26 February 2019 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Low-risk thresholds for alcohol use differ across various national guidelines. To assess the novel WHO risk drinking levels in light of alcohol-sensitive common laboratory tests, we analysed biomarkers of liver status, inflammation and lipid profiles from a population-based survey of individuals classified to abstainers and different WHO risk drinking levels defined in terms of mean alcohol consumption per day. The study included 22,327 participants aged 25-74 years from the National FINRISK Study. Data on alcohol use, health status, diet, body weight and lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity) were recorded from structured interviews. Alcohol data from self-reports covering the past 12 months were used to categorize the participants into subgroups of abstainers and WHO risk drinking categories representing low, moderate, high and very high risk drinkers. Serum liver enzymes (GGT, ALT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipid profiles were measured using standard laboratory techniques. Alcohol risk category was roughly linearly related with the occurrence of elevated values for GGT, ALT and CRP. Alcohol drinking also significantly influenced the incidence of abnormalities in serum lipids. Significantly higher odds for abnormal GGT, ALT and altered lipid profiles remained in alcohol drinkers even after adjustment for age, waist circumference, physical inactivity, smoking and coffee consumption. A more systematic use of laboratory tests during treatment of individuals classified to WHO risk drinking categories may improve the assessment of alcohol-related health risks. Follow-ups of biomarker responses may also prove to be useful in health interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

22 February 2019 In General Health

We estimated calorie intake from alcohol in Canada, overall and by gender, age, and province, and provide evidence to advocate for mandatory alcohol labelling requirements. Annual per capita (aged 15+) alcohol sales data in litres of pure ethanol by beverage type were taken from Statistics Canada's CANSIM database and converted into calories. The apportionment of consumption by gender, age, and province was based on data from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey. Estimated energy requirements (EER) were from Canada's Food Guide. The average drinker consumed 250 calories, or 11.2% of their daily EER in the form of alcohol, with men (13.3%) consuming a higher proportion of their EER from alcohol than women (8.2%). Drinkers consumed more than one-tenth of their EER from alcohol in all but one province. By beverage type, beer contributes 52.7% of all calories derived from alcohol, while wine (20.8%); spirits (19.8%); and ciders, coolers, and other alcohol (6.7%) also contribute substantially. The substantial caloric impact of alcoholic drinks in the Canadian diet suggests that the addition of caloric labelling on these drinks is a necessary step.

25 January 2019 In General Health

This study investigated the potential effect of therapeutic doses of acetaminophen (APAP) in combination with light-moderate amounts of alcohol on kidney functions controlling for factors such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity that may predispose the kidney to APAP and/or alcohol toxicity. Secondary analysis of the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data was performed using SAS 9.4. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) comparing the likelihood that individuals who ingested therapeutic doses of APAP and light-moderate amount of alcohol, compared to those who did not, would have kidney dysfunction were generated from multiple logistics regression models by further controlling for potential predisposing factors namely hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Kidney dysfunction was defined based on self-reports and laboratory examination of serum creatinine (SCr), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and albumin creatinine ratio (ABCR). Statistically significant increased odds of renal dysfunction were noted among respondents who reported use of therapeutic doses of APAP and light-moderate amount of alcohol [OR(95% CI)=1.64(1.28-2.10) self-report, 2.18(1.81-2.63) SCr, 4.60(3.03-7.00) BUN, 3.14(2.42-4.07) GFR, and 1.71(1.36-2.14) ALBCR)] even after adjusting for hypertension, diabetes and obesity [Adjusted OR (95% CI)=1.78 (1.22-2.58) self-report, 2.05 (1.07-3.92) GFR]. The toxic effects of APAP and alcohol on the kidney were hypothesized. The threshold doses at which these effects begin to occur are unknown. The findings of this study suggest that even therapeutic doses of APAP and light-moderate amount of alcohol could be health problematic if consumed concomitantly.

05 December 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol intake is widely assumed to contribute to excess body fatness, especially among young men; however, the evidence is inconsistent. We have addressed this research question by investigating associations between reported alcohol consumption and body composition from large representative national surveys in a high alcohol-consuming country with a high obesity prevalence.

METHODS: The present study comprised a secondary analysis of combined cross-sectional nationally representative Scottish Health Surveys (1995-2010). Reported alcohol-drinking frequency was divided into five groups: from 'nonfrequent drinking' (reference) to daily/'almost every day' among 35 837 representative adults [mean (SD) age: 42.7 (12.7) years (range 18-64 years)]. Quantitative alcohol consumption was categorised into seven groups: from '1-7 to >/=50 10 g units per week'. Regression models against measured body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were adjusted for age, physical activity, income, smoking, deprivation category and economic status.

RESULTS: Among alcohol-consuming men, heavier drinking (21-28 units per week) was associated with a higher BMI by +1.4 kg m(-2) [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.38-1.43] and higher WC by +3.4 cm (95% CI = 3.2-3.6) than drinking 1-7 units per week. However, those who reported daily drinking frequency were associated with a lower BMI by -2.45 kg m(-2) (95% CI = -2.4 to -2.5) and lower WC by -3.7 cm (95% CI = -3.3 to -4.0) than those who reported less-frequent drinking. Similar associations were found for women. Most of these associations were restricted to subjects aged >30 years. Unexplained variances in BMI and WC are large.

CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative alcohol consumption and frequency of consumption were positively and inversely associated, respectively, with both BMI and WC among alcohol-consuming adults. Surveys are needed that evaluate both the quantity and frequency of consumption. The lowest BMI and WC were associated with a 'Mediterranean' drinking style (i.e. relatively little, but more frequently).

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