04 December 2014 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Conventionally, cohort studies have assessed the association between alcohol and all-cause mortality by using alcohol intake at enrolment.

METHODS: In the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, participants were asked about usual frequency and quantity of beverage-specific alcohol intake for 10-year periods starting at age 20 from which current, past and lifetime intakes were calculated. We used Cox regression to estimate hazard ratios for mortality for 39 577 participants of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study aged 40-69 at baseline.

RESULTS: After a mean follow-up of 15 years/person, we identified 4639 deaths. Associations between all-cause mortality and lifetime, current (baseline) and past intake were J shaped, with lower mortality at low intake (e.g. 0-39/>0-39 g/day) from age 20 to baseline age was associated with a 16% lower mortality, while heavy drinking at both ages (>/=80/>/=40 and >/=40/0 g/day) was associated with higher mortality compared with stable abstinence.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support a reduced mortality risk associated with low-dose drinking but also highlight a higher mortality risk for consistent heavy drinking from a young age.

06 May 2014 In Phenolic compounds

BACKGROUND: Few studies have investigated the effect of dietary polyphenols on the complex human gut microbiota, and they focused mainly on single polyphenol molecules and select bacterial populations.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to evaluate the effect of a moderate intake of red wine polyphenols on select gut microbial groups implicated in host health benefits.

DESIGN: Ten healthy male volunteers underwent a randomized, crossover, controlled intervention study. After a washout period, all of the subjects received red wine, the equivalent amount of de-alcoholized red wine, or gin for 20 d each. Total fecal DNA was submitted to polymerase chain reaction(PCR)-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and real-time quantitative PCR to monitor and quantify changes in fecal microbiota. Several biochemical markers were measured.

RESULTS: The dominant bacterial composition did not remain constant over the different intake periods. Compared with baseline, the daily consumption of red wine polyphenol for 4 wk significantly increased the number of Enterococcus, Prevotella, Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides uniformis, Eggerthella lenta, and Blautia coccoides-Eubacterium rectale groups (P < 0.05). In parallel, systolic and diastolic blood pressures and triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and C-reactive protein concentrations decreased significantly (P < 0.05). Moreover, changes in cholesterol and C-reactive protein concentrations were linked to changes in the bifidobacteria number.

CONCLUSION: This study showed that red wine consumption can significantly modulate the growth of select gut microbiota in humans, which suggests possible prebiotic benefits associated with the inclusion of red wine polyphenols in the diet.

This trial was registered at controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN88720134

OBJECTIVE: To assess the value of drinking guidelines applied in adolescence for predicting alcohol-related outcomes in young adulthood.

METHODS: We conducted an eight-wave, population-based cohort study of 696 males and 824 females in Victoria between 1992 and 2003. Adolescent drinking was assessed at five survey waves, in six month intervals, from mean age 15.4-17.4 years. We created three measures of adolescent alcohol use using categories from NHMRC drinking guidelines: risky/high-risk drinking in the short and long term (2001), and high-risk drinking (2007). Each measure was defined according to the number of waves at which drinking was reported at or above the designated level during adolescence: non-drinkers, zero waves (low-risk drinkers), one wave, and 2+ waves. Alcohol use disorders and alcohol-related sexual behaviours were assessed at mean age 24.1 years.

RESULTS: Fourteen per cent of males and 17% of females were non-drinkers during adolescence. Using each NHMRC drinking guideline, the prevalence of each outcome for men increased with the number of waves at which drinking was reported above the low-risk level (p-values <0.007). The association was less clear for women. The prevalence of each outcome was lower among the nondrinkers compared to the low-risk drinkers for both men and women.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: These findings support the emphasis in the NHMRC guidelines on abstaining from alcohol during the adolescent years. Any drinking, even at the low-risk level, may not be appropriate in adolescence. However, refinements that could better capture the risk of adolescent drinking in women would be useful.

Recognizing there have been few methodologically rigorous cross-national studies of youth alcohol and drug behaviour, state student samples were compared in Australia and the USA. Sampling methods were matched to recruit two independent, state-representative, cross-sectional samples of students in Grades 5, 7 and 9 in Washington State, USA, (n = 2866) and Victoria, Australia (n = 2864) in 2002. Of Washington students in Grade 5 (age 11), 10.3% (95% CI 7.2-14.7) of boys and 5.2% (95% CI 3.4-7.9) of girls reported alcohol use in the past year. Prevalence rates were markedly higher in Victoria (34.2%, 95% CI 28.8-40.1 boys; 21.0%, 95% CI 17.1-25.5 girls). Relative to Washington, the students in Victoria demonstrated a two to three times increased likelihood of reporting substance use (either alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use), and by Grade 9, experiences of loss-of-control of alcohol use, binge drinking (frequent episodes of five or more alcoholic drinks), and injuries related to alcohol were two to four times higher. The high rates of early age alcohol use in Victoria were associated with frequent, heavy and harmful alcohol use and higher overall exposure to alcohol or other drug use. These findings reveal considerable variation in international rates of both adolescent alcohol misuse and co-occurring drug use and suggest the need for cross-national research to identify policies and practices that contribute to the lower rate of adolescent alcohol and drug use observed in the USA in this study.

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