BACKGROUND: Alcohol and in particular red wine have both immunomodulatory and neuroprotective properties, and may exert an effect on the disease course of multiple sclerosis (MS).

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between alcohol and red wine consumption and MS course.

METHODS: MS patients enrolled in the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (CLIMB) who completed a self-administered questionnaire about their past year drinking habits at a single time point were included in the study. Alcohol and red wine consumption were measured as servings/week. The primary outcome was the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) at the time of the questionnaire. Secondary clinical outcomes were the Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) and number of relapses in the year before the questionnaire. Secondary MRI outcomes included brain parenchymal fraction and T2 hyperintense lesion volume (T2LV). Appropriate regression models were used to test the association of alcohol and red wine intake on clinical and MRI outcomes. All analyses were controlled for sex, age, body mass index, disease phenotype (relapsing vs. progressive), the proportion of time on disease modifying therapy during the previous year, smoking exposure, and disease duration. In the models for the MRI outcomes, analyses were also adjusted for acquisition protocol.

RESULTS: 923 patients (74% females, mean age 47 +/- 11 years, mean disease duration 14 +/- 9 years) were included in the analysis. Compared to abstainers, patients drinking more than 4 drinks per week had a higher likelihood of a lower EDSS score (OR, 0.41; p = 0.0001) and lower MSSS (mean difference, - 1.753; p = 0.002) at the time of the questionnaire. Similarly, patients drinking more than 3 glasses of red wine per week had greater odds of a lower EDSS (OR, 0.49; p = 0.0005) and lower MSSS (mean difference, - 0.705; p = 0.0007) compared to nondrinkers. However, a faster increase in T2LV was observed in patients consuming 1-3 glasses of red wine per week compared to nondrinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher total alcohol and red wine intake were associated with a lower cross-sectional level of neurologic disability in MS patients but increased T2LV accumulation. Further studies should explore a potential cause-effect neuroprotective relationship, as well as the underlying biological mechanisms.

Published in General Health

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the potential effects of alcohol by subtype on reported long-term weight change.

METHODS: This study examined changes in alcohol intake (total, wine, light beer, regular beer, and liquor) and simultaneous changes in reported body weight within 4-year periods from 1986 to 2010 from US men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The study adjusted for age, changes in lifestyle and dietary covariates, and cardiovascular risk factors.

RESULTS: The study included observations of 44,603 four-year periods from 14,971 men. Total alcohol, total beer, regular beer, and liquor intakes, modeled as the increase in weight per increase in drinks per day, were each directly associated with moderate weight gain over the 4-year periods, in pounds: total alcohol: 0.23 (0.10 to 0.35); total beer: 0.29 (0.08 to 0.51); regular beer: 0.61 (0.22 to 1.00); and liquor: 0.28 (0.09 to 0.48). Results for wine and light beer were as follows: wine: 0.16 (-0.04 to 0.36) and light beer: -0.38 (-1.07 to 0.08). Results were strongest for men < 55 years old.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased alcohol consumption was associated with minor reported weight gain at levels unlikely to be clinically meaningful. Beverage-specific differences were not substantial enough to make dietary recommendations for weight loss or maintenance by beverage type. The greatest risk of weight gain was among men who increased consumption to levels well above moderation.

Published in General Health
Monday, 06 November 2017 14:33

Alcohol and Cancer: Mechanisms and Therapies

Several scientific and clinical studies have shown an association between chronic alcohol consumption and the occurrence of cancer in humans. The mechanism for alcohol-induced carcinogenesis has not been fully understood, although plausible events include genotoxic effects of acetaldehyde, cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1)-mediated generation of reactive oxygen species, aberrant metabolism of folate and retinoids, increased estrogen, and genetic polymorphisms. Here, we summarize the impact of alcohol drinking on the risk of cancer development and potential underlying molecular mechanisms. The interactions between alcohol abuse, anti-tumor immune response, tumor growth, and metastasis are complex. However, multiple studies have linked the immunosuppressive effects of alcohol with tumor progression and metastasis. The influence of alcohol on the host immune system and the development of possible effective immunotherapy for cancer in alcoholics are also discussed here. The conclusive biological effects of alcohol on tumor progression and malignancy have not been investigated extensively using an animal model that mimics the human disease. This review provides insights into cancer pathogenesis in alcoholics, alcohol and immune interactions in different cancers, and scope and future of targeted immunotherapeutic modalities in patients with alcohol abuse.

Published in Cancer

It is not clear whether alcohol consumption is associated with lung cancer risk. The relationship is likely confounded by smoking, complicating the interpretation of previous studies. We examined the association of alcohol consumption and lung cancer risk in a large pooled international sample, minimizing potential confounding of tobacco consumption by restricting analyses to never smokers. Our study included 22 case-control and cohort studies with a total of 2548 never-smoking lung cancer patients and 9362 never-smoking controls from North America, Europe and Asia within the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO) and SYNERGY Consortium. Alcohol consumption was categorized into amounts consumed (grams per day) and also modelled as a continuous variable using restricted cubic splines for potential non-linearity. Analyses by histologic sub-type were included. Associations by type of alcohol consumed (wine, beer and liquor) were also investigated. Alcohol consumption was inversely associated with lung cancer risk with evidence most strongly supporting lower risk for light and moderate drinkers relative to non-drinkers (>0-4.9g per day: OR=0.80, 95% CI=0.70-0.90; 5-9.9g per day: OR=0.82, 95% CI=0.69-0.99; 10-19.9g per day: OR=0.79, 95% CI=0.65-0.96). Inverse associations were found for consumption of wine and liquor, but not beer. The results indicate that alcohol consumption is inversely associated with lung cancer risk, particularly among subjects with low to moderate consumption levels, and among wine and liquor drinkers, but not beer drinkers. Although our results should have no relevant bias from the confounding effect of smoking we cannot preclude that confounding by other factors contributed to the observed associations. Confounding in relation to the non-drinker reference category may be of particular importance.

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Published in Cancer
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