkers, whose baseline alcohol consumption was categorised into eight predefined groups according to the amount in grams consumed per week. We assessed alcohol consumption in relation to all-cause mortality, total cardiovascular disease, and several cardiovascular disease subtypes. We corrected HRs for estimated long-term variability in alcohol consumption using 152 640 serial alcohol assessments obtained some years apart (median interval 5.6 years [5th-95th percentile 1.04-13.5]) from 71 011 participants from 37 studies.

FINDINGS: In the 599 912 current drinkers included in the analysis, we recorded 40 310 deaths and 39 018 incident cardiovascular disease events during 5.4 million person-years of follow-up. For all-cause mortality, we recorded a positive and curvilinear association with the level of alcohol consumption, with the minimum mortality risk around or below 100 g per week. Alcohol consumption was roughly linearly associated with a higher risk of stroke (HR per 100 g per week higher consumption 1.14, 95% CI, 1.10-1.17), coronary disease excluding myocardial infarction (1.06, 1.00-1.11), heart failure (1.09, 1.03-1.15), fatal hypertensive disease (1.24, 1.15-1.33); and fatal aortic aneurysm (1.15, 1.03-1.28). By contrast, increased alcohol consumption was log-linearly associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction (HR 0.94, 0.91-0.97). In comparison to those who reported drinking >0-100-200-350 g per week had lower life expectancy at age 40 years of approximately 6 months, 1-2 years, or 4-5 years, respectively.

INTERPRETATION: In current drinkers of alcohol in high-income countries, the threshold for lowest risk of all-cause mortality was about 100 g/week. For cardiovascular disease subtypes other than myocardial infarction, there were no clear risk thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with lower disease risk. These data support limits for alcohol consumption that are lower than those recommended in most current guidelines.

FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework 7, and European Research Council.

18 May 2018 In Cancer

Recent evidence suggested a weak relationship between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer (PC) risk. In our study, the association between lifetime and baseline alcohol intakes and the risk of PC was evaluated, including the type of alcoholic beverages and potential interaction with smoking. Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, 1,283 incident PC (57% women) were diagnosed from 476,106 cancer-free participants, followed up for 14 years. Amounts of lifetime and baseline alcohol were estimated through lifestyle and dietary questionnaires, respectively. Cox proportional hazard models with age as primary time variable were used to estimate PC hazard ratios (HR) and their 95% confidence interval (CI). Alcohol intake was positively associated with PC risk in men. Associations were mainly driven by extreme alcohol levels, with HRs comparing heavy drinkers (>60 g/day) to the reference category (0.1-4.9 g/day) equal to 1.77 (95% CI: 1.06, 2.95) and 1.63 (95% CI: 1.16, 2.29) for lifetime and baseline alcohol, respectively. Baseline alcohol intakes from beer (>40 g/day) and spirits/liquors (>10 g/day) showed HRs equal to 1.58 (95% CI: 1.07, 2.34) and 1.41 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.94), respectively, compared to the reference category (0.1-2.9 g/day). In women, HR estimates did not reach statistically significance. The alcohol and PC risk association was not modified by smoking status. Findings from a large prospective study suggest that baseline and lifetime alcohol intakes were positively associated with PC risk, with more apparent risk estimates for beer and spirits/liquors than wine intake.

03 May 2018 In General Health
Aims: To review the effectiveness of responsible drinking messages (RDMs). Methods: We searched PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Google Scholar to June 2016 for studies evaluating the effectiveness of RDMs. Only eight studies met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Due to a small number of search results and broad inconsistency in methods and outcome measures, quantitative synthesis was not possible so a narrative summary of findings was conducted. Results: A review of findings from these articles suggested a disjointed approach in terms of the format and content of RDMs evaluated, as well as the dependent variables used to judge their effectiveness. An overall pattern emerged suggesting that RDMs may have beneficial effects across various outcome measures, including reducing prospective alcohol use. However, due to the inconsistent approach to both the development and evaluation of RDMs, it was not possible to draw any clear conclusions in terms of effectiveness, or indeed the potential size of any effects. Conclusions: A systematic approach to the development and evaluation of RDMs is recommended to ensure that a clearer evidence base is established in this area, particularly in light of the substantial public funds which are often spent on RDM campaigns. Short summary: A systematic review of studies evaluating the effectiveness of responsible drinking message campaigns reveals an inconsistent approach to message design and evaluation. Findings of the review suggest the need for a more consistent approach to aid in the development of a clearer evidence base in this area
03 May 2018 In General Health
BACKGROUND: Hazardous and harmful alcohol use and high blood pressure are central risk factors related to premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality worldwide. A reduction in the prevalence of both risk factors has been suggested as a route to reach the global NCD targets. This study aims to highlight that screening and interventions for hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use in primary healthcare can contribute substantially to achieving the NCD targets. METHODS: A consensus conference based on systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical guidelines, experimental studies, and statistical modelling which had been presented and discussed in five preparatory meetings, was undertaken. Specifically, we modelled changes in blood pressure distributions and potential lives saved for the five largest European countries if screening and appropriate intervention rates in primary healthcare settings were increased. Recommendations to handle alcohol-induced hypertension in primary healthcare settings were derived at the conference, and their degree of evidence was graded. RESULTS: Screening and appropriate interventions for hazardous alcohol use and use disorders could lower blood pressure levels, but there is a lack in implementing these measures in European primary healthcare. Recommendations included (1) an increase in screening for hypertension (evidence grade: high), (2) an increase in screening and brief advice on hazardous and harmful drinking for people with newly detected hypertension by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (evidence grade: high), (3) the conduct of clinical management of less severe alcohol use disorders for incident people with hypertension in primary healthcare (evidence grade: moderate), and (4) screening for alcohol use in hypertension that is not well controlled (evidence grade: moderate). The first three measures were estimated to result in a decreased hypertension prevalence and hundreds of saved lives annually in the examined countries. CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of the outlined recommendations could contribute to reducing the burden associated with hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use and thus to achievement of the NCD targets. Implementation should be conducted in controlled settings with evaluation, including, but not limited to, economic evaluation
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