15 December 2016 In Cardiovascular System

Study of the relationships of alcohol drinking and risk of stroke can readily become mired in the labyrinthine interactions of drinking categorizations, non-linear associations, disparate cardiovascular conditions, and the heterogeneous types of stroke. This Commentary discusses the recent article by Larsson et al. (BMC Medicine 14:178, 2016). The authors split their material into separate meta-analyses of subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, and ischemic stroke, finding disparate alcohol-stroke relationships. Our Commentary pursues the disparity theme, using the lumpers versus splitters paradigm to explore several aspects of this complex area.Please see related article: http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-016-0721-4.

21 September 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVES: To review critical contributions from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) on alcohol consumption and health outcomes.

METHODS: We performed a narrative review of NHS (1980-2012) and NHS II (1989-2011) publications.

RESULTS: Using detailed information on self-reported alcohol drinking patterns obtained approximately every 4 years combined with extensive information on diet, lifestyle habits, and physician-diagnosed health conditions, NHS investigators have prospectively examined the risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption. Moderate intake, defined as up to 1 drink a day, is associated with a lower risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, gallstones, cognitive decline, and all-cause mortality. However, even moderate intake places women at higher risk for breast cancer and bone fractures, and higher intake increases risk for colon polyps and colon cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Regular alcohol intake has both risks and benefits. In analyses using repeated assessments of alcohol over time and deaths from all causes, women with low to moderate intake and regular frequency (> 3 days/week) had the lowest risk of mortality compared with abstainers and women who consumed substantially more than 1 drink per day.

17 May 2016 In Cardiovascular System

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to update the current information on alcohol consumption and evaluate the associations between drinking status and cardiovascular diseases in a general population from rural China.

METHODS: The study examined a total of 11,269 adults using a multi-stage cluster sampling method to select a representative sample of individuals 35years or older. Related medical histories were obtained using a standard questionnaire, and blood biochemical indexes were collected by well-trained personnel. Participants were asked for information about whether they regularly consumed alcohol, their average alcohol consumption per day, and the number of days per month that they consumed alcohol.

RESULTS: This population consisted of 75.8% non-drinkers, 7.5% moderate drinkers, and 16.7% heavy drinkers. And the mean alcohol consumption per day for the total population was 15.29+/-0.35g/d (women: 1.0+/-0.11g/d and men 32.5+/-0.69g/d, p<0.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that heavy drinkers had an approximately 1.3-fold and 1.7-fold greater risk for coronary heart disease and hypertension, respectively (OR: 1.252, 95% CI: 1.012 to 1.549; OR: 1.741, 95% CI: 1.519 to 1.994, respectively) compared with that of the non-drinking group. After fully adjusting the data for all variables, the data showed no significant association between moderate alcohol consumption and CHD, HT or ischemic stroke.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol consumption in rural populations is high, particularly in men. Heavy drinking is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and hypertension, but not for ischemic stroke. There was no significant association between moderate alcohol consumption and CHD, HT or ischemic stroke.

17 May 2016 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Although alcohol consumption has long been considered as a risk factor for chronic disease, the relationship to cardiovascular disease (CVD) is complex and involves at least two dimensions: average volume of alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking. The objective of this contribution was to estimate the burden of CVD mortality caused by alcohol consumption.

METHODS RISK ASSESSMENT: modelling with alcohol-attributable CVD mortality as primary outcome. The mortality burden of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and ischaemic stroke (IS) attributable to alcohol consumption was estimated using attributable-fraction methodology. Relative Risk (RR) data for IHD and IS were obtained from the most comprehensive meta-analyses (except for Russia and surrounding countries where alcohol RR data were obtained from a large cohort study). Age-group specific RRs were calculated, based on large studies. Data on mortality were obtained from the World Health Organization's Global Health Estimates and alcohol consumption data were obtained from the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health. Risk of former drinkers was modelled taking into account global differences in the prevalence of sick quitters among former drinkers. Alcohol-attributable mortality estimates for all other CVD causes except IHD and IS were obtained from the 2014 Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health.

RESULTS: An estimated 780,381 CVD deaths (441,893 and 338,490 CVD deaths among men and women respectively) were attributable to alcohol consumption globally in 2012, accounting for 1.4 % of all deaths and 26.6 % of all alcohol-attributable deaths. This is in contrast to the previously estimated 1,128,273 CVD deaths attributable to alcohol consumption globally, and represents a decrease of 30.8 % in alcohol-attributable CVD mortality and of 10.6 % in the global burden of all alcohol-attributable deaths.

CONCLUSIONS: When the most comprehensive and recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses are taken as bases, the net impact of alcohol consumption on CVD is lower than previously estimated.

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