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

Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy are among the strongest and most preventable risk factors for adverse neonatal health outcomes, but few developmentally sensitive, population-based studies of this phenomenon have been conducted. To address this gap, the present study examined the prevalence and correlates of alcohol and tobacco use among pregnant adolescents (aged 12-17) and adults (aged 18-44) in the United States. Data were derived from the population-based National Survey of Drug Use and Health (80,498 adolescent and 152,043 adult women) between 2005 and 2014. Findings show disconcerting levels of past-month use among pregnant women with 11.5% of adolescent and 8.7% of adult women using alcohol, and 23.0% of adolescent and 14.9% of adult women using tobacco. Compared to their non-pregnant counterparts, pregnant adolescents were less likely to report past 30-day alcohol use (AOR=0.52, 95% CI=0.36-0.76), but more likely to report past 30-day tobacco use (AOR=2.20, 95% CI=1.53-3.18). Compared to their non-pregnant adult counterparts, pregnant adults were less likely to report using alcohol (AOR=0.06, 95% CI=0.05-0.07) and tobacco (AOR=0.47, 95% CI=0.43-0.52). Compared to pregnant abstainers, pregnant women reporting alcohol/tobacco use were more likely to have had a major depressive episode in the past 12 months, report criminal justice system involvement, and endorse comorbid alcohol/tobacco use. Given alcohol and tobacco's deleterious consequences during pregnancy, increased attention to reducing use is critical. Findings suggest that tobacco use is especially problematic for both adolescents and adults and is strongly linked with depression and criminal justice involvement, especially among adults.

Published in Pregnant Women

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

The occurrence of more than 200 diseases, including cancer, can be attributed to alcohol drinking. The global cancer deaths attributed to alcohol-consumption rose from 243,000 in 1990 to 337,400 in 2010. In 2010, cancer deaths due to alcohol consumption accounted for 4.2% of all cancer deaths. Strong epidemiological evidence has established the causal role of alcohol in the development of various cancers, including esophageal cancer, head and neck cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. The evidence for the association between alcohol and other cancers is inconclusive. Because of the high prevalence of ALDH2*2 allele among East Asian populations, East Asians may be more susceptible to the carcinogenic effect of alcohol, with most evidence coming from studies of esophageal cancer and head and neck cancer, while data for other cancers are more limited. The high prevalence of ALDH2*2 allele in East Asian populations may have important public health implications and may be utilized to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related cancers among East Asians, including: 1) Identification of individuals at high risk of developing alcohol-related cancers by screening for ALDH2 polymorphism; 2) Incorporation of ALDH2 polymorphism screening into behavioral intervention program for promoting alcohol abstinence or reducing alcohol consumption; 3) Using ALDH2 polymorphism as a prognostic indicator for alcohol-related cancers; 4) Targeting ALDH2 for chemoprevention; and 5) Setting guidelines for alcohol consumption among ALDH2 deficient individuals. Future studies should evaluate whether these strategies are effective for preventing the occurrence of alcohol-related cancers.

Published in Cancer
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