29 October 2018 In Cancer

Epidemiological studies have been used to show associations between modifiable lifestyle habits and the incidence of breast cancer. Among such factors, a history of alcohol use has been reported in multiple studies and meta-analyses over the past decades. However, associative epidemiological studies that were interpreted as evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption increases breast cancer incidence have been controversial. In this review, we consider the literature on the relationship between moderate or heavy alcohol use, both in possible biological mechanisms and in variations in susceptibility due to genetic or epigenetic factors. We argue that there is a need to incorporate additional approaches to move beyond the associations that are reported in traditional epidemiological analyses and incorporate information on molecular pathologic signatures as a requirement to posit causal inferences. In particular, we point to the efforts of the transdisciplinary field of molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE) to evaluate possible causal relationships, if any, of alcohol consumption and breast cancer. A wider application of the principles of MPE to this field would constitute a giant step that could enhance our understanding of breast cancer and multiple modifiable risk factors, a step that would be particularly suited to the era of "personalized medicine".

27 September 2018 In Drinking and Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Recent trends in alcoholic liver disease, alcohol-related emergency room admissions, and alcohol use disorder prevalence as measured by general-population surveys have raised concerns about rising alcohol-related morbidity and mortality in the United States. In contrast, upward trends in per capita alcohol consumption have been comparatively modest.

METHODS: To resolve these discordant observations, we sought to examine trends in the prevalence of alcohol use and binge drinking from 6 regularly or periodically administered national surveys using a meta-analytic approach. Annual or periodic prevalence estimates for past-12-month or past-30-day alcohol use and binge drinking were estimated for available time points between the years 2000 and 2016. Estimates were combined in a random-effects regression model in which prevalence was modeled as a log-linear function of time to obtain meta-analytic trend estimates for the full population and by sex, race, age, and educational attainment.

RESULTS: Meta-analysis-derived estimates of average annual percentage increase in the prevalence of alcohol use and binge drinking were 0.30% per year (95% CI: 0.22%, 0.38%) and 0.72% per year (95% CI: 0.46%, 0.98%), respectively. There was substantial between-survey heterogeneity among trend estimates, although there was notable consistency in the degree to which trends have impacted various demographic groups. For example, most surveys found that the changes in prevalence for alcohol use and binge drinking were large and positive for ages 50 to 64 and 65 and up, and smaller, negative, or nonsignificant for ages 18 to 29.

CONCLUSIONS: Significant increases in the prevalence of alcohol use and of binge drinking over the past 10 to 15 years were observed, but not for all demographic groups. However, the increase in binge drinking among middle-aged and older adults is substantial and may be driving increasing rates of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality.

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.

04 August 2017 In Pregnant Women

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population of Latin America and the Caribbean, by country, in 2012.

Methods: Three steps were taken: a comprehensive, systematic literature search; meta-analyses, assuming a random-effects model for countries with published studies; and regression modelling (data prediction) for countries with either no published studies or too few to obtain an estimate.

Results: Based on 24 existing studies, the pooled prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population was estimated for Brazil (15.2%; 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 10.4%-20.8%) and Mexico (1.2%; 95%CI: 0.0%-2.7%). The prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population was predicted for 31 countries and ranged from 4.8% (95%CI: 4.2%-5.4%) in Cuba to 23.3% (95%CI: 20.1%-26.5%) in Grenada.

Conclusions: Greater prevention efforts and measures are needed in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to prevent pregnant women from consuming alcohol during pregnancy and decrease the rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Additional high quality studies on the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean are also needed.

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