25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

ISSUES: Event-level alcohol research can inform prevention efforts by determining whether drinking contexts-such as people or places-are associated with harmful outcomes. This review synthesises evidence on associations between characteristics of adults' drinking occasions and acute alcohol-related harm.

APPROACH: We systematically searched Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid PsycInfo and the Web of Science Social Sciences Citation Index. Eligible papers used quantitative designs and event-level data collection methods. They linked one or more drinking contexts to acute alcohol-related harm. Following extraction of study characteristics, methods and findings, we assessed study quality and narratively synthesised the findings. PROSPERO ID: CRD42018119701.

KEY FINDINGS: Searches identified 95 eligible papers, 65 (68%) of which study young adults and 62 (65%) of which are set in the United States, which limits generalisability to other populations. These papers studied a range of harms from assault to drink driving. Study quality is good overall although measures often lack validation. We found substantial evidence for direct effects of drinking context on harms. All of the contextual characteristics types studied (e.g. people, place, timing, psychological states, drink type) were consistently associated with harms. Certain contexts were frequently studied and associated with harms, in particular, weekend drinking, drinking in licensed premises and concurrent illicit drug use.

IMPLICATIONS: The findings of our review indicate target drinking contexts for prevention efforts that are consistently associated with increased acute alcohol-related harm. CONCLUSION: A large range of contextual characteristics of drinking occasions are directly associated with acute alcohol-related harm, over and above levels of consumption.

04 May 2020 In Liver Disease

Background/Aims: Multiple meta-analyses and observational studies have reported that alcohol is a risk factor for liver cancer. However, whether there is a safe level of alcohol consumption remains unclear. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the correlation between low-level alcohol consumption and the risk of liver cancer.

Methods: Nested case-control studies and cohort studies involving the general population published prior to July 2019 were searched. In total, 28 publications (31 cohorts) with 4,899 incident cases and 10,859 liver cancer-related deaths were included. The pooled odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

Results: Compared with those with low levels of alcohol consumption, moderate and heavy drinkers (>/=1 drink/day for females and >/=2 drinks/day for males) had pooled ORs of 1.418 (95% CI, 1.192 to 1.687; p<0.001) for liver cancer incidence and 1.167 (95% CI, 1.056 to 1.290; p=0.003) for liver cancer mortality. The pooled OR for liver disease-related mortality for those with more than low levels of alcohol consumption was 3.220 (95% CI, 2.116 to 4.898; p<0.001) and that for all-cause mortality was 1.166 (95% CI, 1.065 to 1.278; p=0.001). The sensitivity analysis showed that none of the studies had a strong effect on the pooled OR. The Egger test, Begg rank correlation test, and the funnel plot showed no overt indication of publication bias.

Conclusions: Continuous consumption of more than a low-level of alcohol (>/=1 drink/day for females and >/=2 drinks/day for males) is related to a higher risk of liver cancer.

27 March 2020 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: Understanding the long-term health effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption is important for establishing thresholds for minimising the lifetime risk of harm. Recent research has elucidated the dose-response relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular outcomes, showing an increased risk of harm at levels of intake previously thought to be protective. The primary objective of this review was to examine (1) whether there is a dose-response relationship between levels of alcohol consumption and long-term cognitive effects, and (2) what the effects are of different levels of consumption.

METHODS: The review was conducted according to a pre-specified protocol. Eligible studies were those published 2007 onwards that compared cognitive function among people with different levels of alcohol consumption (measured >/= 6 months prior to first follow-up of cognition). Major cognitive impairment was excluded. Searches were limited to MEDLINE, Embase and PsycINFO (January 2007 to April 2018). Screening, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment (ROBINS-I) were piloted by three authors, then completed by a single author and checked by a second. Analyses were undertaken to identify and characterise dose-response relationships between levels of alcohol consumption and cognition. Certainty of evidence was assessed using GRADE.

RESULTS: We included 27 cohort studies (from 4786 citations). Eighteen studies examined the effects of alcohol consumption at different levels (risk of bias 16 serious, 2 critical). Ten studies provided data for dose-response analysis. The pooled dose-response relationship showed a maximum standardised mean difference (SMD) indicating slightly better cognition among women with moderate alcohol consumption compared to current non-drinkers (SMD 0.18, 95%CI 0.02 to 0.34, at 14.4 grams/day; 5 studies, very low certainty evidence), and a trivial difference for men (SMD 0.05, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.10, at 19.4 grams/day; 6 studies, very low certainty evidence).

CONCLUSIONS: Major limitations in the design and reporting of included studies made it impossible to discern if the effects of 'lower' levels of alcohol intake are due to bias. Further review of the evidence is unlikely to resolve this issue without meta-analysis of individual patient data from cohort studies that address biases in the selection of participants and classification of alcohol consumption.

24 June 2019 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use has been identified as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline. However, some patterns of drinking have been associated with beneficial effects.

METHODS AND RESULTS: To clarify the relationship between alcohol use and dementia, we conducted a scoping review based on a systematic search of systematic reviews published from January 2000 to October 2017 by using Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO. Overall, 28 systematic reviews were identified: 20 on the associations between the level of alcohol use and the incidence of cognitive impairment/dementia, six on the associations between dimensions of alcohol use and specific brain functions, and two on induced dementias. Although causality could not be established, light to moderate alcohol use in middle to late adulthood was associated with a decreased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Heavy alcohol use was associated with changes in brain structures, cognitive impairments, and an increased risk of all types of dementia.

CONCLUSION: Reducing heavy alcohol use may be an effective dementia prevention strategy.

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