BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Several studies have reported a significant inverse association of light to moderate alcohol consumption with coronary heart disease (CHD). However, studies assessing the relationship between alcohol consumption and atherosclerosis have reported inconsistent results. The current study was conducted to determine the relationship between alcohol consumption and aortic calcification.

METHODS: We addressed the research question using data from the population-based ERA-JUMP Study, comprising of 1006 healthy men aged 40-49 years, without clinical cardiovascular diseases, from four race/ethnicities: 301 Whites, 103 African American, 292 Japanese American, and 310 Japanese in Japan. Aortic calcification was assessed by electron-beam computed tomography and quantified using the Agatston method. Alcohol consumption was categorized into four groups: 0 (non-drinkers), 1 to 3 drinks per day (heavy drinkers) (1 drink = 12.5 g of ethanol). Tobit conditional regression and ordinal logistic regression were used to investigate the association of alcohol consumption with aortic calcification after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and potential confounders.

RESULTS: The study participants consisted of 25.6% nondrinkers, 35.3% light drinkers, 23.5% moderate drinkers, and 15.6% heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers [Tobit ratio (95% CI) = 2.34 (1.10, 4.97); odds ratio (95% CI) = 1.67 (1.11, 2.52)] had significantly higher expected aortic calcification score compared to nondrinkers, after adjusting for socio-demographic and confounding variables. There was no significant interaction between alcohol consumption and race/ethnicity on aortic calcification.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that heavy alcohol consumption may be an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Published in Cardiovascular System

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.

Published in Pregnant Women

Alcohol consumption is a complex trait determined by both genetic and environmental factors, and is correlated with the risk of alcohol use disorders. Although a small number of genetic loci have been reported to be associated with variation in alcohol consumption, genetic factors are estimated to explain about half of the variance in alcohol consumption, suggesting that additional loci remain to be discovered. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of alcohol consumption in the large Genetic Epidemiology Research in Adult Health and Aging (GERA) cohort, in four race/ethnicity groups: non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic/Latinos, East Asians and African Americans. We examined two statistically independent phenotypes reflecting subjects' alcohol consumption during the past year, based on self-reported information: any alcohol intake (drinker/non-drinker status) and the regular quantity of drinks consumed per week (drinks/week) among drinkers. We assessed these two alcohol consumption phenotypes in each race/ethnicity group, and in a combined trans-ethnic meta-analysis comprising a total of 86 627 individuals. We observed the strongest association between the previously reported single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs671 in ALDH2 and alcohol drinker status (odd ratio (OR)=0.40, P=2.28 x 10-72) in East Asians, and also an effect on drinks/week (beta=-0.17, P=5.42 x 10-4) in the same group. We also observed a genome-wide significant association in non-Hispanic whites between the previously reported SNP rs1229984 in ADH1B and both alcohol consumption phenotypes (OR=0.79, P=2.47 x 10-20 for drinker status and beta=-0.19, P=1.91 x 10-35 for drinks/week), which replicated in Hispanic/Latinos (OR=0.72, P=4.35 x 10-7 and beta=-0.21, P=2.58 x 10-6, respectively). Although prior studies reported effects of ADH1B and ALDH2 on lifetime measures, such as risk of alcohol dependence, our study adds further evidence of the effect of the same genes on a cross-sectional measure of average drinking. Our trans-ethnic meta-analysis confirmed recent findings implicating the KLB and GCKR loci in alcohol consumption, with strongest associations observed for rs7686419 (beta=-0.04, P=3.41 x 10-10 for drinks/week and OR=0.96, P=4.08 x 10-5 for drinker status), and rs4665985 (beta=0.04, P=2.26 x 10-8 for drinks/week and OR=1.04, P=5 x 10-4 for drinker status), respectively. Finally, we also obtained confirmatory results extending previous findings implicating AUTS2, SGOL1 and SERPINC1 genes in alcohol consumption traits in non-Hispanic whites.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 9 May 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.101

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND: The majority of U.S. older adults consume alcoholic beverages. The older population is projected to almost double by 2050. Substantially more drinkers are likely.

PURPOSE: To describe gender-specific trends (1997 to 2014) in prevalence of drinking status (lifetime abstention, former drinking, current drinking [including average volume], and binge drinking) among U.S. adults ages 60+ by age group and birth cohort.

METHODS: In the 1997 to 2014 National Health Interview Surveys, 65,303 respondents ages 60+ (31,803 men, 33,500 women) were current drinkers; 6,570 men and 1,737 women were binge drinkers. Prevalence estimates and standard errors were computed by age group (60+, 60 to 64, 65 to 69, 70 to 74, 75 to 79, 80+) and birth cohort (<1925, 1925 to 1935, 1936 to 1945, 1946 to 1954). Trends were examined using joinpoint regression and described as average annual percent change (AAPC; overall change 1997 to 2014) and annual percent change (APC; in-between infection points). Primary analyses were unadjusted. All analyses (unadjusted and adjusted for demographics/lifestyle) were weighted to produce nationally representative estimates. Statistical procedures accounted for the complex survey design.

RESULTS: Among men ages 60+, unadjusted prevalence of current drinking trended upward, on average, 0.7% per year (AAPC, p = 0.02); average volume and prevalence of binge drinking remained stable. Adjusted results were similar. Among women age 60+, unadjusted prevalence of current drinking trended upward, on average, 1.6% per year (AAPC, p < 0.0001), but average volume remained stable; prevalence of binge drinking increased, on average, 3.7% per year (AAPC, p < 0.0001). Adjusted results were similar. Trends varied by age group and birth cohort. Among men born 1946 to 1954, unadjusted prevalence of current drinking trended upward, on average, 2.4% per year (AAPC, p = 0.02); adjusted results were nonsignificant.

CONCLUSIONS: Our finding of upward trends in drinking among adults ages 60+, particularly women, suggests the importance of public health planning to meet future needs for alcohol-related programs.

Published in Drinking Patterns
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