OBJECTIVE: Research on late-middle-aged and older adults has focused primarily on average level of alcohol consumption, overlooking variability in underlying drinking patterns. The purpose of the present study was to examine the independent contributions of an episodic heavy pattern of drinking versus a high average level of drinking as prospective predictors of drinking problems.

METHOD: The sample comprised 1,107 adults ages 55-65 years at baseline. Alcohol consumption was assessed at baseline, and drinking problems were indexed across 20 years. We used prospective negative binomial regression analyses controlling for baseline drinking problems, as well as for demographic and health factors, to predict the number of drinking problems at each of four follow-up waves (1, 4, 10, and 20 years).

RESULTS: Across waves where the effects were significant, a high average level of drinking (coefficients of 1.56, 95% CI [1.24, 1.95]; 1.48, 95% CI [1.11, 1.98]; and 1.85, 95% CI [1.23, 2.79] at 1, 10, and 20 years) and an episodic heavy pattern of drinking (coefficients of 1.61, 95% CI [1.30, 1.99]; 1.61, 95% CI [1.28, 2.03]; and 1.43, 95% CI [1.08, 1.90] at 1, 4, and 10 years) each independently increased the number of drinking problems by more than 50%.

CONCLUSIONS: Information based only on average consumption underestimates the risk of drinking problems among older adults. Both a high average level of drinking and an episodic heavy pattern of drinking pose prospective risks of later drinking problems among older adults.

Published in Drinking Patterns

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: The practice and adverse consequences of pre-drinking have been documented within a dozen countries, but little remains known about the differences between countries or the country-specific determinants of pre-drinking. This study aims to estimate the percentage of pre-drinkers in different countries and the impact of country-level indicators such as the price of alcohol and the prevalence of drinkers and of heavy drinkers.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Using data from the Global Drug Survey, the percentage of pre-drinkers was estimated for 25 countries from 65 126 respondents. Bivariate and multivariate multilevel models were used to model the impact of the on-premise/off-premise drinks price ratio, the prevalence of current drinkers and of heavy drinkers on the percentage of pre-drinkers.

RESULTS: The estimated percentage of pre-drinkers per country ranged from 17.7% (Greece) to 85.4% (Ireland). Across all countries, the higher the prevalence of current drinkers, the higher the percentage of pre-drinkers. In addition, an interaction between the prevalence of heavy drinkers and the price ratio was found. In countries with a low price ratio, the higher the prevalence of heavy drinkers, the higher the percentage of pre-drinkers. The opposite effect was observed in countries with high price ratios.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Pre-drinking appears to be a worldwide phenomenon. The significant effects of all three indicators demonstrate the role of country-level determinants underpinning the prevalence of pre-drinking across countries. Policy makers could use the reported findings for initiating campaigns to reduce pre-drinking behaviour.

[Labhart F, Ferris J, Winstock A, Kuntsche E. The country-level effects of drinking, heavy drinking and drink prices on pre-drinking: An international comparison of 25 countries. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]

Published in Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVE: The present study is a systematic review of the literature examining the relationship between alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) and injury. The study provides a summary and critical analysis of the current literature.

METHOD: The review was conducted using PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews. Studies included in the review were those that quantified the relationship between AmED use and injury risk relative to alcohol only. Records were considered along the following theme areas: controlled for drinking behaviors, controlled for impulsivity or risk-taking propensity, examined sex differences, and self-reported injury outcomes for (a) AmED versus alcohol consumers and (b) AmED versus alcohol sessions.

RESULTS: The results support the association between AmED and increased risk of injury; however, substantial variability in harm outcomes and methodology makes it difficult to determine the extent of this risk.

CONCLUSIONS: There is significant need for further examination of the role of AmED use in the risk of injury. A better understanding of the relationship between AmED use and injury and of the potential underlying mechanisms is crucial for informing effective preventive intervention strategies. This review can be used to inform the public and health practitioners of the risks associated with AmED use. Further, translating this knowledge to policy makers could inform regulations on the availability of AmED, with the goal of reducing injury-related outcomes.

Published in Drinking Patterns

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Previous research suggests that low-moderate alcohol consumption may have cardioprotective effects, while heavy or binge-pattern drinking is harmful. New evidence and research methodology may inform safe thresholds of alcohol use. This review examines recent evidence regarding alcohol's effect on cardiovascular disease, with a special consideration of pattern, drink type, and total quantity.

RECENT FINDINGS: New epidemiologic research confirms the potential harmful cardiovascular effects of heavy episodic alcohol use and does not support the previous observation that low-moderate alcohol use protects against stroke. Alcohol consumption also appears to have a continuous positive relationship with the risk of atrial fibrillation. In addition, Mendelian randomization analyses suggest that alcohol may have a direct causal role in adverse cardiovascular effects. Recent studies have confirmed that heavy alcohol use (>14 drinks per week in women and >21 drinks per week in men) and heavy episodic drinking are associated with an increased risk of mortality. New research raises concerns that even low-moderate alcohol use may not offer cardio- or cerebrovascular protection. Drinking >/=3 drinks per day on a regular basis or >/=5 drinks in any one episode should be discouraged.

Published in Cardiovascular System
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