BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Studies that report the relationship between alcohol consumption and disease risk have predominantly operationalized drinking according to a single baseline measure. The resulting assumption of longitudinal stability may be simplistic and complicate interpretation of risk estimates. This study aims to describe changes to the volume of consumption during the adult life-course according to baseline categories of drinking. DESIGN: A prospective observational study.

SETTING: United Kingdom.

PARTICIPANTS: A cohort of British civil servants totalling 6838 men and 3372 women aged 34-55 years at baseline, followed for a mean 19.1 (standard deviation = 9.5) years.

MEASUREMENTS: The volume of weekly alcohol consumption was estimated from data concerning the frequency and number of drinks consumed. Baseline categories were defined: non-current drinkers, infrequent drinkers, 0.1-50.0 g/week, 50.1-100.0 g/week, 100.1-150.0 g/week, 150.1-250.0 g/week and >250.0 g/week. For women, the highest category was defined as > 100.0 g/week. Baseline frequency was derived as 'daily or almost daily' and 'not daily or almost daily'. Trajectories were estimated within baseline categories using growth curve models.

FINDINGS: Trajectories differed between men and women, but were relatively stable within light-to-moderate categories of baseline consumption. Drinking was least stable within the highest categories of baseline consumption (men: > 250.0 g/week; women: > 100.0 g/week), declining by 47.0 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 40.7, 53.2] and 16.8 g/week (95% CI = 12.6, 21.0), respectively, per 10-year increase in age. These declines were not a consequence of sudden transitions to complete abstention. Rates of decline appear greatest in older age, with trajectories converging toward moderate volumes.

CONCLUSION: Among UK civil servants, consumption within baseline drinking categories is generally stable during the life-course, except among heavier baseline drinkers, for whom intakes decline with increasing age. This shift does not appear to be driven by transitions to non-drinking. Cohorts of older people may be at particular risk of misclassifying former heavy drinkers as moderate consumers of alcohol.

Published in General Health

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

BACKGROUND: Several studies have investigated the predictors of alcohol consumption behavior among adolescents and young adults. However, the body of evidence about the relationship between in particular psychological factors and alcohol consumption among individuals in the second half of life is still limited. Hence, we aimed at identifying factors associated with alcohol consumption among individuals aged 40 and above, especially focusing on psychological correlates.

METHODS: Data were derived from a population-based sample of community-dwelling individuals aged 40 to 95 years (n = 7820) in Germany. Alcohol consumption was rated as 'never' (never drinkers), 'rarer than once a month', 'one to three times a month', 'once a week', 'several times a week' (occasional drinkers), and 'daily' (daily drinkers). Socio-economic factors, the illness level and physical activity were considered as possible determinants of alcohol consumption. In addition, positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, optimism, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-regulation were included as psychological factors. Multinomial regressions were used to identify factors associated with drinking behavior.

RESULTS: 12.0% of the individuals were daily drinkers, 76.5% were occasional drinkers, and 11.5% of the individuals never drank alcohol. After adjusting for various potential confounders, multinomial logistic regressions revealed that, compared with never drinking, occasional and daily drinking were positively associated with a decreased loneliness, a higher life satisfaction, a higher positive affect, a higher optimism, a higher self-efficacy (occasional drinkers), a higher self-esteem, and less perceived stress. In addition, occasional and daily drinking were positively associated with less physical illnesses, male gender, and income as compared with never drinking.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study extends the existing literature on alcohol consumption behavior by new insights of correlates of drinking behavior among individuals in the second half of life. Since interventions are available to address this risk factor, this might help to identify individuals with increased alcohol consumption.

Published in Drinking Patterns

The pattern of alcohol consumption in the form of binge drinking (BD) or heavy episodic drinking has increased notably worldwide in recent years, especially among adolescent and young people, being currently recognized as a global health problem. Although only a minority of binge drinkers will develop a substance use disorder, BD may have negative personal and social consequences in the short and medium term. The objective of this article is to review the findings on personality traits related to binge drinkers and to emphasize the aspects that should be examined in order to make progress in this area. The main characteristics of personality related to the practice of BD, regardless of the theoretical model used, are high Impulsivity and high Sensation seeking, as well as Anxiety sensitivity, Neuroticism (Hopelessness), Extraversion and low Conscientiousness. The data obtained may have theoretical implications to elucidate the endophenotype of BD, but they are especially useful for their preventive applications. Integration into prevention programs of emotional self-control skills, decision-making, social skills, and strategies to manage negative emotions will minimize the risk factors or consequences of BD associated with personality and will improve their effectiveness. In the future, it is necessary to harmonize a common measurement instrument for the assessment of personality, develop longitudinal studies with large samples that also integrate biological and neurocognitive measurements, and determine the reciprocal relationship between personality and BD together with its modulating variables, as well as the possible cultural differences.

Published in Drinking Patterns

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The authors have taken reasonable care in ensuring the accuracy of the information herein at the time of publication and are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Read more on our disclaimer.