18 May 2018 In General Health
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and left ventricular (LV) function in a population with low average alcohol intake. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1296 healthy participants, free from cardiovascular diseases, were randomly selected from the third wave of the Norwegian HUNT study (2006-2008) and underwent echocardiography. After validation of the inclusion criteria, 30 participants were excluded due to arrhythmias or myocardial or valvular pathology. Alcohol consumption, sociodemographic and major cardiovascular risk factors were assessed by questionnaires and clinical examination in the HUNT3. General linear models were used to analyse the cross-sectional associations between alcohol intake and LV indices. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: LV functional and structural indices were measured with tissue Doppler and speckle tracking echocardiography. RESULTS: We observed no associations between alcohol consumption and multivariable-adjusted LV functional indices. Excluding abstainers who reported regular alcohol consumption 10 years prior to the baseline did not change the results. Alcohol consumption was positively associated with LV mass indices (p<0.01 for linear trend of the means); there was no such association among participants with non-risky drinking characteristics (p=0.67 for linear trend of the means). CONCLUSIONS: We found no clear evidence that light-moderate alcohol consumption is associated with measures of LV function, although our results indicate that consumption, especially when marked by binge drinking, is progressively associated with greater LV mass
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 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 General Health
Aim: To examine whether exposure to increased alcohol availability in utero is associated with later alcohol-related health problems. Method: Register-linked population-based longitudinal study using data from a natural experiment setting, including 363 286 children born 1965-71. An experimental alcohol policy change was piloted in two regions of Sweden in 1967-68, where access to strong beer increased for 16-20 year old. Children exposed in utero to the policy change were compared to children born elsewhere in Sweden (excluding a border area), and to children born before and after the policy change. The outcome was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register using the Swedish index of alcohol-related inpatient care. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox regression analysis. Results: The results suggest that children conceived by young mothers prior to the policy change but exposed to it in utero had a slightly increased risk of alcohol-related health problems later in life (HR 1.26, 95% CI 0.94-1.68). A tendency towards an inverse association was found among children conceived by older mothers (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.74-1.06). Conclusion: Results obtained from a natural experiment setting found no consistent evidence of long-term health consequences among children exposed in utero to an alcohol policy change. Some evidence however suggested an increased risk of alcohol-related health problems among the exposed children of young mothers
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