21 February 2020 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

26 February 2019 In Cancer

PURPOSE: Breast cancer (BC) risk prediction allows systematic identification of individuals at highest and lowest risk. We extend the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA) risk model to incorporate the effects of polygenic risk scores (PRS) and other risk factors (RFs).

METHODS: BOADICEA incorporates the effects of truncating variants in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM; a PRS based on 313 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) explaining 20% of BC polygenic variance; a residual polygenic component accounting for other genetic/familial effects; known lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive RFs; and mammographic density, while allowing for missing information.

RESULTS: Among all factors considered, the predicted UK BC risk distribution is widest for the PRS, followed by mammographic density. The highest BC risk stratification is achieved when all genetic and lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive/anthropomorphic factors are considered jointly. With all factors, the predicted lifetime risks for women in the UK population vary from 2.8% for the 1st percentile to 30.6% for the 99th percentile, with 14.7% of women predicted to have a lifetime risk of >/=17-<30% (moderate risk according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] guidelines) and 1.1% a lifetime risk of >/=30% (high risk).

CONCLUSION: This comprehensive model should enable high levels of BC risk stratification in the general population and women with family history, and facilitate individualized, informed decision-making on prevention therapies and screening.

26 February 2019 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: We aimed to understand the factors shaping alcohol consumption patterns in middle-aged women (45-64), and to identify participant-driven population- and policy-level strategies that may be used to addresses alcohol consumption and reduce breast cancer risk.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews (n = 35) were conducted with 'middle-aged' women conversant in English and living in South Australia with no history of breast cancer diagnosis. Data were deductively coded using a co-developed framework including variables relevant to our study objectives. Women were asked about their current level of awareness of the association between alcohol and breast cancer risk, and their personal recommendations for how to decrease consumption in middle-aged Australian women.

RESULTS: Women discussed their previous efforts to decrease consumption, which we drew on to identify preliminary recommendations for consumption reduction. We identified a low level of awareness of alcohol and breast cancer risk, and confusion related to alcohol as a risk for breast cancer, but not always causing breast cancer. Participants suggested that education and awareness, through various means, may help to reduce consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants' description of strategies used to reduce their own consumption lead us to suggest that campaigns might focus on the more salient and immediate effects of alcohol (e.g. on physical appearance and mental health) rather than longer-term consequences. Critical considerations for messaging include addressing the personal, physical and social pleasures that alcohol provides, and how these may differ across socio-demographics.

22 February 2019 In Liver Disease

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the longitudinal relationship between repeated measures of alcohol consumption and risk of developing fatty liver.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This study includes 5407 men and women from a British population-based cohort, the Whitehall II study of civil servants, who self-reported alcohol consumption by questionnaire over approximately 30 years (1985-1989 through to 2012-2013). Drinking typologies during midlife were linked to measures of fatty liver (the fatty liver index, FLI) when participants were in older age (age range 60-84 years) and adjusted for age, socio-economic position, ethnicity, and smoking.

RESULTS: Those who consistently drank heavily had two-fold higher odds of increased FLI compared to stable low-risk moderate drinkers after adjustment for covariates (men: OR = 2.04, 95%CI = 1.53-2.74; women: OR = 2.24, 95%CI = 1.08-4.55). Former drinkers also had an increased FLI compared to low-risk drinkers (men: OR = 2.09, 95%CI = 1.55-2.85; women: OR = 1.68, 95%CI = 1.08-2.67). There were non-significant differences in FLI between non-drinkers and stable low-risk drinkers. Among women, there was no increased risk for current heavy drinkers in cross sectional analyses.

CONCLUSION: Drinking habits among adults during midlife affect the development of fatty liver, and sustained heavy drinking is associated with an increased FLI compared to stable low-risk drinkers. After the exclusion of former drinkers, there was no difference between non-drinkers and low-risk drinkers, which does not support a protective effect on fatty liver from low-risk drinking. Cross-sectional analyses among women did not find an increased risk of heavy drinking compared to low-risk drinkers, thus highlighting the need to take a longitudinal approach.

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