04 August 2017 In Cancer

PURPOSE: To estimate the Australian cancer burden attributable to lifestyle-related risk factors and their combinations using a novel population attributable fraction (PAF) method that accounts for competing risk of death, risk factor interdependence and statistical uncertainty.

PARTICIPANTS: 365 173 adults from seven Australian cohort studies. We linked pooled harmonised individual participant cohort data with population-based cancer and death registries to estimate exposure-cancer and exposure-death associations. Current Australian exposure prevalence was estimated from representative external sources. To illustrate the utility of the new PAF method, we calculated fractions of cancers causally related to body fatness or both tobacco and alcohol consumption avoidable in the next 10 years by risk factor modifications, comparing them with fractions produced by traditional PAF methods.

FINDINGS TO DATE: Over 10 years of follow-up, we observed 27 483 incident cancers and 22 078 deaths. Of cancers related to body fatness (n=9258), 13% (95% CI 11% to 16%) could be avoided if those currently overweight or obese had body mass index of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. Of cancers causally related to both tobacco and alcohol (n=4283), current or former smoking explains 13% (11% to 16%) and consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day explains 6% (5% to 8%). The two factors combined explain 16% (13% to 19%): 26% (21% to 30%) in men and 8% (4% to 11%) in women. Corresponding estimates using the traditional PAF method were 20%, 31% and 10%. Our PAF estimates translate to 74 000 avoidable body fatness-related cancers and 40 000 avoidable tobacco- and alcohol-related cancers in Australia over the next 10 years (2017-2026). Traditional PAF methods not accounting for competing risk of death and interdependence of risk factors may overestimate PAFs and avoidable cancers.

FUTURE PLANS: We will rank the most important causal factors and their combinations for a spectrum of cancers and inform cancer control activities.

22 June 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related mortality and morbidity are high in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations compared with individuals from advantaged areas. It is unclear if this increased harm reflects differences in alcohol consumption between these socioeconomic groups, reverse causation (ie, downward social selection for high-risk drinkers), or a greater risk of harm in individuals of low socioeconomic status compared with those of higher status after similar consumption. We aimed to investigate whether the harmful effects of alcohol differ by socioeconomic status, accounting for alcohol consumption and other health-related factors.

METHODS: The Scottish Health Surveys are record-linked cross-sectional surveys representative of the adult population of Scotland. We obtained baseline demographics and data for alcohol consumption (units per week and binge drinking) from Scottish Health Surveys done in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. We matched these data to records for deaths, admissions, and prescriptions. The primary outcome was alcohol-attributable admission or death. The relation between alcohol-attributable harm and socioeconomic status was investigated for four measures (education level, social class, household income, and area-based deprivation) using Cox proportional hazards models. The potential for alcohol consumption and other risk factors (including smoking and body-mass index [BMI]) mediating social patterning was explored in separate regression models. Reverse causation was tested by comparing change in area deprivation over time.

FINDINGS: 50 236 participants (21 777 men and 28 459 women) were included in the analytical sample, with 429 986 person-years of follow-up. Low socioeconomic status was associated consistently with strikingly raised alcohol-attributable harms, including after adjustment for weekly consumption, binge drinking, BMI, and smoking. Evidence was noted of effect modification; for example, relative to light drinkers living in advantaged areas, the risk of alcohol-attributable admission or death for excessive drinkers was increased (hazard ratio 6.12, 95% CI 4.45-8.41 in advantaged areas; and 10.22, 7.73-13.53 in deprived areas). We found little support for reverse causation.

INTERPRETATION: Disadvantaged social groups have greater alcohol-attributable harms compared with individuals from advantaged areas for given levels of alcohol consumption, even after accounting for different drinking patterns, obesity, and smoking status at the individual level.

FUNDING: Medical Research Council, NHS Research Scotland, Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office

22 June 2017 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower incidence of diabetes in women. However, not only the amount but also the drinking pattern could be of importance when assessing the longitudinal relation between alcohol and glucose. Also, there is a lack of studies on alcohol use beginning in adolescence on adult glucose levels. The aim was to examine the association between total alcohol consumption and binge drinking between ages 16 and 43 and fasting plasma glucose at age 43.

METHODS: Data were retrieved from a 27-year prospective cohort study, the Northern Swedish Cohort. In 1981, all 9th grade students (n = 1083) within a municipality in Sweden were invited to participate. There were re-assessments at ages 18, 21, 30 and 43. This particular study sample consisted of 897 participants (82.8%). Fasting plasma glucose (mmol/L) was measured at a health examination at age 43. Total alcohol consumption (in grams) and binge drinking were calculated from alcohol consumption data obtained from questionnaires.

RESULTS: Descriptive analyses showed that men had higher levels of fasting plasma glucose as compared to women. Men also reported higher levels of alcohol consumption and binge drinking behavior. Linear regressions showed that total alcohol consumption in combination with binge drinking between ages 16 and 43 was associated with elevated fasting plasma glucose at age 43 in women (beta = 0.14, p = 0.003) but not in men after adjustment for BMI, hypertension and smoking at age 43.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that reducing binge drinking and alcohol consumption among young and middle-aged women with the highest consumption might be metabolically favorable for their future glucose metabolism.

26 April 2017 In General Health

BACKGROUND: In cross-sectional studies and short-term clinical trials, it has been suggested that there is a positive dose-response relation between alcohol consumption and HDL concentrations. However, prospective data have been limited.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine the association between total alcohol intake, the type of alcohol-containing beverage, and the 6-y (2006-2012) longitudinal change in HDL-cholesterol concentrations in a community-based cohort.

DESIGN: A total of 71,379 Chinese adults (mean age: 50 y) who were free of cardiovascular diseases and cancer and did not use cholesterol-lowering agents during follow-up were included in the study. Alcohol intake was assessed via a questionnaire in 2006 (baseline), and participants were classified into the following categories of alcohol consumption: never, past, light (women: 0-0.4 servings/d; men: 0-0.9 servings/d), moderate (women: 0.5-1.0 servings/d; men: 1-2 servings/d), and heavy (women: >1.0 servings/d; men: >2 servings/d). HDL-cholesterol concentrations were measured in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. We used generalized estimating equation models to examine the associations between baseline alcohol intake and the change in HDL-cholesterol concentrations with adjustment for age, sex, smoking, physical activity, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, liver function, and C-reactive protein concentrations.

RESULTS: An umbrella-shaped association was observed between total alcohol consumption and changes in HDL-cholesterol concentrations. Compared with never drinkers, past, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers experienced slower decreases in HDL cholesterol of 0.012 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.008, 0.016 mmol . L-1 . y-1), 0.013 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.010, 0.016 mmol . L-1 . y-1), 0.017 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.009, 0.025 mmol . L-1 . y-1), and 0.008 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.005, 0.011 mmol . L-1 . y-1), respectively (P < 0.0001 for all), after adjustment for potential confounders. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with the slowest increase in total-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride: HDL-cholesterol ratios. We observed a similar association between hard-liquor consumption and the HDL-cholesterol change. In contrast, greater beer consumption was associated with slower HDL-cholesterol decreases in a dose-response manner.

CONCLUSION: Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with slower HDL-cholesterol decreases; however, the type of alcoholic beverage had differential effects on the change in the HDL-cholesterol concentration.

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