INTRODUCTION: Youth obesity rates in Canada continue to rise. In this study, we produced conservative estimates of the potential excess calories from alcohol use across different alcohol consumption patterns common among Canadian youth to assess whether alcohol use should be considered in future obesity prevention strategies.

METHODS: Using data from 10 144 Grade 12 students participating in the COMPASS study (2013/14), we estimated the number of calories consumed per year from alcohol consumption. Our estimates were based on three different generic types of alcoholic beverages, which were grouped according to average calorie content (vodka coolers; beer [5%]; and beer [4%], wine and liquor) across different frequencies of alcohol use and binge drinking.

RESULTS: Results indicated high potential caloric intake for students who binge drank, as well as high variability in the estimates for calories consumed based on common consumption patterns for the different beverage types. For instance, 27.2% of students binge drank once per month, meaning they consumed between 6000 and 13 200 calories in one year (equivalent to 0.78 - 1.71 kg of fat). For the 4.9% of students who binge drank twice per week, the total calories in one year would range from 52 000 to 114 400 (equivalent to 6.74 - 14.83 kg of fat).

CONCLUSION: Current recommendations for preventing youth obesity do not generally include any consideration of alcohol use. The high prevalence of frequent alcohol consumption and binge drinking by youth in this study and the substantial number of calories contained in alcoholic beverages suggest alcohol use among youth may warrant consideration in relation to youth obesity prevention.

Published in General Health

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: Unique identifier: NCT02663791

Published in Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Alcohol contributes to approximately 30% of all serious crashes. While the majority of drivers acknowledge the risks associated with drink-driving, a significant proportion of the population continue to engage in this behaviour. Attitudes towards drink-driving as well as personal alcohol consumption patterns are likely to underpin a driver's decision to drink-drive. These associations were explored in the current study.

METHODS: A large (N=2994) cross-sectional online survey of a representative sample of drivers in Australia was conducted. Participants provided information about their own alcohol consumption patterns, drink-driving behaviour as well as attitudes towards drink-driving (own and others) and enforcement strategies.

RESULTS: Alcohol consumption patterns differed according to age, gender and work status. Drivers who reported drink-driving behaviour and had high risk alcohol consumption patterns were less likely to agree that drink-driving leads to increased crash risk and more likely to agree they drink and drive when they believed they could get away with it. In contrast, drivers who did not report drink-driving and had low risk consumption patterns were more likely to report that the enforcement strategies are too lenient. Binary logistic regression showed that high risk alcohol consumption patterns and agreement from drivers that they drink and drive when they believe they can get away with it had the strongest associations with drink-driving. These findings highlight the relationships between one's drinking patterns, drink-drive behaviour and attitudes towards drink-driving and drink-driving enforcement.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The patterns of associations that emerged suggest that drink-driving is the expression of a broader health issue for the most "at-risk" cohort of drinkers. The decision to drink and drive may result from a need borne from an alcohol dependent lifestyle exacerbated by a social acceptability of the behaviour and positive attitudes towards one's ability to drink-drive with few adverse consequences. Therefore, the broader alcohol consumption patterns of drink-drivers needs to be considered when targeting drink-drive reductions.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer even at moderate levels of intake. However, the relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality among breast cancer patients is less clear.

METHODS: This study included women from the Women's Health Initiative observational study and randomized trial diagnosed with breast cancer (n = 7,835). Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate adjusted HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for overall and breast cancer-specific (BCS) mortality associated with drinking alcohol before or after a breast cancer diagnosis. We also assessed whether changes in drinking habits after diagnosis are related to mortality.

RESULTS: Women who were consuming alcohol prior to their breast cancer diagnosis had a nonstatistically significant 24% (95% CI, 0.56-1.04) reduced risk of BCS mortality and a 26% (95% CI, 0.61-0.89) reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Some variation was observed by estrogen receptor (ER) status as alcohol consumption was associated with a 49% (95% CI, 0.31-0.83) reduced risk of BCS mortality among ER- patients with no change in risk observed among ER+ patients (HR = 0.97; 95% CI, 0.31-1.54), though the difference between these risks was not statistically significant (P for interaction = 0.39). Postdiagnosis alcohol consumption, and change in consumption patterns after diagnosis, did not appear to be associated with all-cause or BCS mortality.

CONCLUSION: In this large study, consumption of alcohol before or after breast cancer diagnosis did not increase risks of overall or cause-specific mortality.

IMPACT: Coupled with existing evidence, alcohol consumption is unlikely to have a substantial impact on mortality among breast cancer patients. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 1-6. (c)2016 AACR.

Published in Cancer
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