05 June 2020 In General Health

The association between alcohol consumption and venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk has been investigated by various observational studies with inconsistent results. We examined this association by performing a meta-analysis of prospective studies.

A comprehensive literature search was carried out in the PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science from its inception to February 2020. Pooled effect estimates were calculated using a random effect model. Ten prospective studies (14 cohorts) were included in this meta-analysis with a total of 441,128 individuals and 10,221 VTE cases. Overall, the highest consumption of alcohol was not associated with the VTE risk compared with the lowest group [relative risk (RR), 0.96 (95% CI, 0.89-1.04), P = 0.293]. No obvious heterogeneity of RRs was observed across these studies (P = 0.249 for heterogeneity, I (2) = 18.8%). Egger's and Begg's tests showed no evidence of publication bias (Egger, P = 0.443; Begg, P = 0.730).

In the subgroup analysis by sex, a borderline significant association between alcohol consumption and VTE risk was observed in women [RR, 0.91 (95% CI, 0.82-1.00)]. In the dose-response analysis, we observed a linear decrease in VTE risk with increasing alcohol intake (P = 0.634 for nonlinearity). However, the reduced risk was not statistically significant.

In conclusion, the results from this meta-analysis suggest that alcohol intake is not related with the risk of VTE. Further large well-designed cohort studies are warranted to investigate a potential protective role of alcohol against VTE in women.

04 May 2020 In Liver Disease

Background/Aims: Multiple meta-analyses and observational studies have reported that alcohol is a risk factor for liver cancer. However, whether there is a safe level of alcohol consumption remains unclear. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the correlation between low-level alcohol consumption and the risk of liver cancer.

Methods: Nested case-control studies and cohort studies involving the general population published prior to July 2019 were searched. In total, 28 publications (31 cohorts) with 4,899 incident cases and 10,859 liver cancer-related deaths were included. The pooled odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

Results: Compared with those with low levels of alcohol consumption, moderate and heavy drinkers (>/=1 drink/day for females and >/=2 drinks/day for males) had pooled ORs of 1.418 (95% CI, 1.192 to 1.687; p<0.001) for liver cancer incidence and 1.167 (95% CI, 1.056 to 1.290; p=0.003) for liver cancer mortality. The pooled OR for liver disease-related mortality for those with more than low levels of alcohol consumption was 3.220 (95% CI, 2.116 to 4.898; p<0.001) and that for all-cause mortality was 1.166 (95% CI, 1.065 to 1.278; p=0.001). The sensitivity analysis showed that none of the studies had a strong effect on the pooled OR. The Egger test, Begg rank correlation test, and the funnel plot showed no overt indication of publication bias.

Conclusions: Continuous consumption of more than a low-level of alcohol (>/=1 drink/day for females and >/=2 drinks/day for males) is related to a higher risk of liver cancer.

27 March 2020 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: Understanding the long-term health effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption is important for establishing thresholds for minimising the lifetime risk of harm. Recent research has elucidated the dose-response relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular outcomes, showing an increased risk of harm at levels of intake previously thought to be protective. The primary objective of this review was to examine (1) whether there is a dose-response relationship between levels of alcohol consumption and long-term cognitive effects, and (2) what the effects are of different levels of consumption.

METHODS: The review was conducted according to a pre-specified protocol. Eligible studies were those published 2007 onwards that compared cognitive function among people with different levels of alcohol consumption (measured >/= 6 months prior to first follow-up of cognition). Major cognitive impairment was excluded. Searches were limited to MEDLINE, Embase and PsycINFO (January 2007 to April 2018). Screening, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment (ROBINS-I) were piloted by three authors, then completed by a single author and checked by a second. Analyses were undertaken to identify and characterise dose-response relationships between levels of alcohol consumption and cognition. Certainty of evidence was assessed using GRADE.

RESULTS: We included 27 cohort studies (from 4786 citations). Eighteen studies examined the effects of alcohol consumption at different levels (risk of bias 16 serious, 2 critical). Ten studies provided data for dose-response analysis. The pooled dose-response relationship showed a maximum standardised mean difference (SMD) indicating slightly better cognition among women with moderate alcohol consumption compared to current non-drinkers (SMD 0.18, 95%CI 0.02 to 0.34, at 14.4 grams/day; 5 studies, very low certainty evidence), and a trivial difference for men (SMD 0.05, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.10, at 19.4 grams/day; 6 studies, very low certainty evidence).

CONCLUSIONS: Major limitations in the design and reporting of included studies made it impossible to discern if the effects of 'lower' levels of alcohol intake are due to bias. Further review of the evidence is unlikely to resolve this issue without meta-analysis of individual patient data from cohort studies that address biases in the selection of participants and classification of alcohol consumption.

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