OBJECTIVE: Moderate alcohol use has been broadly associated with health benefits among older adults, including improved mood. Aims of this study were to evaluate the relationship of moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology over a period of eight years, and to examine inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), as one mechanism by which this relationship functions.

METHODS: The study included 3177 community-dwelling participants over the age of 65 in 2008 drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. Data from the 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 waves were used. Alcohol use was measured via self-report and was dichotomized as abstinent (0 drinks per week) and moderate (1-14 drinks per week). Inflammation was measured using CRP, which was collected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and provided in units of mug/mL. Control variables included gender, age, body mass index (BMI), and medical burden.

RESULTS: A latent growth curve model with full information maximum likelihood was used, with results revealing that moderate drinkers endorsed fewer depressive symptoms at baseline and a steeper rate of change over time. Abstinent respondents' depressive symptomatology was characterized by a more linear change rate. Further, moderate drinkers had lower CRP levels suggesting that inflammation partially mediates the relationship between moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol use predicts fewer depressive symptoms among older adults. This relationship is partially moderated by CRP and is eroded by the passage of time. Future research should identify additional mechanisms relating alcohol to positive health outcomes and less depressive symptomatology. Copyright (c) 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Published in General Health

PURPOSE: Endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation are key phenomena in the pathobiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Their dietary modification might explain the observed reduction in CVD that has been associated with a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, low in dairy products and with moderate alcohol and red wine consumption. We investigated the associations between the above food groups and endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation in a population-based cohort of Dutch elderly individuals.

METHODS: Diet was measured by food frequency questionnaire (n = 801; women = 399; age 68.5 +/- 7.2 years). Endothelial dysfunction was determined (1) by combining von Willebrand factor, and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (sICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, endothelial selectin and thrombomodulin, using Z-scores, into a biomarker score and (2) by flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), and low-grade inflammation by combining C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, interleukin 6, interleukin 8, tumour necrosis factor alpha and sICAM-1 into a biomarker score, with smaller FMD and higher scores representing more dysfunction and inflammation, respectively. We used linear regression analyses to adjust associations for sex, age, energy, glucose metabolism, body mass index, smoking, prior CVD, educational level, physical activity and each of the other food groups.

RESULTS: Moderate [beta (95% CI) -0.13 (-0.33; 0.07)] and high [-0.22 (-0.45; -0.003)] alcohol consumption, and red wine [-0.16 (-0.30; -0.01)] consumption, but none of the other food groups, were associated with a lower endothelial dysfunction biomarker score and a greater FMD. The associations for FMD were, however, not statistically significant. Only red wine consumption was associated with a lower low-grade inflammation biomarker score [-0.18 (-0.33; -0.04)].

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol and red wine consumption may favourably influence processes involved in atherothrombosis.

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: It is unknown if wine, beer and spirit intake lead to a similar association with diabetes. We studied the association between alcoholic beverage preference and type 2 diabetes incidence in persons who reported to consume alcohol.

SUBJECTS/METHODS: Ten European cohort studies from the Consortium on Health and Ageing: Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States were included, comprising participant data of 62 458 adults who reported alcohol consumption at baseline. Diabetes incidence was based on documented and/or self-reported diagnosis during follow-up. Preference was defined when 70% of total alcohol consumed was either beer, wine or spirits. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were computed using Cox proportional hazard regression. Single-cohort HRs were pooled by random-effects meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Beer, wine or spirit preference was not related to diabetes risk compared with having no preference. The pooled HRs were HR 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93, 1.20) for beer, HR 0.99 (95% CI 0.88, 1.11) for wine, and HR 1.19 (95% CI 0.97, 1.46) for spirit preference. Absolute wine intake, adjusted for total alcohol, was associated with a lower diabetes risk: pooled HR per 6 g/day was 0.96 (95% CI 0.93, 0.99). A spirit preference was related to a higher diabetes risk in those with a higher body mass index, in men and women separately, but not after excluding persons with prevalent diseases.

CONCLUSIONS: This large individual-level meta-analysis among persons who reported alcohol consumption revealed that the preference for beer, wine, and spirits was similarly associated with diabetes incidence compared with having no preference.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 22 February 2017; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.4

Published in Diabetes

BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence suggests that arterial stiffness, an important marker of cardiovascular health, is associated with alcohol consumption. However, the role of longer-term consumption patterns in the progression of arterial stiffness over time remains unclear. A longitudinal cohort design was used to evaluate the association between alcohol consumption over 25 years and subsequent changes in arterial stiffness.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Data (N=3869; 73% male) were drawn from the Whitehall II cohort study of British civil servants, in which participants completed repeat pulse wave velocity assessments of arterial stiffness across a 4- to 5-year interval. Repeated alcohol intake measurements were used to categorize participants into alcohol consumer types, accounting for longitudinal variability in consumption. Sex-stratified linear mixed-effects modeling was used to investigate whether drinker types differed in their relationship to pulse wave velocity and its progression over time. Males with consistent long-term heavy intake >112 g of ethanol/week had significantly higher baseline pulse wave velocity (b=0.26 m/s; P=0.045) than those who drank consistently moderately (1-112 g of ethanol/week). Male former drinkers showed significantly greater increases in arterial stiffness longitudinally compared to consistently moderate drinkers (b=0.11 m/s; P=0.009). All associations were nonsignificant for females after adjustment for body mass index, heart rate, mean arterial pressure, diabetes mellitus, high-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides.

CONCLUSIONS: This work demonstrates that consistently heavy alcohol consumption is associated with higher cardiovascular risk, especially among males, and also provides new insights into the potential impact of changes in drinking levels over time. It discusses the additional insights possible when capturing longitudinal consumption patterns in lieu of reliance on recent intake alone.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT02663791

Published in Cardiovascular System

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