BACKGROUND: Alcohol and in particular red wine have both immunomodulatory and neuroprotective properties, and may exert an effect on the disease course of multiple sclerosis (MS).

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between alcohol and red wine consumption and MS course.

METHODS: MS patients enrolled in the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (CLIMB) who completed a self-administered questionnaire about their past year drinking habits at a single time point were included in the study. Alcohol and red wine consumption were measured as servings/week. The primary outcome was the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) at the time of the questionnaire. Secondary clinical outcomes were the Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) and number of relapses in the year before the questionnaire. Secondary MRI outcomes included brain parenchymal fraction and T2 hyperintense lesion volume (T2LV). Appropriate regression models were used to test the association of alcohol and red wine intake on clinical and MRI outcomes. All analyses were controlled for sex, age, body mass index, disease phenotype (relapsing vs. progressive), the proportion of time on disease modifying therapy during the previous year, smoking exposure, and disease duration. In the models for the MRI outcomes, analyses were also adjusted for acquisition protocol.

RESULTS: 923 patients (74% females, mean age 47 +/- 11 years, mean disease duration 14 +/- 9 years) were included in the analysis. Compared to abstainers, patients drinking more than 4 drinks per week had a higher likelihood of a lower EDSS score (OR, 0.41; p = 0.0001) and lower MSSS (mean difference, - 1.753; p = 0.002) at the time of the questionnaire. Similarly, patients drinking more than 3 glasses of red wine per week had greater odds of a lower EDSS (OR, 0.49; p = 0.0005) and lower MSSS (mean difference, - 0.705; p = 0.0007) compared to nondrinkers. However, a faster increase in T2LV was observed in patients consuming 1-3 glasses of red wine per week compared to nondrinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher total alcohol and red wine intake were associated with a lower cross-sectional level of neurologic disability in MS patients but increased T2LV accumulation. Further studies should explore a potential cause-effect neuroprotective relationship, as well as the underlying biological mechanisms.

Published in General Health

INTRODUCTION: The benefits of alcohol consumption for cardiovascular and metabolic health may have been overstated due to inappropriate comparisons with abstainers and inadequate control for confounding factors including physical activity and mental health. We examined alcohol consumption and cardio-metabolic health in a cohort of young Australian adults overcoming these limitations.

METHODS: Cross-sectional data of a cohort of 2200 participants (age range 25-36 years) from the 2004-06 Childhood Determinants of Adult Health were used. Alcohol consumption was assessed from questionnaire and cardio-metabolic risk factors were measured in clinics. Linear and log binomial regression were used to examine total alcohol consumption (categories: none 0 g/day; light >0-10 g/day [reference]; moderate >10-20 g/day; heavy >20-30 g/day; very heavy >30 g/day) against dichotomous metabolic syndrome and its components: waist circumference, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose. Covariates included socio-demographics, smoking, diet, physical activity, fitness, depression and anxiety.

RESULTS: Of the 2220 participants (48% males, mean (standard deviation) age 29.5 (2.5) years), most were classified in the 'light drinking' group (54.2%), less were in the 'non-drinking' (13.2%), 'heavy' (5.2%) or 'very heavy' (5.5%) drinking groups. Only moderate drinking was associated with a significantly lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome (prevalence ratio = 0.64, p < 0.05) compared with light drinking. Higher levels of alcohol consumption were associated with higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (beta = 0.05, ptrend < 0.001). Very heavy compared to light drinkers had higher systolic (beta = 3.01 mm Hg, p < 0.01) and diastolic (beta = 2.07 mm Hg, p < 0.05) blood pressure.

CONCLUSION: Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of MetS, and more favourable levels of lipids but not glucose or blood pressure even when compared to light consumption and with account for a range of confounding factors.

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

BACKGROUND: Whether cigarette smoking and moderate drinking are associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)has not been fully described. This study investigated the separate and joint effects of smoking and moderate drinking on Chinese men with NAFLD.

METHODS: Across-sectional assay from DFTJ Cohort study was performed with a size of 9432 elderly Chinese men excluding excessive alcohol consumption (<210g/week). Fatty liver was diagnosed by standardized ultrasonographic inspection. The odds ratio (OR) of alcohol consumption and smoking for the prevalence of NAFLD were analyzed using multiple logistic regression with multiple adjustments.

RESULTS: The prevalence of NAFLD in current smokers (pack-year>/=40) and drinkers (80~210g/week or drinking duration>/=35years) was significantly higher than that in non-smokers and non-drinkers, respectively. The combination of current smoking (pack-year>/=40) and drinking (80~210g/week) was associated with the highest risk of NAFLD (OR 1.85; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28-2.68;P<0.01). The similar combined effect was found in participants with pack-year>/=40 and drinking duration>/=35 years (OR 1.72; 95% CI 1.26-2.34;P<0.01). Moreover, an interaction was observed between current smoking and moderate drinking in NAFLD.

CONCLUSIONS: In elderly Chinese men, cigarette smoking and moderate alcohol consumption exerts an evident joint effect and interaction on the prevalence of NAFLD, although both are significantly and independently associated with NAFLD prevalence. Such findings highlight particular significance of avoidance of cigarette and alcohol on NAFLD prevention.

Published in Liver Disease
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