23 November 2022 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a discretionary, energy dense, dietary component. Compared to non-drinkers, people who consume alcohol report higher total energy intake and may be at increased risk of weight gain, overweight, and obesity, which are key preventable risk factors for illness. However, accurate consumer knowledge of the energy content in alcohol is low. To inform future behaviour change interventions among drinkers, this study investigated individual characteristics associated with changing alcohol consumption due to energy-related concerns.

METHODS: An online survey was undertaken with 801 Australian adult drinkers (18-59 years, 50.2% female), i.e. who consumed alcohol at least monthly. In addition to demographic and health-related characteristics, participants reported past-year alcohol consumption, past-year reductions in alcohol consumption, frequency of harm minimisation strategy use (when consuming alcohol), and frequency of changing alcohol consumption behaviours because of energy-related concerns.

RESULTS: When prompted, 62.5% of participants reported changing alcohol consumption for energy-related reasons at least 'sometimes'. Women, those aged 30-44 years, metropolitan residents, those with household income $80,001-120,000, and risky/more frequent drinkers had increased odds of changing consumption because of energy-related concerns, and unemployed respondents had reduced odds.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that some sociodemographic groups are changing alcohol consumption for energy-related reasons, but others are not, representing an underutilised opportunity for health promotion communication. Further research should investigate whether messaging to increase awareness of alcohol energy content, including through systems-based policy actions such as nutritional/energy product labelling, would motivate reduced consumption across a broader range of drinkers.

23 November 2022 In Drinking Patterns

Although excessive alcohol consumption is a highly prevalent public health problem the data on the associations between alcohol consumption and health outcomes in individuals preferring different types of alcoholic beverages has remained unclear. We examined the relationships between the amounts and patterns of drinking with the data on laboratory indices of liver function, lipid status and inflammation in a national population-based health survey (FINRISK). Data on health status, alcohol drinking, types of alcoholic beverages preferred, body weight, smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity were recorded from 22,432 subjects (10,626 men, 11,806 women), age range 25-74 years. The participants were divided to subgroups based on the amounts of regular alcohol intake (abstainers, moderate and heavy drinkers), patterns of drinking (binge or regular) and the type of alcoholic beverage preferred (wine, beer, cider or long drink, hard liquor or mixed). Regular drinking was found to be more typical in wine drinkers whereas the subjects preferring beer or hard liquor were more often binge-type drinkers and cigarette smokers. Alcohol use in all forms was associated with increased frequencies of abnormalities in the markers of liver function, lipid status and inflammation even at rather low levels of consumption. The highest rates of abnormalities occurred, however, in the subgroups of binge-type drinkers preferring beer or hard liquor. These results demonstrate that adverse consequences of alcohol occur even at moderate average drinking levels especially in individuals who engage in binge drinking and in those preferring beer or hard liquor. Further emphasis should be placed on such patterns of drinking in policies aimed at preventing alcohol-induced adverse health outcomes.

23 November 2022 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: The causal effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are continuously debated, especially on coronary artery disease (CAD).

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to explore the causal associations of alcohol consumption with CVDs and all-cause mortality among Chinese males.

METHODS: A prospective cohort study was conducted in 40,386 Chinese males, with 17,676 being genotyped for the rs671 variant in the aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) gene. A Cox proportional hazards model was conducted to estimate the effects of self-reported alcohol consumption. Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis was performed to explore the causality using rs671 as an instrumental variable. RESULTS: During the follow-up of 303,353 person-years, 2406 incident CVDs and 3195 all-cause mortalities were identified. J-shaped associations of self-reported alcohol consumption with incident CVD and all-cause mortality were observed, showing decreased risks for light (</=25 g/d) and moderate drinkers (25-</=60 g/d). However, MR analyses revealed a linear association of genetically predicted alcohol consumption with the incident CVD (P-trend = 0.02), including both CAD (P-trend = 0.03) and stroke (P-trend = 0.02). The HRs (95% CIs) for incident CVD across increasing tertiles of genetically predicted alcohol consumption were 1 (reference), 1.18 (1.01, 1.38), and 1.22 (1.03, 1.46). After excluding heavy drinkers, the risk of incident CVD and all-cause mortality was increased by 27% and 20% per standard drink increment of genetically predicted alcohol consumption, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our analyses extend the evidence of the harmful effect of alcohol consumption to total CVD (including CAD) and all-cause mortality, highlighting the potential health benefits of lowering alcohol consumption, even among light-to-moderate male drinkers.

27 October 2022 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Research has long found 'J-shaped' relationships between alcohol consumption and certain health outcomes, indicating a protective effect of moderate consumption. However, methodological limitations in most studies hinder causal inference. This review aimed to identify all observational studies employing improved approaches to mitigate confounding in characterizing alcohol-long-term health relationships, and to qualitatively synthesize their findings.

METHODS: Eligible studies met the above description, were longitudinal (with pre-defined exceptions), discretized alcohol consumption, and were conducted with human populations. MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase and SCOPUS were searched in May 2020, yielding 16 published manuscripts reporting on cancer, diabetes, dementia, mental health, cardiovascular health, mortality, HIV seroconversion, and musculoskeletal health. Risk of bias of cohort studies was evaluated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, and a recently developed tool was used for Mendelian Randomization studies.

RESULTS: A variety of functional forms were found, including reverse J/J-shaped relationships for prostate cancer and related mortality, dementia risk, mental health, and certain lipids. However, most outcomes were only evaluated by a single study, and few studies provided information on the role of alcohol consumption pattern.

CONCLUSIONS: More research employing enhanced causal inference methods is urgently required to accurately characterize alcohol-long-term health relationships. Those studies that have been conducted find a variety of linear and non-linear functional forms, with results tending to be discrepant even within specific health outcomes.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO registration number CRD42020185861.

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