06 September 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for death and disability, but its overall association with health remains complex given the possible protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on some conditions. With our comprehensive approach to health accounting within the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016, we generated improved estimates of alcohol use and alcohol-attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 195 locations from 1990 to 2016, for both sexes and for 5-year age groups between the ages of 15 years and 95 years and older.

METHODS: Using 694 data sources of individual and population-level alcohol consumption, along with 592 prospective and retrospective studies on the risk of alcohol use, we produced estimates of the prevalence of current drinking, abstention, the distribution of alcohol consumption among current drinkers in standard drinks daily (defined as 10 g of pure ethyl alcohol), and alcohol-attributable deaths and DALYs. We made several methodological improvements compared with previous estimates: first, we adjusted alcohol sales estimates to take into account tourist and unrecorded consumption; second, we did a new meta-analysis of relative risks for 23 health outcomes associated with alcohol use; and third, we developed a new method to quantify the level of alcohol consumption that minimises the overall risk to individual health.

FINDINGS: Globally, alcohol use was the seventh leading risk factor for both deaths and DALYs in 2016, accounting for 2·2% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 1·5-3·0) of age-standardised female deaths and 6·8% (5·8-8·0) of age-standardised male deaths. Among the population aged 15-49 years, alcohol use was the leading risk factor globally in 2016, with 3·8% (95% UI 3·2-4·3) of female deaths and 12·2% (10·8-13·6) of male deaths attributable to alcohol use. For the population aged 15-49 years, female attributable DALYs were 2·3% (95% UI 2·0-2·6) and male attributable DALYs were 8·9% (7·8-9·9). The three leading causes of attributable deaths in this age group were tuberculosis (1·4% [95% UI 1·0-1·7] of total deaths), road injuries (1·2% [0·7-1·9]), and self-harm (1·1% [0·6-1·5]). For populations aged 50 years and older, cancers accounted for a large proportion of total alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016, constituting 27·1% (95% UI 21·2-33·3) of total alcohol-attributable female deaths and 18·9% (15·3-22·6) of male deaths. The level of alcohol consumption that minimised harm across health outcomes was zero (95% UI 0·0-0·8) standard drinks per week.

INTERPRETATION: Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss. We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimises health loss is zero. These results suggest that alcohol control policies might need to be revised worldwide, refocusing on efforts to lower overall population-level consumption.

06 September 2018 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that alcohol intake trajectories differ in their associations with biomarkers of cardiovascular functioning, but it remains unclear if they also differ in their relationship to actual coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence. Using multiple longitudinal cohort studies, we evaluated the association between long-term alcohol consumption trajectories and CHD.

METHODS: Data were drawn from six cohorts (five British and one French). The combined analytic sample comprised 35,132 individuals (62.1% male; individual cohorts ranging from 869 to 14,247 participants) of whom 4.9% experienced an incident (fatal or non-fatal) CHD event. Alcohol intake across three assessment periods of each cohort was used to determine participants' intake trajectories over approximately 10 years. Time to onset for (i) incident CHD and (ii) fatal CHD was established using surveys and linked medical record data. A meta-analysis of individual participant data was employed to estimate the intake trajectories' association with CHD onset, adjusting for demographic and clinical characteristics.

RESULTS: Compared to consistently moderate drinkers (males: 1-168 g ethanol/week; females: 1-112 g ethanol/week), inconsistently moderate drinkers had a significantly greater risk of incident CHD [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.02-1.37]. An elevated risk of incident CHD was also found for former drinkers (HR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.13-1.52) and consistent non-drinkers (HR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.21-1.78), although, after sex stratification, the latter effect was only evident for females. When examining fatal CHD outcomes alone, only former drinkers had a significantly elevated risk, though hazard ratios for consistent non-drinkers were near identical. No evidence of elevated CHD risk was found for consistently heavy drinkers, and a weak association with fatal CHD for inconsistently heavy drinkers was attenuated following adjustment for confounding factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Using prospectively recorded alcohol data, this study has shown how instability in drinking behaviours over time is associated with risk of CHD. As well as individuals who abstain from drinking (long term or more recently), those who are inconsistently moderate in their alcohol intake have a higher risk of experiencing CHD. This finding suggests that policies and interventions specifically encouraging consistency in adherence to lower-risk drinking guidelines could have public health benefits in reducing the population burden of CHD. The absence of an effect amongst heavy drinkers should be interpreted with caution given the known wider health risks associated with such intake.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03133689

27 July 2018 In Social and Cultural Aspects

Despite the pervasive use of social media by young adults, there is comparatively little known about whether, and how, engagement in social media influences this group's drinking patterns and risk of alcohol-related problems. We examined the relations between young adults' alcohol-related social media engagement (defined as the posting, liking, commenting, and viewing of alcohol-related social media content) and their drinking behavior and problems. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating the association of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems with alcohol-related social media engagement. Summary baseline variables regarding the social media platform used (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), social media measures assessed (e.g., number of alcohol photographs posted), alcohol measures (e.g., Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and Timeline Follow back Interview), and the number of time points at which data were collected were extracted from each published study. We used the Q statistic to examine heterogeneity in the correlations between alcohol-related social media engagement and both drinking behavior and alcohol-related problems. Because there was significant heterogeneity, we used a random-effects model to evaluate the difference from zero of the weighted aggregate correlations. We used metaregression with study characteristics as moderators to test for moderators of the observed heterogeneity. Following screening, 19 articles met inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. The primary findings indicated a statistically significant relationship and moderate effect sizes between alcohol-related social media engagement and both alcohol consumption (r = 0.36, 95% CI: 0.29 to 0.44, p < 0.001) and alcohol-related problems (r = 0.37, 95% CI: 0.21 to 0.51, p < 0.001). There was significant heterogeneity among studies. Two significant predictors of heterogeneity were (i) whether there was joint measurement of alcohol-related social media engagement and drinking behavior or these were measured on different occasions and (ii) whether measurements were taken by self-report or observation of social media engagement. We found moderate-sized effects across the 19 studies: Greater alcohol-related social media engagement was correlated with both greater self-reported drinking and alcohol-related problems. Further research to determine the causal direction of these associations could provide opportunities for social media-based interventions with young drinkers aimed at reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related adverse consequences.

27 July 2018 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Although it is well established that heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of hypertension, the risk associated with low levels of alcohol intake in men and women is unclear.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We searched Medline and Embase for original cohort studies on the association between average alcohol consumption and incidence of hypertension in people without hypertension. Random-effects meta-analyses and metaregressions were conducted. Data from 20 articles with 361 254 participants (125 907 men and 235 347 women) and 90 160 incident cases of hypertension (32 426 men and 57 734 women) were included. In people drinking 1 to 2 drinks/day (12 g of pure ethanol per drink), incidence of hypertension differed between men and women (relative riskwomen vs men=0.79; 95% confidence interval, 0.67-0.93). In men, the risk for hypertension in comparison with abstainers was relative risk=1.19 (1.07-1.31; I(2)=59%), 1.51 (1.30-1.76), and 1.74 (1.35-2.24) for consumption of 1 to 2, 3 to 4, and 5 or more standard drinks per day, respectively. In women, there was no increased risk for 1 to 2 drinks/day (relative risk=0.94; 0.88-1.01; I(2)=73%), and an increased risk for consumption beyond this level (relative risk=1.42; 1.22-1.66).

CONCLUSIONS: Any alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in the risk for hypertension in men. In women, there was no risk increase for consumption of 1 to 2 drinks/day and an increased risk for higher consumption levels. We did not find evidence for a protective effect of alcohol consumption in women, contrary to earlier meta-analyses.

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