27 July 2018 In General Health

A routine of light or moderate alcohol consumption (4drinks/day) is associated with an increased risk for death and cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD). Excessive alcohol intake trails behind only smoking and obesity among the 3 leading causes of premature deaths in the United States (US). Heavy alcohol use is a common cause of reversible hypertension (HTN), nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation (AF), and stroke (both ischemic and hemorrhagic). Among males aged 15 to 59years, alcohol abuse is perhaps the leading cause of premature death. As such, the risk-to-benefit ratio of drinking is less favorable in younger individuals. A daily habit of light to moderate drinking is ideal for those who choose to consume alcohol regularly. Red wine in particular before or during the evening meal is linked with the best long-term CV outcomes. Most of the studies on alcohol and health are observational, and correlation does not prove causation. Health care professionals should not advise nondrinkers to begin drinking because of the paucity of randomized outcome data coupled with the potential for alcohol abuse even among seemingly low risk individuals.

27 July 2018 In General Health

Purpose: The placement of warning labels on alcoholic beverages is a policy area with renewed interest, yet a strong evidence base regarding the efficacy of text-based or pictorial warning labels has still to emerge. Increased interest by policymakers has spurred research into potential alcohol warning label designs and messages. The purpose of this article is to draw together recearch in the alcohol warnings literature.

Design/methodology/approach: The current study seeks to review research that has sought to examine the effectiveness of alcohol warning labels. Searches for English-language articles (since 2000) using the terms "alcohol" and "warning label*" were conducted in 2015 across four databases (Web of Science, PubMed, PsycInfo and Cochrane). Articles were included if they empirically assessed the effectiveness and/or design of alcohol warning labels. Only studies that addressed the targeted individual consumer (consistent with downstream social marketing) were included. A narrative analysis approach was used for the 15 articles identified.

Findings: Findings are reported on five themes covering the design of the warning, starting with the use of imagery or recommendations, followed by a focus on the warning messages and whether they are specific, use signal words and are based on qualitative or quantitative information.

Research limitations/implications: Overall, there was little consistency in approach and measures, with very limited research having explored the potential of pictorial warning labels. Numerous research gaps are identified; thus, much more research is needed in this area. The evidence base is weak and caution is needed by policymakers regarding the introduction and implementation of alcohol warning labels. Limitations are discussed.

Originality/value: The review provides a timely up-to-date evaluation of the alcohol warning labels literature that has seen a recent resurgence but has not been critically reviewed.

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.

27 July 2018 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: Individual participant data pooled analyses allow access to non-published data and statistical reanalyses based on more homogeneous criteria than meta-analyses based on systematic reviews. We quantified the impact of publication-related biases and heterogeneity in data analysis and presentation in summary estimates of the association between alcohol drinking and gastric cancer.

METHODS: We compared estimates obtained from conventional meta-analyses, using only data available in published reports from studies that take part in the Stomach Cancer Pooling (StoP) Project, with individual participant data pooled analyses including the same studies.

RESULTS: A total of 22 studies from the StoP Project assessed the relation between alcohol intake and gastric cancer, 19 had specific data for levels of consumption and 18 according to cancer location; published reports addressing these associations were available from 18, 5 and 5 studies, respectively. The summary odds ratios [OR, (95%CI)] estimate obtained with published data for drinkers vs. non-drinkers was 10% higher than the one obtained with individual StoP data [18 vs. 22 studies: 1.21 (1.07-1.36) vs. 1.10 (0.99-1.23)] and more heterogeneous (I(2): 63.6% vs 54.4%). In general, published data yielded less precise summary estimates (standard errors up to 2.6 times higher). Funnel plot analysis suggested publication bias.

CONCLUSION: Meta-analyses of the association between alcohol drinking and gastric cancer tended to overestimate the magnitude of the effects, possibly due to publication bias. Additionally, individual participant data pooled analyses yielded more precise estimates for different levels of exposure or cancer subtypes.

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