01 February 2017 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: To describe the volume and patterns of alcohol consumption up to and including 2012, and to estimate the burden of disease attributable to alcohol consumption as measured in deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in the Americas in 2012.

METHODS: Measures of alcohol consumption were obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH). The burden of alcohol consumption was estimated in both deaths and DALYs lost based on mortality data obtained from WHO, using alcohol-attributable fractions. Regional groupings for the Americas were based on the WHO classifications for 2004 (according to child and adult mortality).

RESULTS: Regional variations were observed in the overall volume of alcohol consumed, the proportion of the alcohol market attributable to unrecorded alcohol consumption, drinking patterns, prevalence of drinking, and prevalence of heavy episodic drinking, with inhabitants of the Americas consuming more alcohol (8.4 L of pure alcohol per adult in 2012) compared to the world average. The Americas also experienced a high burden of disease attributable to alcohol consumption (4.7% of all deaths and 6.7% of all DALYs lost), especially in terms of injuries attributable to alcohol consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol is consumed in a harmful manner in the Americas, leading to a high burden of disease, especially in terms of injuries. New cost-effective alcohol policies, such as increasing alcohol taxation, increasing the minimum legal age to purchase alcohol, and decreasing the maximum legal blood alcohol content while driving, should be implemented to decrease the harmful consumption of alcohol and the resulting burden of disease.

01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Mixing alcohol with diet beverages, as compared to mixing the same amount of alcohol with a regular beverage, is associated with greater intoxication. This may occur because diet mixers increase alcohol absorption rates. Thus, it is plausible that the use of diet mixers may increase the risk of alcohol-related harms. The current study sought to (1) determine the rate/frequency of use in among college students, (2) examine the relationship between mixing alcohol with diet beverages and alcohol-related problems, above typical alcohol use and sensation seeking, and (3) explore key traits (gender, restricting food while drinking, and body mass index [BMI]) that may characterize users. Participants were 686 (73% female) undergraduate students who completed self-reports of alcohol use (including diet mixer use), alcohol-related problems, eating behaviors while drinking, sensation seeking, and demographic information. Results revealed that about 36% of the sample reported consuming alcohol with diet mixers, and users typically consumed this beverage at least once a month. Students who reported mixing alcohol with diet beverages experienced more alcohol-related problems. And, the more frequently one consumed this beverage, the more problems were reported. These associations were found after controlling for typical level of alcohol use and sensation seeking. No differences were observed between user-status on gender, eating behaviors while drinking, and BMI. Our findings suggest that mixing alcohol with diet beverages could be a risk factor for experiencing more alcohol-related harms. Further research is needed to understand this relationship, as it may help guide intervening efforts aimed to reduce alcohol-related risks.

01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Binge drinking represents a major clinical and public health concern. Here, we investigated the prevalence of binge drinking and its related consequences, in a population of young adults. A questionnaire was administered to a sample of 4275 healthy subjects. In the overall sample, the percentage of binge drinkers was 67.6 per cent; among regular alcohol users, 79.5 per cent reported episodes of binge drinking. Among binge drinkers, several serious consequences were identified (staggering and stuttering, amnesia, loss of control, aggressiveness, sexual disinhibition). Raising awareness about the seriousness of binge drinking may help health care providers to identify cases early on and provide appropriate treatments.

01 February 2017 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: We examined whether alcohol flushing could be used as an instrumental variable (IV) and investigated the effect of alcohol consumption on coronary calcification using alcohol flushing status as an IV.

METHODS: We analysed cross-sectional data from 24 681 Korean adults (20 696 men and 3985 women) who had been administered a questionnaire assessing alcohol consumption and alcohol flushing, as well as a coronary artery calcium (CAC) measurement. The associations of alcohol flushing status with potential confounders and alcohol consumption were examined. We employed two-stage predictor substitution methodology for the IV analysis.

RESULTS: The prevalence of alcohol flushing did not differ depending on gender, education, household income, cigarette smoking or physical activity. Balanced levels of confounders were observed between alcohol flushers and non-flushers. Alcohol flushing was closely related to alcohol consumption and levels of liver enzymes. In men, a doubling in alcohol consumption was associated with increased odds of coronary calcification in both the IV analysis [odds ratio (OR) of CAC scores of 1 or over = 1.11; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.03-1.20) and the multivariable regression analysis (OR = 1.04; 95% CI = 1.01-1.07). For cardiovascular risk factors, the IV analysis showed a positive association between alcohol consumption and blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol flushing can be used as an IV in studies evaluating the health impact of alcohol consumption, especially in East Asian countries. Through such an analysis, we found that increased alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.

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