29 October 2018 In Cancer

Epidemiological studies have been used to show associations between modifiable lifestyle habits and the incidence of breast cancer. Among such factors, a history of alcohol use has been reported in multiple studies and meta-analyses over the past decades. However, associative epidemiological studies that were interpreted as evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption increases breast cancer incidence have been controversial. In this review, we consider the literature on the relationship between moderate or heavy alcohol use, both in possible biological mechanisms and in variations in susceptibility due to genetic or epigenetic factors. We argue that there is a need to incorporate additional approaches to move beyond the associations that are reported in traditional epidemiological analyses and incorporate information on molecular pathologic signatures as a requirement to posit causal inferences. In particular, we point to the efforts of the transdisciplinary field of molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE) to evaluate possible causal relationships, if any, of alcohol consumption and breast cancer. A wider application of the principles of MPE to this field would constitute a giant step that could enhance our understanding of breast cancer and multiple modifiable risk factors, a step that would be particularly suited to the era of "personalized medicine".

27 September 2018 In General Health

The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been associated with prolonged survival in the general population, but no meta-analysis has apparently investigated the potential health benefits in relation to mortality in the elderly. We performed a longitudinal analysis on 5200 individuals aged >/=65 years identified within the general population recruited in the Moli-sani study cohort (2005-2010). Adherence to the MD was appraised by the a priori Mediterranean diet score (MDS; range 0-9). Survival estimates were derived using Cox regression and competing risk models. For the meta-analysis, PubMed and Scopus databases were searched from inception until April 2018 to identify prospective studies on the MD and death risk in the elderly. Over a median follow-up of 8.1 years, a total of 900 deaths were ascertained in the elderly sub-sample of the Moli-sani cohort. A one-point increase in the MDS was associated with lower risk of all-cause, coronary artery disease/cerebrovascular and non-cardiovascular/non-cancer mortality (multi-variable hazard ratio (HR)=0.94; 95 % CI 0.90, 0.98; HR=0.91; 95 % CI 0.83, 0.99 and HR=0.89; 95 % CI 0.81, 0.96, respectively). In a meta-analysis of seven prospective studies, including our results, for a total of 11 738 participants and 3874 deaths, one-point increment in MDS was associated with 5 % (4-7 %) lower risk of all-cause death. An inverse linear dose-response relationship was found from a meta-analysis including three studies. In conclusion, a prospective cohort study and a meta-analysis showed that closer adherence to the MD was associated with prolonged survival in elderly individuals, suggesting the appropriateness for older persons to adopt/preserve the MD to maximise their prospects for survival.

27 September 2018 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: A systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the magnitude of the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in adults was undertaken.

DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

METHODS: Comprehensive searches of Medline, Embase and Web of Science were carried out to identify comparative studies of the association between alcohol intake and CAP between 1985 and 2017. Reference lists were also screened. A random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate pooled effect sizes. A dose-response meta-analysis was also performed.

RESULTS: We found 17 papers eligible for inclusion in the review, of which 14 provided results which could be pooled. Meta-analysis of these 14 studies identified an 83% increased risk of CAP among people who consumed alcohol or in higher amounts, relative to those who consumed no or lower amounts of alcohol, respectively (relative risk=1.83, 95% CI 1.30 to 2.57). There was substantial between-study heterogeneity, which was attributable in part to differences in study continent, adjustment for confounders and pneumonia diagnosis (clinical vs death). Dose-response analysis found that for every 10-20 g higher alcohol intake per day, there was an 8% increase in the risk of CAP.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that alcohol consumption increases the risk of CAP. Therefore, strengthening policies to reduce alcohol intake would be likely to reduce the incidence of CAP.

27 September 2018 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Current research into alcohol consumption focuses predominantly on problematic drinkers and populations considered likely to engage in risky behaviours. Middle-aged drinkers are an under-researched group, despite emerging evidence that their regular drinking patterns may carry some risk.

METHODS: We searched Scopus, Ovid Medline, and Ovid PsycInfo for peer-reviewed, English-language publications appearing prior to 31 December 2015 and relating to the construction of alcohol consumption by middle-aged non-problematised drinkers. Thirteen papers were included in our thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Middle-aged non-problematised drinkers constructed their drinking practices by creating a narrative of normative drinking via discourses of gender, identity, play, and learning to drink. They also used drinking norms to construct their gender and identity. Health was not identified as a significant consideration for the population of interest when constructing alcohol consumption, except where drinking behaviours were likely to harm another.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that public health campaigns aimed at reducing alcohol consumption may be more effective if they focus on unacceptable drinking behaviours instead of personal health outcomes.

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