BACKGROUND: We examined the associations of alcohol consumption and liver holidays with all-cause mortality and with mortality due to cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, and injury using a large-scale prospective study in Japan.

METHODS: We followed 102,849 Japanese who were aged between 40 and 69 years at baseline for 18.2 years on average, during which 15,203 deaths were reported. Associations between alcohol intake and mortality risk were assessed using a Cox proportional hazards model, with analysis by the number of liver holidays (in which a person abstains from drinking for several days a week).

RESULTS: A J-shaped association was observed between alcohol intake and total mortality in men (nondrinkers: reference; occasional drinkers: hazard ratio [HR] 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68-0.80; 1-149 g/week: HR 0.76; 95% CI, 0.71-0.81; 150-299 g/week: HR 0.75; 95% CI, 0.70-0.80; 300-449 g/week: HR 0.84; 95% CI, 0.78-0.91; 450-599 g/week: HR 0.92; 95% CI, 0.83-1.01; and >/=600 g/week: HR 1.19; 95% CI, 1.07-1.32) and in women (nondrinkers: reference; occasional: HR 0.75; 95% CI, 0.70-0.82; 1-149 g/week: HR 0.80; 95% CI, 0.73-0.88; 150-299 g/week: HR 0.91; 95% CI, 0.74-1.13; 300-449 g/week: HR 1.04; 95% CI, 0.73-1.48; and >/=450 g/week: HR 1.59; 95% CI, 1.07-2.38). In current drinkers, alcohol consumption was associated with a linear, positive increase in mortality risk from all causes, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease in both men and women, but not heart disease in men. Taking of liver holidays was associated with a lower risk of cancer and cerebrovascular disease mortality in men.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol intake showed J-shaped associations with the risk of total mortality and three leading causes of death. However, heavy drinking increases the risk of mortality, which highlights the necessity of drinking in moderation coupled with liver holidays.

Published in General Health

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

Women who drink light-to-moderately during pregnancy have been observed to have lower risk of unfavourable pregnancy outcomes than abstainers. This has been suggested to be a result of bias. In a pooled sample, including 193 747 live-born singletons from nine European cohorts, we examined the associations between light-to-moderate drinking and preterm birth, birth weight, and small-for-gestational age in term born children (term SGA). To address potential sources of bias, we compared the associations from the total sample with a sub-sample restricted to first-time pregnant women who conceived within six months of trying, and examined whether the associations varied across calendar time. In the total sample, drinking up to around six drinks per week as compared to abstaining was associated with lower risk of preterm birth, whereas no significant associations were found for birth weight or term SGA. Drinking six or more drinks per week was associated with lower birth weight and higher risk of term SGA, but no increased risk of preterm birth. The analyses restricted to women without reproductive experience revealed similar results. Before 2000 approximately half of pregnant women drank alcohol. This decreased to 39% in 2000-2004, and 14% in 2005-2011. Before 2000, every additional drink was associated with reduced mean birth weight, whereas in 2005-2011, the mean birth weight increased with increasing intake. The period-specific associations between low-to-moderate drinking and birth weight, which also were observed for term SGA, are indicative of bias. It is impossible to distinguish if the bias is attributable to unmeasured confounding, which change over time or cohort heterogeneity.

Published in Pregnant Women

AIM: To examine whether exposure to increased alcohol availability in utero is associated with later alcohol-related health problems.

METHOD: Register-linked population-based longitudinal study using data from a natural experiment setting, including 363 286 children born 1965-71. An experimental alcohol policy change was piloted in two regions of Sweden in 1967-68, where access to strong beer increased for 16-20 year old. Children exposed in utero to the policy change were compared to children born elsewhere in Sweden (excluding a border area), and to children born before and after the policy change. The outcome was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register using the Swedish index of alcohol-related inpatient care. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox regression analysis.

RESULTS: The results suggest that children conceived by young mothers prior to the policy change but exposed to it in utero had a slightly increased risk of alcohol-related health problems later in life (HR 1.26, 95% CI 0.94-1.68). A tendency towards an inverse association was found among children conceived by older mothers (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.74-1.06).

CONCLUSION: Results obtained from a natural experiment setting found no consistent evidence of long-term health consequences among children exposed in utero to an alcohol policy change. Some evidence however suggested an increased risk of alcohol-related health problems among the exposed children of young mothers.

Published in General Health

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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.