15 December 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Alcohol consumption frequency and volume are known to be related to health problems among drinkers. Most of the existing literature that analyses regional variation in drinking behaviour uses measures of consumption that relate only to volume, such as 'binge drinking'. This study compares the regional association of alcohol consumption using measures of drinking frequency (daily drinking) and volume (binge drinking) using a nationally representative sample of residents using the Health Survey for England, 2011-2013. Results suggest the presence of two differentiated drinking patterns with relevant policy implications. We find that people in northern regions are more likely to binge drink, whereas people in southern regions are more likely to drink on most days. Regression analysis shows that regional variation in binge drinking remains strong when taking into account individual and neighbourhood level controls. The findings provide support for regional targeting of interventions that aim to reduce the frequency as well as volume of drinking.

15 December 2016 In Dementia

AIMS: To investigate the underlying neurobiology between alcohol use, misuse and dependence and cognitive impairment, particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD).

METHODS: Review of the literature using searches of Medline, Pubmed, EMBASE, PsycInfo, and meeting abstracts and presentations.

RESULTS: The role of alcohol as a risk factor and contributor for cognitive decline associated with AD has received little attention. This is despite the high prevalence of alcohol use, the potential reversibility of a degree of cognitive impairment and the global burden of AD. Until now the focus has largely been on the toxic effects of alcohol, neuronal loss and the role of thiamine.

CONCLUSION: We propose alcohol adds to the cognitive burden seen in dementia through additional mechanisms to neurodegenerative processes or may contribute at various mechanistic points in the genesis and sustenance of AD pathology via neuroinflammation. We describe the common underlying neurobiology in alcohol and AD, and examine ways alcohol likely contributes to neuroinflammation directly via stimulation of Toll-like receptors and indirectly from small bowel changes, hepatic changes, withdrawal and traumatic brain injury to the pathogenesis of AD.

SHORT SUMMARY: Alcohol use, misuse and dependence cause cognitive impairment. We propose alcohol adds to the cognitive burden seen in dementia through additional mechanisms to neurodegenerative processes or may contribute at various mechanistic points in the genesis and sustenance of AD pathology via neuroinflammation.

15 December 2016 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Whether light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is protective against stroke, and whether any association differs by stroke type, is controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize the evidence from prospective studies on alcohol drinking and stroke types.

METHODS: Studies were identified by searching PubMed to September 1, 2016, and reference lists of retrieved articles. Additional data from 73,587 Swedish adults in two prospective studies were included. Study-specific results were combined in a random-effects model.

RESULTS: The meta-analysis included 27 prospective studies with data on ischemic stroke (25 studies), intracerebral hemorrhage (11 studies), and/or subarachnoid hemorrhage (11 studies). Light and moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke, whereas high and heavy drinking was associated with an increased risk; the overall RRs were 0.90 (95 % CI, 0.85-0.95) for less than 1 drink/day, 0.92 (95 % CI, 0.87-0.97) for 1-2 drinks/day, 1.08 (95 % CI, 1.01-1.15) for more than 2-4 drinks/day, and 1.14 (95 % CI, 1.02-1.28) for more than 4 drinks/day. Light and moderate alcohol drinking was not associated with any hemorrhagic stroke subtype. High alcohol consumption (>2-4 drinks/day) was associated with a non-significant increased risk of both hemorrhagic stroke subtypes, and the relative risk for heavy drinking (>4 drinks/day) were 1.67 (95 % CI, 1.25-2.23) for intracerebral hemorrhage and 1.82 (95 % CI, 1.18-2.82) for subarachnoid hemorrhage.

CONCLUSION: Light and moderate alcohol consumption was inversely associated only with ischemic stroke, whereas heavy drinking was associated with increased risk of all stroke types with a stronger association for hemorrhagic strokes.

15 December 2016 In Cardiovascular System

Alcohol is popular in Western culture, supported by a perception that modest intake is cardioprotective. However, excessive drinking has detrimental implications for cardiovascular disease. Atrial fibrillation (AF) following an alcohol binge or the "holiday heart syndrome" is well characterized. However, more modest levels of alcohol intake on a regular basis may also increase the risk of AF. The pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for the relationship between alcohol and AF may include direct toxicity and alcohol's contribution to obesity, sleep-disordered breathing, and hypertension. We aim to provide a comprehensive review of the epidemiology and pathophysiology by which alcohol may be responsible for AF and determine whether alcohol abstinence is required for patients with AF.

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