07 February 2023 In Liver Disease

Alcohol use and metabolic syndrome are highly prevalent in the population and frequently co-exist. Both are implicated in a large range of health problems, including chronic liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver-related outcomes (i.e. decompensation or liver transplantation). Studies have yielded mixed results regarding the effects of mild-moderate alcohol consumption on the risk of metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease, possibly due to methodological differences.

The few available prospective studies have indicated that mild-moderate alcohol use is associated with an increase in liver-related outcomes.

This conclusion was substantiated by systems biology analyses suggesting that alcohol and metabolic syndrome may play a similar role in fatty liver disease, potentiating an already existing dysregulation of common vital homeostatic pathways. Alcohol and metabolic factors are independently and jointly associated with liver-related outcomes. Indeed, metabolic syndrome increases the risk of liver-related outcomes, regardless of alcohol intake. Moreover, the components of metabolic syndrome appear to have additive effects when it comes to the risk of liver-related outcomes. A number of population studies have implied that measures of central/abdominal obesity, such as the waist-to-hip ratio, can predict liver-related outcomes more accurately than BMI, including in individuals who consume harmful quantities of alcohol.

Many studies even point to synergistic interactions between harmful alcohol use and many metabolic components. This accumulating evidence showing independent, combined, and modifying effects of alcohol and metabolic factors on the onset and progression of chronic liver disease highlights the multifactorial background of liver disease in the population. The available evidence suggests that more holistic approaches could be useful for risk prediction, diagnostics and treatment planning.

07 February 2023 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: There is uncertainty about the association between alcohol consumption and stroke, particularly for low-moderate intake. We explored these associations in a large international study. METHODS: INTERSTROKE, a case-control study, is the largest international study of risk factors for acute stroke. Alcohol consumption was self-reported and categorized by drinks/week as low (1-7), moderate (7-14 for females and 7-21 for males), or high (>14 for females and >21 for males).

Heavy episodic drinking (HED) was defined as >5 drinks on >/=1 day per month. Multivariable conditional logistic regression was used to determine associations. RESULTS: We included 12,913 cases and 12,935 controls; 25.0% (n = 6,449) were current drinkers, 16.7% (n = 4,318) former drinkers, and 58.3% (n = 15,076) never drinkers. Current drinkers were younger, male, smokers, active, and with higher-paid occupations. Current drinking was associated with all stroke (OR 1.14; 95% CI 1.04-1.26) and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) (OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.21-1.84) but not ischemic stroke (OR 1.06; 95% CI 0.95-1.19).

HED pattern was associated with all stroke (OR 1.39; 95% CI 1.21-1.59), ischemic stroke (OR 1.29; 95% CI 1.10-1.51), and ICH (OR 1.76; 95% CI 1.31-2.36). High level of alcohol intake was consistently associated with all stroke, ischemic stroke, and ICH. Moderate intake was associated with all stroke and ICH but not ischemic stroke. Low alcohol intake was not associated with stroke overall, but there were regional differences; low intake was associated with reduced odds of stroke in Western Europe/North America (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.45-0.96) and increased odds in India (OR 2.18; 95% CI 1.42-3.36) (p-interaction 0.037). Wine consumption was associated with reduced odds of all stroke and ischemic stroke but not ICH. The magnitudes of association were greatest in those without hypertension and current smokers.

DISCUSSION: High and moderate intake were associated with increased odds of stroke, whereas low intake was not associated with stroke. However, there were important regional variations, which may relate to differences in population characteristics of alcohol consumers, types or patterns of consumption.

23 November 2022 In General Health

Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and is interrelated to stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. The Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) has been closely associated with reduced CVD morbidity and mortality, but research is not well explored for this relationship in individuals with diabetes (who experience greater CVD morbidity and mortality than individuals without diabetes). The aim of this review was to explore the literature related to the MedDiet and atherosclerosis and associated risk factors in individuals with and without diabetes. In total, 570 articles were identified, and 36 articles were included. The articles were published between 2011 and 2021. Platforms used for the search were PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and ProQuest. Our literature search included clinical and observational studies. Clinical studies revealed the MedDiet was associated with improved biomarkers, plaque, and anthropometric measurements that are associated with atherosclerosis and CVD. Observational studies identified associations between the MedDiet and lower presence of atherosclerosis, improved vascular aging, and increased endothelial progenitor cells. However, most of the studies took place in Mediterranean countries. Further research is needed to better understand the long-term effects the MedDiet on atherosclerosis and its associated risk factors in diverse populations to include individuals with and without diabetes.

23 November 2022 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a discretionary, energy dense, dietary component. Compared to non-drinkers, people who consume alcohol report higher total energy intake and may be at increased risk of weight gain, overweight, and obesity, which are key preventable risk factors for illness. However, accurate consumer knowledge of the energy content in alcohol is low. To inform future behaviour change interventions among drinkers, this study investigated individual characteristics associated with changing alcohol consumption due to energy-related concerns.

METHODS: An online survey was undertaken with 801 Australian adult drinkers (18-59 years, 50.2% female), i.e. who consumed alcohol at least monthly. In addition to demographic and health-related characteristics, participants reported past-year alcohol consumption, past-year reductions in alcohol consumption, frequency of harm minimisation strategy use (when consuming alcohol), and frequency of changing alcohol consumption behaviours because of energy-related concerns.

RESULTS: When prompted, 62.5% of participants reported changing alcohol consumption for energy-related reasons at least 'sometimes'. Women, those aged 30-44 years, metropolitan residents, those with household income $80,001-120,000, and risky/more frequent drinkers had increased odds of changing consumption because of energy-related concerns, and unemployed respondents had reduced odds.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that some sociodemographic groups are changing alcohol consumption for energy-related reasons, but others are not, representing an underutilised opportunity for health promotion communication. Further research should investigate whether messaging to increase awareness of alcohol energy content, including through systems-based policy actions such as nutritional/energy product labelling, would motivate reduced consumption across a broader range of drinkers.

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