BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related mortality and morbidity are high in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations compared with individuals from advantaged areas. It is unclear if this increased harm reflects differences in alcohol consumption between these socioeconomic groups, reverse causation (ie, downward social selection for high-risk drinkers), or a greater risk of harm in individuals of low socioeconomic status compared with those of higher status after similar consumption. We aimed to investigate whether the harmful effects of alcohol differ by socioeconomic status, accounting for alcohol consumption and other health-related factors.

METHODS: The Scottish Health Surveys are record-linked cross-sectional surveys representative of the adult population of Scotland. We obtained baseline demographics and data for alcohol consumption (units per week and binge drinking) from Scottish Health Surveys done in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. We matched these data to records for deaths, admissions, and prescriptions. The primary outcome was alcohol-attributable admission or death. The relation between alcohol-attributable harm and socioeconomic status was investigated for four measures (education level, social class, household income, and area-based deprivation) using Cox proportional hazards models. The potential for alcohol consumption and other risk factors (including smoking and body-mass index [BMI]) mediating social patterning was explored in separate regression models. Reverse causation was tested by comparing change in area deprivation over time.

FINDINGS: 50 236 participants (21 777 men and 28 459 women) were included in the analytical sample, with 429 986 person-years of follow-up. Low socioeconomic status was associated consistently with strikingly raised alcohol-attributable harms, including after adjustment for weekly consumption, binge drinking, BMI, and smoking. Evidence was noted of effect modification; for example, relative to light drinkers living in advantaged areas, the risk of alcohol-attributable admission or death for excessive drinkers was increased (hazard ratio 6.12, 95% CI 4.45-8.41 in advantaged areas; and 10.22, 7.73-13.53 in deprived areas). We found little support for reverse causation.

INTERPRETATION: Disadvantaged social groups have greater alcohol-attributable harms compared with individuals from advantaged areas for given levels of alcohol consumption, even after accounting for different drinking patterns, obesity, and smoking status at the individual level.

FUNDING: Medical Research Council, NHS Research Scotland, Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office

BACKGROUND The relationship between alcohol consumption and metabolic syndrome (MetS) remains controversial. This study investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and MetS components and prevalence.

MATERIAL AND METHODS We analyzed 10 037 subjects (3076 MetS and 6961 non-MetS) in a community-based cohort. MetS was defined according to the ATP III Guidelines. Subjects were divided according to amount of alcohol consumption; non-drinker, very light (0.1-5.0 g/day), light (5.1-15.0 g/day), moderate (15.1-30.0 g/day), and heavy drinker (>30 g/day). Multiple logistic regression models were performed to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs). The analyses were performed in men and women separately. SPSS statistical software was used for analyses.

RESULTS The prevalence of MetS in both males and females was associated with alcohol drinking status (p<0.0001). Amount of alcohol consumption (0.1-5.0 g/day) was significantly associated with lower prevalence of MetS in both genders compared to non-drinkers. Amount of alcohol consumption (>30.0 g/day) did not show a significant association with prevalence of MetS. However, alcohol consumption (>30.0 g/day) showed an association with glucose and HDL cholesterol among the components of MetS.

CONCLUSIONS Our results indicate that alcohol drinking (0.1-5.0 g/day) contributed to decrease prevalence of MetS and components, including triglyceride and HDL cholesterol.

Published in Diabetes

Aims: Epidemiological evidence indicates a protective effect of light to moderate alcohol consumption compared to non-drinking and heavy drinking. Although several mechanisms have been suggested, the effect of alcohol on atherosclerotic changes in vessel walls is unclear. Therefore, we explored the relationship between alcohol consumption and common carotid intima media thickness, a marker of early atherosclerosis in the general population.

Methods: Individual participant data from eight cohorts, involving 37,494 individuals from the USE-IMT collaboration were used. Multilevel age and sex adjusted linear regression models were applied to estimate mean differences in common carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) with alcohol consumption.

Results: The mean age was 57.9 years (SD 8.6) and the mean CIMT was 0.75 mm (SD 0.177). About, 40.5% reported no alcohol consumed, and among those who drank, mean consumption was 13.3 g per day (SD 16.4). Those consuming no alcohol or a very small amount (10 g per day, after adjusting for a range of confounding factors. Conclusion: In this large CIMT consortium, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of alcohol on CIMT.

Published in Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Controversy exists on the association between alcohol consumption and risk of heart failure (HF). We carried out a meta-analysis to summarize available prospective data on alcohol consumption and HF.

METHODS: We searched PubMed for relevant studies published until January 1, 2017. Relative risk (RR) estimates from individual studies were pooled in a random-effects meta-analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 13 prospective studies, with 13,738 HF cases and 355,804 participants, were included in the meta-analysis. Light alcohol drinking (0.1-7 drinks/week) was inversely associated with risk of HF (RR, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.81-0.90). There was no statistically significant association between moderate (7.1-14 drinks/week), high (14.1-28 drinks/week), or heavy (>28 drinks/week) alcohol consumption and HF risk. Former drinking was associated with an increased risk of HF compared with never or occasional drinking (RR, 1.22; 95% confidence interval, 1.11-1.33).

CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis found that light alcohol drinking was associated with a lower risk of HF. Former drinking was associated with a higher risk of HF.

Published in Cardiovascular System
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