22 February 2019 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Prevention aiming at smoking, alcohol consumption, and BMI could potentially bring large gains in life expectancy (LE) and health expectancy measures such as Healthy Life Years (HLY) and Life Expectancy in Good Perceived Health (LEGPH) in the European Union. However, the potential gains might differ by region.

METHODS: A Sullivan life table model was applied for 27 European countries to calculate the impact of alternative scenarios of lifestyle behavior on life and health expectancy. Results were then pooled over countries to present the potential gains in HLY and LEGPH for four European regions.

RESULTS: Simulations show that up to 4 years of extra health expectancy can be gained by getting all countries to the healthiest levels of lifestyle observed in EU countries. This is more than the 2 years to be gained in life expectancy. Generally, Eastern Europe has the lowest LE, HLY, and LEGPH. Even though the largest gains in LEPGH and HLY can also be made in Eastern Europe, the gap in LE, HLY, and LEGPH can only in a small part be closed by changing smoking, alcohol consumption, and BMI.

CONCLUSION: Based on the current data, up to 4 years of good health could be gained by adopting lifestyle as seen in the best-performing countries. Only a part of the lagging health expectancy of Eastern Europe can potentially be solved by improvements in lifestyle involving smoking and BMI. Before it is definitely concluded that lifestyle policy for alcohol use is of relatively little importance compared to smoking or BMI, as our findings suggest, better data should be gathered in all European countries concerning alcohol use and the odds ratios of overconsumption of alcohol.

22 February 2019 In Drinking & Driving

BACKGROUND: Drink driving is an important risk factor for road traffic accidents (RTAs), which cause high levels of morbidity and mortality globally. Lowering the permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers is a common public health intervention that is enacted in countries and jurisdictions across the world. In Scotland, on Dec 5, 2014, the BAC limit for drivers was reduced from 0.08 g/dL to 0.05 g/dL. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of this change on RTAs and alcohol consumption.

METHODS: In this natural experiment, we used an observational, comparative interrupted time-series design by use of data on RTAs and alcohol consumption in Scotland (the interventional group) and England and Wales (the control group). We obtained weekly counts of RTAs from police accident records and we estimated weekly off-trade (eg, in supermarkets and convenience stores) and 4-weekly on-trade (eg, in bars and restaurants) alcohol consumption from market research data. We also used data from automated traffic counters as denominators to calculate RTA rates. We estimated the effect of the intervention on RTAs by use of negative binomial panel regression and on alcohol consumption outcomes by use of seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models. Our primary outcome was weekly rates of RTAs in Scotland, England, and Wales. This study is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN38602189.

FINDINGS: We assessed the weekly rate of RTAs and alcohol consumption between Jan 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2016, before and after the BAC limit came into effect on Dec 5, 2014. After the reduction in BAC limits for drivers in Scotland, we found no significant change in weekly RTA rates after adjustment for seasonality and underlying temporal trend (rate ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.94-1.08; p=0.77) or after adjustment for seasonality, the underlying temporal trend, and the driver characteristics of age, sex, and socioeconomic deprivation (1.00, 0.96-1.06; p=0.73). Relative to RTAs in England and Wales, where the reduction in BAC limit for drivers did not occur, we found a 7% increase in weekly RTA rates in Scotland after this reduction in BAC limit for drivers (1.07, 1.02-1.13; p=0.007 in the fully-adjusted model). Similar findings were observed for serious or fatal RTAs and single-vehicle night-time RTAs. The change in legislation in Scotland was associated with no change in alcohol consumption, measured by per-capita off-trade sales (-0.3%, -1.7 to 1.1; p=0.71), but a 0.7% decrease in alcohol consumption measured by per-capita on-trade sales (-0.7%, -0.8 to -0.5; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: Lowering the driving BAC limit to 0.05 g/dL from 0.08 g/dL in Scotland was not associated with a reduction in RTAs, but this change was associated with a small reduction in per-capita alcohol consumption from on-trade alcohol sales. One plausible explanation is that the legislative change was not suitably enforced-for example with random breath testing measures. Our findings suggest that changing the legal BAC limit for drivers in isolation does not improve RTA outcomes. These findings have significant policy implications internationally as several countries and jurisdictions consider a similar reduction in the BAC limit for drivers.

FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme.

22 February 2019 In Cancer

PURPOSE: Breast cancer (BC) risk prediction allows systematic identification of individuals at highest and lowest risk. We extend the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA) risk model to incorporate the effects of polygenic risk scores (PRS) and other risk factors (RFs).

METHODS: BOADICEA incorporates the effects of truncating variants in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM; a PRS based on 313 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) explaining 20% of BC polygenic variance; a residual polygenic component accounting for other genetic/familial effects; known lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive RFs; and mammographic density, while allowing for missing information.

RESULTS: Among all factors considered, the predicted UK BC risk distribution is widest for the PRS, followed by mammographic density. The highest BC risk stratification is achieved when all genetic and lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive/anthropomorphic factors are considered jointly. With all factors, the predicted lifetime risks for women in the UK population vary from 2.8% for the 1st percentile to 30.6% for the 99th percentile, with 14.7% of women predicted to have a lifetime risk of >/=17-<30% (moderate risk according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] guidelines) and 1.1% a lifetime risk of >/=30% (high risk).

CONCLUSION: This comprehensive model should enable high levels of BC risk stratification in the general population and women with family history, and facilitate individualized, informed decision-making on prevention therapies and screening.

22 February 2019 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: We aimed to understand the factors shaping alcohol consumption patterns in middle-aged women (45-64), and to identify participant-driven population- and policy-level strategies that may be used to addresses alcohol consumption and reduce breast cancer risk.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews (n = 35) were conducted with 'middle-aged' women conversant in English and living in South Australia with no history of breast cancer diagnosis. Data were deductively coded using a co-developed framework including variables relevant to our study objectives. Women were asked about their current level of awareness of the association between alcohol and breast cancer risk, and their personal recommendations for how to decrease consumption in middle-aged Australian women.

RESULTS: Women discussed their previous efforts to decrease consumption, which we drew on to identify preliminary recommendations for consumption reduction. We identified a low level of awareness of alcohol and breast cancer risk, and confusion related to alcohol as a risk for breast cancer, but not always causing breast cancer. Participants suggested that education and awareness, through various means, may help to reduce consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants' description of strategies used to reduce their own consumption lead us to suggest that campaigns might focus on the more salient and immediate effects of alcohol (e.g. on physical appearance and mental health) rather than longer-term consequences. Critical considerations for messaging include addressing the personal, physical and social pleasures that alcohol provides, and how these may differ across socio-demographics.

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