BACKGROUND: Alcohol and in particular red wine have both immunomodulatory and neuroprotective properties, and may exert an effect on the disease course of multiple sclerosis (MS).

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between alcohol and red wine consumption and MS course.

METHODS: MS patients enrolled in the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (CLIMB) who completed a self-administered questionnaire about their past year drinking habits at a single time point were included in the study. Alcohol and red wine consumption were measured as servings/week. The primary outcome was the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) at the time of the questionnaire. Secondary clinical outcomes were the Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) and number of relapses in the year before the questionnaire. Secondary MRI outcomes included brain parenchymal fraction and T2 hyperintense lesion volume (T2LV). Appropriate regression models were used to test the association of alcohol and red wine intake on clinical and MRI outcomes. All analyses were controlled for sex, age, body mass index, disease phenotype (relapsing vs. progressive), the proportion of time on disease modifying therapy during the previous year, smoking exposure, and disease duration. In the models for the MRI outcomes, analyses were also adjusted for acquisition protocol.

RESULTS: 923 patients (74% females, mean age 47 +/- 11 years, mean disease duration 14 +/- 9 years) were included in the analysis. Compared to abstainers, patients drinking more than 4 drinks per week had a higher likelihood of a lower EDSS score (OR, 0.41; p = 0.0001) and lower MSSS (mean difference, - 1.753; p = 0.002) at the time of the questionnaire. Similarly, patients drinking more than 3 glasses of red wine per week had greater odds of a lower EDSS (OR, 0.49; p = 0.0005) and lower MSSS (mean difference, - 0.705; p = 0.0007) compared to nondrinkers. However, a faster increase in T2LV was observed in patients consuming 1-3 glasses of red wine per week compared to nondrinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher total alcohol and red wine intake were associated with a lower cross-sectional level of neurologic disability in MS patients but increased T2LV accumulation. Further studies should explore a potential cause-effect neuroprotective relationship, as well as the underlying biological mechanisms.

Published in General Health

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the potential effects of alcohol by subtype on reported long-term weight change.

METHODS: This study examined changes in alcohol intake (total, wine, light beer, regular beer, and liquor) and simultaneous changes in reported body weight within 4-year periods from 1986 to 2010 from US men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The study adjusted for age, changes in lifestyle and dietary covariates, and cardiovascular risk factors.

RESULTS: The study included observations of 44,603 four-year periods from 14,971 men. Total alcohol, total beer, regular beer, and liquor intakes, modeled as the increase in weight per increase in drinks per day, were each directly associated with moderate weight gain over the 4-year periods, in pounds: total alcohol: 0.23 (0.10 to 0.35); total beer: 0.29 (0.08 to 0.51); regular beer: 0.61 (0.22 to 1.00); and liquor: 0.28 (0.09 to 0.48). Results for wine and light beer were as follows: wine: 0.16 (-0.04 to 0.36) and light beer: -0.38 (-1.07 to 0.08). Results were strongest for men < 55 years old.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased alcohol consumption was associated with minor reported weight gain at levels unlikely to be clinically meaningful. Beverage-specific differences were not substantial enough to make dietary recommendations for weight loss or maintenance by beverage type. The greatest risk of weight gain was among men who increased consumption to levels well above moderation.

Published in General Health
BACKGROUND: Compelling evidence suggests that excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), but the effect of light-moderate alcohol consumption is less certain. We investigated the association between alcohol consumption within recommended limits and AF risk in a light-drinking population. METHODS AND RESULTS: Among 47 002 participants with information on alcohol consumption in a population-based cohort study in Norway, conducted from October 2006 to June 2008, 1697 validated AF diagnoses were registered during the 8 years of follow-up. We used Cox proportional hazard models with fractional polynomials to analyze the association between alcohol intake and AF. Population attributable risk for drinking within the recommended limit (ie, at most 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men without risky drinking) compared with nondrinking was also calculated. The average alcohol intake was 3.8+/-4.8 g/d. The adjusted hazard ratio for AF was 1.38 (95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.80) when we compared participants consuming >7 drinks per week with abstainers. When we modeled the quantity of alcohol intake as a continuous variable, the risk increased in a curvilinear manner. It was higher with heavier alcohol intake, but there was virtually no association at <1 drink per day for women and <2 drinks per day for men in the absence of risky drinking. The population attributable risk among nonrisky drinkers was 0.07% (95% confidence interval, -0.01% to 0.13%). CONCLUSIONS: Although alcohol consumption was associated with a curvilinearly increasing risk of AF in general, the attributable risk of alcohol consumption within recommended limits among participants without binge or problem drinking was negligible in this population
Published in Cardiovascular System

An association between heavy alcohol drinking and gastric cancer risk has been recently reported, but the issue is still open to discussion and quantification. We investigated the role of alcohol drinking on gastric cancer risk in the "Stomach cancer Pooling (StoP) Project," a consortium of epidemiological studies. A total of 9,669 cases and 25,336 controls from 20 studies from Europe, Asia and North America were included. We estimated summary odds-ratios (ORs) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) by pooling study-specific ORs using random-effects meta-regression models. Compared with abstainers, drinkers of up to 4 drinks/day of alcohol had no increase in gastric cancer risk, while the ORs were 1.26 (95% CI, 1.08-1.48) for heavy (>4 to 6 drinks/day) and 1.48 (95% CI 1.29-1.70) for very heavy (>6 drinks/day) drinkers. The risk for drinkers of >4 drinks/day was higher in never smokers (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.35-2.58) as compared with current smokers (OR 1.14, 95% CI 0.93-1.40). Somewhat stronger associations emerged with heavy drinking in cardia (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.11-2.34) than in non-cardia (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.13-1.45) gastric cancers, and in intestinal-type (OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.20-1.97) than in diffuse-type (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.05-1.58) cancers. The association was similar in strata of H. pylori infected (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.16-2.00) and noninfected subjects (OR = 1.69, 95% CI 0.95-3.01). Our collaborative pooled-analysis provides definite, more precise quantitative evidence than previously available of an association between heavy alcohol drinking and gastric cancer risk.

Published in Cancer
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