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 Drinking Patterns

Binge drinking (BD) is a public health concern with serious implications for brain development. This review is the first in which neuropsychological studies of healthy young BDs are synthesized following PRISMA guidelines. We conducted a literature search in PsycINFO, Web of Science, and PubMed. Articles were screened using strict inclusion criteria. Two authors independently assessed the methodological quality. Of the 27 studies included, 14 (52%) were of intermediate quality, 7 (26%) of poor quality and 6 (22%) of high quality. BD is associated with deficits in verbal memory and executive functions, principally poor inhibitory control. Tentatively, BD may be related to deficits in cognitive flexibility and monitoring of information in working memory. Further studies are needed to determine potential impairments in prospective memory and decision-making. BDs do not seem to show difficulties in planning, short-term memory, attention, processing speed or visuospatial construction. The evidence does not seem to support greater vulnerability in females. Future longitudinal studies should identify the characteristics of extreme trajectories, explore recovery deficits and design intervention programs.

18 May 2018 In Cancer

Recent evidence suggested a weak relationship between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer (PC) risk. In our study, the association between lifetime and baseline alcohol intakes and the risk of PC was evaluated, including the type of alcoholic beverages and potential interaction with smoking. Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, 1,283 incident PC (57% women) were diagnosed from 476,106 cancer-free participants, followed up for 14 years. Amounts of lifetime and baseline alcohol were estimated through lifestyle and dietary questionnaires, respectively. Cox proportional hazard models with age as primary time variable were used to estimate PC hazard ratios (HR) and their 95% confidence interval (CI). Alcohol intake was positively associated with PC risk in men. Associations were mainly driven by extreme alcohol levels, with HRs comparing heavy drinkers (>60 g/day) to the reference category (0.1-4.9 g/day) equal to 1.77 (95% CI: 1.06, 2.95) and 1.63 (95% CI: 1.16, 2.29) for lifetime and baseline alcohol, respectively. Baseline alcohol intakes from beer (>40 g/day) and spirits/liquors (>10 g/day) showed HRs equal to 1.58 (95% CI: 1.07, 2.34) and 1.41 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.94), respectively, compared to the reference category (0.1-2.9 g/day). In women, HR estimates did not reach statistically significance. The alcohol and PC risk association was not modified by smoking status. Findings from a large prospective study suggest that baseline and lifetime alcohol intakes were positively associated with PC risk, with more apparent risk estimates for beer and spirits/liquors than wine intake.

03 May 2018 In Pregnant Women
Women who drink light-to-moderately during pregnancy have been observed to have lower risk of unfavourable pregnancy outcomes than abstainers. This has been suggested to be a result of bias. In a pooled sample, including 193 747 live-born singletons from nine European cohorts, we examined the associations between light-to-moderate drinking and preterm birth, birth weight, and small-for-gestational age in term born children (term SGA). To address potential sources of bias, we compared the associations from the total sample with a sub-sample restricted to first-time pregnant women who conceived within six months of trying, and examined whether the associations varied across calendar time. In the total sample, drinking up to around six drinks per week as compared to abstaining was associated with lower risk of preterm birth, whereas no significant associations were found for birth weight or term SGA. Drinking six or more drinks per week was associated with lower birth weight and higher risk of term SGA, but no increased risk of preterm birth. The analyses restricted to women without reproductive experience revealed similar results. Before 2000 approximately half of pregnant women drank alcohol. This decreased to 39% in 2000-2004, and 14% in 2005-2011. Before 2000, every additional drink was associated with reduced mean birth weight, whereas in 2005-2011, the mean birth weight increased with increasing intake. The period-specific associations between low-to-moderate drinking and birth weight, which also were observed for term SGA, are indicative of bias. It is impossible to distinguish if the bias is attributable to unmeasured confounding, which change over time or cohort heterogeneity
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