05 December 2018 In Liver Disease

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a known cause of cirrhosis, but it is unclear if the associated risk varies by whether alcohol is drunk with meals, or by the frequency or type of alcohol consumed. Here we aim to investigate the associations between alcohol consumption with meals, daily frequency of consumption, and liver cirrhosis.

METHODS: The Million Women Study is a prospective study that includes one in every four UK women born between 1935 and 1950, recruited between 1996 and 2001. In 2001 (IQR 2000-03), the participants reported their alcohol intake, whether consumption was usually with meals, and number of days per week it was consumed. Cox regression analysis yielded adjusted relative risks (RRs) for incident cirrhosis, identified by follow-up through electronic linkage to routinely collected national hospital admission, and death databases.

FINDINGS: During a mean of 15 years (SD 3) of follow-up of 401 806 women with a mean age of 60 years (SD 5), without previous cirrhosis or hepatitis, and who reported drinking at least one alcoholic drink per week, 1560 had a hospital admission with cirrhosis (n=1518) or died from the disease (n=42). Cirrhosis incidence increased with amount of alcohol consumed (>/=15 drinks [mean 220 g of alcohol] vs one to two drinks [mean 30 g of alcohol] per week; RR 3.43, 95% CI 2.87-4.10; p<0.0001). About half of the participants (203 564 of 401 806) reported usually drinking with meals and, after adjusting for amount consumed, cirrhosis incidence was lower for usually drinking with meals than not (RR 0.69, 0.62-0.77; p<0.0001; wine-only drinkers RR 0.69, 0.56-0.85; all other drinkers RR 0.72, 0.63-0.82). Among 175 618 women who consumed seven or more drinks per week, cirrhosis incidence was greater for daily consumption than non-daily consumption (adjusted RR 1.61, 1.40-1.85; p<0.0001). Daily consumption, together with not drinking with meals, was associated with more than a doubling of cirrhosis incidence (adjusted RR 2.47, 1.96-3.11; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: In middle-aged women, cirrhosis incidence increases with total alcohol intake, even at moderate levels of consumption. For a given weekly intake of alcohol, this excess incidence of cirrhosis is higher if consumption is usually without meals, or with daily drinking. FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

05 December 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Problem drinking carries significant health burdens, including an increased risk of hypertension. The effect of chronic alcohol intake on blood pressure (BP) in women is understudied and poorly understood.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to examine the relationships between drinking habits and BP in hypertensive women.

METHODS: We analyzed drinking habits in 113 women followed in the Brigham and Women's Hospital Hypertension Clinic for at least one year.

RESULTS: Among these women with well-controlled hypertension, baseline diastolic BP was significantly lower in moderate drinkers compared with women who rarely or never drank. Changes in both systolic and diastolic BP over 12 months showed a significant negative association with changes in percent drinking days. In contrast, there was a trend toward higher baseline systolic BP among those women who consumed more drinks per drinking day.

CONCLUSIONS: Among these women with controlled hypertension, our data failed to demonstrate an association between drinking beyond recommended limits and higher disease burden. These findings parallel the widely reported difference between drinking frequency, associated with a host of positive health outcomes, and drinking intensity, associated with negative outcomes. Novel to this report is an observed reduction in blood pressure over the one-year follow-up period accompanying an increased drinking frequency in treated hypertensive women. Cautions include the suggestion that a greater number of drinks per drinking day was associated with higher baseline pressure. These data imply that drinking within sensible limits has no negative impact on chronic hypertension. In fact, for women with well-controlled hypertension, such a habit may impart benefit.

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).

05 December 2018 In General Health

The primary aim of this systematic review was to establish the prevalence, character, and risk factors of peripheral neuropathy amongst chronic alcohol abusers and to identify the most appropriate management strategies. In this review, possible pathogenetic mechanisms are also discussed. A systematic, computer-based search was conducted using the PubMed database. Data regarding the above parameters were extracted. 87 articles were included in this review, 29 case-control studies, 52 prospective/retrospective cohort studies and 2 randomised control trials, 1 cross sectional study, and 3 population-based studies. The prevalence of peripheral neuropathy amongst chronic alcohol abusers is 46.3% (CI 35.7- 57.3%) when confirmed via nerve conduction studies. Alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy generally presents as a progressive, predominantly sensory axonal length-dependent neuropathy. The most important risk factor for alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy is the total lifetime dose of ethanol, although other risk factors have been identified including genetic, male gender, and type of alcohol consumed. At present, it is unclear what the pathogenetic mechanisms for the development of neuropathy amongst those who chronically abuse alcohol are, and therefore, it is unknown whether it is attributed to the direct toxic effects of ethanol or another currently unidentified factor. There is presently sparse data to support a particular management strategy in alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy, but the limited data available appears to support the use of vitamin supplementation, particularly of B-vitamin regimens inclusive of thiamine.

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