BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Several studies have reported a significant inverse association of light to moderate alcohol consumption with coronary heart disease (CHD). However, studies assessing the relationship between alcohol consumption and atherosclerosis have reported inconsistent results. The current study was conducted to determine the relationship between alcohol consumption and aortic calcification.

METHODS: We addressed the research question using data from the population-based ERA-JUMP Study, comprising of 1006 healthy men aged 40-49 years, without clinical cardiovascular diseases, from four race/ethnicities: 301 Whites, 103 African American, 292 Japanese American, and 310 Japanese in Japan. Aortic calcification was assessed by electron-beam computed tomography and quantified using the Agatston method. Alcohol consumption was categorized into four groups: 0 (non-drinkers), 1 to 3 drinks per day (heavy drinkers) (1 drink = 12.5 g of ethanol). Tobit conditional regression and ordinal logistic regression were used to investigate the association of alcohol consumption with aortic calcification after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and potential confounders.

RESULTS: The study participants consisted of 25.6% nondrinkers, 35.3% light drinkers, 23.5% moderate drinkers, and 15.6% heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers [Tobit ratio (95% CI) = 2.34 (1.10, 4.97); odds ratio (95% CI) = 1.67 (1.11, 2.52)] had significantly higher expected aortic calcification score compared to nondrinkers, after adjusting for socio-demographic and confounding variables. There was no significant interaction between alcohol consumption and race/ethnicity on aortic calcification.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that heavy alcohol consumption may be an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Published in Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have revealed inconsistent findings regarding the association of light to moderate alcohol consumption with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the association between alcohol consumption and risk of mortality from all causes, cancer, and CVD in U.S. adults. METHODS: Data were obtained by linking 13 waves of the National Health Interview Surveys (1997 to 2009) to the National Death Index records through December 31, 2011. A total of 333,247 participants >/=18 years of age were included. Self-reported alcohol consumption patterns were categorized into 6 groups: lifetime abstainers; lifetime infrequent drinkers; former drinkers; and current light, moderate, or heavy drinkers. Secondary exposure included participants' binge-drinking status. The main outcome was all-cause, cancer, or CVD mortality.

RESULTS: After a median follow-up of 8.2 years (2.7 million person-years), 34,754 participants died of all causes (including 8,947 CVD deaths and 8,427 cancer deaths). Compared with lifetime abstainers, those who were light or moderate alcohol consumers were at a reduced risk of mortality for all causes (light-hazard ratio [HR]: 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.76 to 0.82; moderate-HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.74 to 0.82) and CVD (light-HR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.69 to 0.80; moderate-HR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.64 to 0.78), respectively. In contrast, there was a significantly increased risk of mortality for all causes (HR: 1.11; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.19) and cancer (HR: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.42) in adults with heavy alcohol consumption. Binge drinking >/=1 d/week was also associated with an increased risk of mortality for all causes (HR: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.23) and cancer (HR: 1.22; 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.41).

CONCLUSIONS: Light and moderate alcohol intake might have a protective effect on all-cause and CVD-specific mortality in U.S. adults. Heavy or binge drinking was associated with increased risk of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality.

Published in General Health

AIMS: The aim of this study was to clarify the relationship between drinking and metabolically healthy status in men with normal weight, overweight and obesity.

METHODS: The subjects were Japanese men aged from 35 to 60 years (n=31781) and they were divided by daily amount of drinking (g ethanol) into light (< 22), moderate (>/=22 and <44), heavy (>/=44 and <66) and very heavy (>/=66) drinkers. Metabolically healthy subjects were defined as those without hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes.

RESULTS: The percentage of metabolically healthy subjects was much lower in the overweight (BMI>/=25 and <30) and obese (BMI>/=30) groups than in the normal weight group (BMI>/=18.5 and <25) and was much lower in the obese group than in the overweight group. In each of the normal weight and overweight groups, percentages of metabolically healthy subjects were significantly lower in heavy and very heavy drinkers than in nondrinkers and were marginally significantly higher in light drinkers than in nondrinkers. The above associations between drinking and metabolically healthy status were confirmed by logistic regression analysis. In the obese group, the percentage of metabolically healthy subjects was significantly lower in regular drinkers (including all drinker categories) than in nondrinkers, and metabolically healthy subjects were rare (0.56%) among regular drinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Regardless of absence and presence of overweight or obesity, excessive alcohol drinking is inversely associated with metabolically healthy status and should be avoided for prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Published in Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Racial disparities in the incidence of major cancers may be attributed to differences in the prevalence of established, modifiable risk factors such as obesity, smoking, physical activity and diet.

METHODS: Data from a prospective cohort of 566,398 adults aged 50-71 years, 19,677 African-American and 450,623 Whites, was analyzed. Baseline data on cancer-related risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, physical activity and dietary patterns were used to create an individual adherence score. Differences in adherence by race, gender and geographic region were assessed using descriptive statistics, and Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine the association between adherence and cancer incidence.

RESULTS: Only 1.5% of study participants were adherent to all five cancer-related risk factor guidelines, with marked race-, gender- and regional differences in adherence overall. Compared with participants who were fully adherent to all five cancer risk factor criteria, those adherent to one or less had a 76% increased risk of any cancer incidence (HR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.70 - 1.82), 38% increased risk of breast cancer (HR: 1.38, 95% CI: 1.25 - 1.52), and doubled the risk of colorectal cancer (HR: 2.06, 95% CI: 1.84 - 2.29). However, risk of prostate cancer was lower among participants adherent to one or less compared with those who were fully adherent (HR: 0.79, 95% CI: 0.75 - 0.85). The proportion of cancer incident cases attributable to low adherence was higher among African-Americans compared with Whites for all cancers (21% vs. 19%), and highest for colorectal cancer (25%) regardless of race.

CONCLUSION: Racial differences in the proportion of cancer incidence attributable to low adherence suggests unique opportunities for targeted cancer prevention strategies that may help eliminate racial disparities in cancer burden among older US adults.

Published in Cancer
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