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

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: This study aims to estimate the prevalence of long-term risky drinking within the Australian population and the proportion of standard drinks that is consumed outside of the long-term risk (LTR) guidelines of two Australian standard drinks (ASD) per day.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Recruited by phone, 2020 Australian adults with an oversampling of risky drinkers were asked detailed questions about how much alcohol they consumed at a range of locations in 2013. Descriptive statistical analyses of data weighted to be representative of the Australian adult population were undertaken, with a focus on the ASD consumed above the LTR guidelines.

RESULTS: Although 28% of respondents drink at levels above the LTR drinking guidelines, 56% of all ASD consumed are above the two per day recommended to reduce LTR. Three-quarters of cask wine and liqueurs were consumed outside of the LTR guidelines, as were 58% of all ASD consumed in the home, similar to the proportion of ASD consumed above the guidelines in pubs (55%).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: While the minority of Australians drink to LTR levels, the majority of alcohol is consumed by long-term risky drinkers. More research and policy focus on the patterns of alcohol consumption that lead to long-term risk, particularly outside of licensed premises, is required.

[Callinan S, Livingston M, Room R, Dietze PM. How much alcohol is consumed outside of the lifetime risk guidelines in Australia?. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]

Published in Drinking Patterns

Background: The aim was to compare alcohol drinking patterns in economically active people aged 50-64 years before the last economic crisis (2006) and during the crisis (2013). Cross-sectional study with data from 25 479 economically active people aged 50-64 years resident in 11 European countries who participated in wave 2 or wave 5 of the SHARE project (2006 and 2013). The outcome variables were hazardous drinking, abstention in previous 3 months and the weekly average number of drinks per drinker. The prevalence ratios of hazardous drinking and abstention, comparing the prevalence in 2013 vs. 2006, were estimated with Poisson regression models with robust variance, and the changes in the number of drinks per week with Poisson regression models. The prevalence of hazardous drinking decreased among both men (PR = 0.75; 95%CI = 0.63-0.92) and women (PR = 0.91; 95%CI = 0.72-1.15), although the latter decrease was smaller and not statistically significant. The proportion of abstainers increased among both men (PR = 1.11; 95%CI = 0.99-1.29) and women (PR = 1.18; 95%CI = 1.07-1.30), although the former increase was smaller and not statistically significant. The weekly average number of drinks per drinker decreased in men and women. The decreases in consumption were larger in Italy and Spain. From 2006 to 2013, the amount of alcohol consumed by late working age drinkers decreased in Europe, with more pronounced declines in the countries hardest hit by the economic crisis.

Published in Drinking Patterns

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
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