Women who drink light-to-moderately during pregnancy have been observed to have lower risk of unfavourable pregnancy outcomes than abstainers. This has been suggested to be a result of bias. In a pooled sample, including 193 747 live-born singletons from nine European cohorts, we examined the associations between light-to-moderate drinking and preterm birth, birth weight, and small-for-gestational age in term born children (term SGA). To address potential sources of bias, we compared the associations from the total sample with a sub-sample restricted to first-time pregnant women who conceived within six months of trying, and examined whether the associations varied across calendar time. In the total sample, drinking up to around six drinks per week as compared to abstaining was associated with lower risk of preterm birth, whereas no significant associations were found for birth weight or term SGA. Drinking six or more drinks per week was associated with lower birth weight and higher risk of term SGA, but no increased risk of preterm birth. The analyses restricted to women without reproductive experience revealed similar results. Before 2000 approximately half of pregnant women drank alcohol. This decreased to 39% in 2000-2004, and 14% in 2005-2011. Before 2000, every additional drink was associated with reduced mean birth weight, whereas in 2005-2011, the mean birth weight increased with increasing intake. The period-specific associations between low-to-moderate drinking and birth weight, which also were observed for term SGA, are indicative of bias. It is impossible to distinguish if the bias is attributable to unmeasured confounding, which change over time or cohort heterogeneity.

Published in Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Hazardous and harmful alcohol use and high blood pressure are central risk factors related to premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality worldwide. A reduction in the prevalence of both risk factors has been suggested as a route to reach the global NCD targets. This study aims to highlight that screening and interventions for hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use in primary healthcare can contribute substantially to achieving the NCD targets.

METHODS: A consensus conference based on systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical guidelines, experimental studies, and statistical modelling which had been presented and discussed in five preparatory meetings, was undertaken. Specifically, we modelled changes in blood pressure distributions and potential lives saved for the five largest European countries if screening and appropriate intervention rates in primary healthcare settings were increased. Recommendations to handle alcohol-induced hypertension in primary healthcare settings were derived at the conference, and their degree of evidence was graded.

RESULTS: Screening and appropriate interventions for hazardous alcohol use and use disorders could lower blood pressure levels, but there is a lack in implementing these measures in European primary healthcare. Recommendations included (1) an increase in screening for hypertension (evidence grade: high), (2) an increase in screening and brief advice on hazardous and harmful drinking for people with newly detected hypertension by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (evidence grade: high), (3) the conduct of clinical management of less severe alcohol use disorders for incident people with hypertension in primary healthcare (evidence grade: moderate), and (4) screening for alcohol use in hypertension that is not well controlled (evidence grade: moderate). The first three measures were estimated to result in a decreased hypertension prevalence and hundreds of saved lives annually in the examined countries.

CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of the outlined recommendations could contribute to reducing the burden associated with hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use and thus to achievement of the NCD targets. Implementation should be conducted in controlled settings with evaluation, including, but not limited to, economic evaluation.

Published in General Health

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the hypothesis that alcohol consumption is associated with onset of atrial fibrillation (AF) and/or heart failure (HF).

BACKGROUND: The connection between ethanol intake and AF or HF remains controversial.

METHODS: The study population was 22,824 AF- or HF-free subjects (48% men, age >/=35 years) randomly recruited from the general population included in the Moli-sani study, for whom complete data on HF, AF, and alcohol consumption were available. The cohort was followed up to December 31, 2015, for a median of 8.2 years (183,912 person-years). Incident cases were identified through linkage to the Molise regional archive of hospital discharges. Hazard ratios were calculated using Cox proportional hazard models and cubic spline regression.

RESULTS: A total of 943 incident cases of HF and 554 of AF were identified. In comparison with never drinkers, both former and occasional drinkers showed comparable risk for developing HF. Drinking alcohol in the range of 1 to 4 drinks/day was associated with a lower risk for HF, with a 22% maximum risk reduction at 20 g/day, independent of common confounders. In contrast, no association of alcohol consumption with onset of AF was observed. Very similar results were obtained after restriction of the analyses to regular or only wine drinkers or according to sex, age, social status, or adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

CONCLUSIONS: Consumption of alcohol in moderation was associated with a lower incidence of HF but not with development of AF.

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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