OBJECTIVE: To determine whether alcohol consumption is causally associated with cognitive impairment in older men as predicted by mendelian randomization.

METHODS: Retrospective analysis of a cohort study of 3,542 community-dwelling men aged 65 to 83 years followed for 6 years. Cognitive impairment was established by a Mini-Mental State Examination score of 23 or less. Participants provided detailed information about their use of alcohol during the preceding year and were classified as abstainers, occasional drinkers, and regular drinkers: mild (/=35 drinks/wk). We genotyped the rs1229984 G-->A variant of the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B (ADH1B) gene, which is associated with lower prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence. Other measures included age, education, marital status, smoking and physical activity, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases.

RESULTS: At study entry, rs1229984 G-->A polymorphism was associated with lower prevalence of regular use of alcohol and decreased consumption among regular users. Six years later, 502 men (14.2%) showed evidence of cognitive impairment. Abstainers and irregular drinkers had higher odds of cognitive impairment than regular drinkers (odds ratio [OR] = 1.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00-1.51, after adjustment for other measured factors). The rs1229984 G-->A polymorphism did not decrease the odds of cognitive impairment (AA/GG OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 0.29-6.27; GA/GG OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 0.71-1.55).

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol consumption, including heavy regular drinking and abuse, is not a direct cause of cognitive impairment in later life. Our results are consistent with the possibility, but do not prove, that regular moderate drinking decreases the risk of cognitive impairment in older men.

Published in Dementia

BACKGROUND: Although high alcohol consumption has been associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), the role of light to moderate drinking remains unclear.

OBJECTIVES: The study sought to investigate the association between alcohol consumption and AF risk in a prospective study of Swedish men and women and to conduct a meta-analysis of prospective studies to summarize available evidence.

METHODS: We followed 79,019 men and women who, at baseline, were free from AF and had completed a questionnaire about alcohol consumption and other risk factors for chronic diseases. Incident AF cases were ascertained by linkage to the Swedish Inpatient Register. For the meta-analysis, studies were identified by searching PubMed through January 10, 2014, and by reviewing references of pertinent publications. Study-specific relative risks (RRs) were combined using a random effects model.

RESULTS: Over 859,420 person-years of follow-up (1998 to 2009), 7,245 incident AF cases were identified in our own cohort study. The association between alcohol consumption and AF did not differ by sex (p for interaction = 0.74). Compared with current drinkers of 21 drinks/week. Results were similar after excluding binge drinkers. In a meta-analysis of 7 prospective studies, including 12,554 AF cases, the RRs were 1.08 (95% CI: 1.06 to 1.10) for 1 drink/day, 1.17 (95% CI: 1.13 to 1.21) for 2 drinks/day, 1.26 (95% CI: 1.19 to 1.33) for 3 drinks/day, 1.36 (95% CI: 1.27 to 1.46) for 4 drinks/day, and 1.47 (95% CI: 1.34 to 1.61) for 5 drinks/day, compared with nondrinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that alcohol consumption, even at moderate intakes, is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.

Published in Cardiovascular System

Epidemiological and experimental studies have revealed that a mild to moderate drinking of wine, particularly red wine, attenuates the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular risk. However, the experimental basis for such health benefits is not fully understood. The cardioprotective effect of wine has been attributed to both components of wine: the alcoholic portion and, more importantly, the alcohol-free portion containing antioxidants. Wines are manufactured from grapes, which also contain a large variety of antioxidants, including resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins. Resveratrol is mainly found in the grape skin, whereas proanthocyanidins are found only in the seeds. Recent studies have demonstrated that resveratrol and proanthocyanidin are the major compounds present in grapes and wines responsible for cardioprotection. The purpose of this review is to provide evidence that grapes, wines, and resveratrol are equally important in reducing the risk of morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular complications. Both wines and grapes can attenuate cardiac diseases such as atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease. Recently, wine was also found to increase life span by inducing longevity genes. It appears that resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, especially resveratrol, present in grapes and wines play a crucial role in cardioprotective abilities of grapes and wines.

Published in Phenolic compounds

Data were available from general population surveys carried out in six countries in the years 2000 to 2005 under the auspices of Gender, Alcohol and Culture: An International Study (GENACIS). A total of 2089 adults aged 24-32 in the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Isle of Man, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK) responded to questions about their drinking habits and social consequences directly resulting from their drinking. Survey methods varied from quota sampling with face-to-face interviewing in Spain and the UK to telephone surveys in Denmark and Sweden. Response rates varied from 50% to 72%. "Binge drinking" defined as a usual amount of more than 8 UK "units" for men and more than 6 units for women was more likely than moderate drinking to lead to social consequences, fights, or being asked to cut down on drinking. There were highly significant differences between the countries both in the percentages of "heavy" drinkers and in the adverse consequences of binge drinking. In Spain, the UK, and the Czech Republic binge drinking was more likely to lead to adverse consequences than was binge drinking in the other three countries. Male gender, low educational level, high drinking frequency, and single marital status were also significantly associated with adverse social consequences from drinking, but none of these variables explained the country differences. The presence of children had little effect.

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