27 July 2018 In General Health

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: To examine the prevalence and design elements of the voluntary health warning labels and related industry initiatives on a purposive sample of alcoholic beverage containers sold in New Zealand (NZ), a country with no mandatory health warning labels.

DESIGN AND METHODS: We selected a purposive (e.g. low-cost) sample of 59 local and imported beers, wines and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage containers available in NZ in 2016-2017. We documented the occurrence, content, size, appearance and position of messages concerning drinking during pregnancy, drink-driving, other health effects and industry-led initiatives that could relate to warnings; and collected data about alcohol content, standard drinks, ingredients and energy information.

RESULTS: A majority (80%) of the alcoholic beverage containers had a pregnancy-related warning, 73% had industry-led initiatives (e.g. advising 'responsible' consumption) and 19% had drink-driving/heavy machinery warnings. Warning labels were small, with the average area of pregnancy-related and drink-driving/heavy machinery pictograms being 45 and 36 mm(2) , respectively (i.e. pea-size). The average heights of pregnancy-related and drink-driving text were 1.6 and 2.2 mm, respectively. Pregnancy-related pictograms occupied between an average of 0.13% (wine) and 0.21% (ready-to-drink) of the available surface area of the alcoholic beverage container (i.e. less than 1/400th of the available space). Drink-driving pictograms occupied an average of 0.12% (imported beer), and 0.13% (NZ beer) of the available surface area.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Voluntary recommendations in NZ appear to have been inadequate for producing health warnings on alcoholic beverage containers that are consistent with evidence-informed recommendations for effective labels. This finding suggests that mandatory standardised labelling outlining alcohol-related risks may be required to ensure adequate consumer information.

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

BACKGROUND: Cancer is a major public health problem worldwide, and the number of incident cases increases every year expected to reach 17.1 million a year by 2020. There is evidence that people who adhere to the Mediterranean Diet (MediD) have lower incidence of cancer. However, cancers' location and culture studies seem to affect the MediD impact. We aimed to review these discrepant findings.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A critical review from a focused literature search was conducted. A literature search of controlled trials from: EMBASE (1970-), MEDLINE (1950-) and PsycINFO (1960-) was undertaken. Two authors (DF and YB) independently extracted the data.

RESULTS: Out of 785 abstracts identified only 583 publications focused solely on MediD and cancer. Of these, 46 were clinical trials published since 2007. Twenty-eight trials with a total of 570,262 participants are included in accordance with inclusion criteria. Only four reported the MediD does not reduce the risk of cancer. Of the negative studies, three were undertaken in non-Mediterranean populations. Cancers of the digestive tract were studied in 11 studies. Except for pancreatic cancer, all other sites along the digestive tract demonstrated significantly reduced rate with the MediD.

CONCLUSION: The MediD is associated with reduction in overall cancer rates as well as significantly lower rates of digestive tract cancers. These effects may be accentuated in the Mediterranean countries themselves. Further studies are needed to support or refute the effects of the MediD on other cancer types.

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