Alcoholic beverages have been consumed for thousands of years, attracting great human interest for social, personal, and religious occasions. In addition, they have long been debated to confer cardioprotective benefits. The French Paradox is an observation of a low prevalence of ischemic heart disease, with high intakes of saturated fat, a phenomenon accredited to the consumption of red wine. Although many epidemiological investigations have supported this view, others have attributed it to beer or spirits, with many suggesting that the drink type is not important. Although excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages is commonly regarded to be detrimental to cardiovascular health, there is a debate as to whether light-to-moderate intake is cardioprotective. Although there is extensive epidemiological support for this drinking pattern, a consensus has not been reached. On the basis of published work, we describe the composition of wine and the effects of constituent polyphenols on chronic cardiovascular diseases.

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have revealed inconsistent findings regarding the association of light to moderate alcohol consumption with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the association between alcohol consumption and risk of mortality from all causes, cancer, and CVD in U.S. adults. METHODS: Data were obtained by linking 13 waves of the National Health Interview Surveys (1997 to 2009) to the National Death Index records through December 31, 2011. A total of 333,247 participants >/=18 years of age were included. Self-reported alcohol consumption patterns were categorized into 6 groups: lifetime abstainers; lifetime infrequent drinkers; former drinkers; and current light, moderate, or heavy drinkers. Secondary exposure included participants' binge-drinking status. The main outcome was all-cause, cancer, or CVD mortality.

RESULTS: After a median follow-up of 8.2 years (2.7 million person-years), 34,754 participants died of all causes (including 8,947 CVD deaths and 8,427 cancer deaths). Compared with lifetime abstainers, those who were light or moderate alcohol consumers were at a reduced risk of mortality for all causes (light-hazard ratio [HR]: 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.76 to 0.82; moderate-HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.74 to 0.82) and CVD (light-HR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.69 to 0.80; moderate-HR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.64 to 0.78), respectively. In contrast, there was a significantly increased risk of mortality for all causes (HR: 1.11; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.19) and cancer (HR: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.42) in adults with heavy alcohol consumption. Binge drinking >/=1 d/week was also associated with an increased risk of mortality for all causes (HR: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.23) and cancer (HR: 1.22; 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.41).

CONCLUSIONS: Light and moderate alcohol intake might have a protective effect on all-cause and CVD-specific mortality in U.S. adults. Heavy or binge drinking was associated with increased risk of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality.

Published in General Health

'Responsible drinking' campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the 'responsible drinking' advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline 'Kids and alcohol don't mix', and whether 'Drink Properly' meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign ('Know when to say when') was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns ('How to drink properly', 'Kids absorb your drinking', 'Friends are waiting') were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a 'socially responsible' industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol.

Published in Drinking Patterns

AIM: The objective of this study is to assess the effects of Heavy Episodic Drinking (HED) on the incidence of alcohol-related injuries among university students in Spain, taking sex into consideration.

METHODS: We carried out an open cohort study among college students in Spain (992 women and 371 men). HED and alcohol-related injuries were measured by question 3rd and 9th of Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test to every participant at the ages of 18, 20, 22, 24 and 27. For data analysis we used a Multilevel Logistic Regression for repeated measures adjusting for alcohol and cannabis use.

RESULTS: The incidence rate of alcohol-related injuries was 0.028year-1 for females and 0.036year-1 for males. The multivariate analysis showed that among females a high frequency of HED and use of cannabis are risk factors for alcohol-related injuries (Odds Ratio [OR]=2.64 and OR=3.68), while being more than 23 is a protective factor (OR=0.34). For males, bivariate analysis also showed HED like risk factor (OR=4.69 and OR=2.51). Finally, the population attributable fraction for HED among females was 37.12%.

CONCLUSIONS: HED leads to an increase of alcohol-related injuries in both sexes and being over 23 years old acts as a protective factor among women. Our results suggest that about one third of alcohol-related injuries among women could be avoided by removing HED.

Published in Drinking Patterns
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The authors have taken reasonable care in ensuring the accuracy of the information herein at the time of publication and are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Read more on our disclaimer.