Background: Hydroxytyrosol is a phenolic compound that is present in virgin olive oil (VOO) and wine. Hydroxytyrosol-related foods have been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Objective: We investigated the associations between hydroxytyrosol and its biological metabolite, 3-O-methyl-hydroxytyrosol, also known as homovanillyl alcohol (HVAL), with CVD and total mortality.

Design: We included 1851 men and women with a mean +/- SD age of 66.8 +/- 6 y at high risk of CVD from prospective cohort data. The primary endpoint was a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke, and death from cardiovascular causes; the secondary endpoint was all-cause mortality. Twenty-four-hour urinary hydroxytyrosol and HVAL and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) rs4680 genotypes were measured.

Results: After multivariable adjustment, all biomarkers were associated, as a continuous variable, with lower CVD risk, but only HVAL showed a strong inverse association (HR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.80) for the comparison between quintiles. Only HVAL, as a continuous variable, was associated with total mortality (HR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.70, 0.95). Individuals in the highest quintile of HVAL compared with the lowest had 9.2 (95% CI: 3.5, 20.8) and 6.3 (95% CI: 2.3, 12.1) additional years of life or years free of CVD, respectively, after 65 y. Individuals with the rs4680GG genotype had the highest HVAL concentrations (P = 0.05). There was no association between COMT genotypes and events or interaction between COMT genotypes and HVAL concentrations.

Conclusions: We report, for the first time to our knowledge, an independent association between high urinary HVAL concentrations and a lower risk of CVD and total mortality in elderly individuals. VOO and wine consumption and a high metabolic COMT capacity for methylation are key factors for high HVAL concentrations. The association that stems from our results reinforces the benefits of 2 key components of the Mediterranean diet (wine and VOO). This trial was registered at as ISRCTN35739639.

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Several studies have found that moderate alcohol intake is associated with lower risk of functional limitations in older adults. However, no previous investigation has assessed this association in older adults from Mediterranean countries, who show characteristic drinking patterns.

METHODS: Data were taken from the UAM and the Seniors-ENRICA cohorts in Spain, comprising community-dwelling people aged >/=60 years. At baseline, participants in both cohorts were classified as non-drinkers, ex-drinkers, moderate drinkers and heavy drinkers (the threshold between moderate and heavy intake was >/=40 g/day in men and >/=24 g/day in women). The Seniors-ENRICA cohort allowed assessment of a Mediterranean Drinking Pattern (MDP), defined as moderate alcohol intake, with wine preference (>/=80% of alcohol consumed as wine) and drinking only with meals. The incidence of limitation in mobility, agility, and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) was ascertained in each cohort at the end of a 3.5-year follow-up. Analyses were adjusted for sex, age, education, lifestyle, BMI, chronic conditions, and functional limitations at baseline others than the studied limitation.

RESULTS: Compared with non-drinkers, ex-drinkers showed a higher risk of IADL limitation (pooled adjusted odds ratio [paOR]: 1.63; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04-2.21). By contrast, moderate drinkers had a lower risk of limitations in mobility (paOR: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.63-0.97), agility (paOR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.65-0.99) and IADL (paOR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.39-0.69). Among individuals reporting poor or fair health, the MDP was associated with lower risk of mobility limitation (aOR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.27-0.97).

CONCLUSION: In older adults, moderate alcohol consumption, as well as the MDP in specific subgroups, is associated with lower risk of functional limitation. These results should not serve to promote alcohol intake, because older adults are particularly vulnerable to its harmful effects.

Published in General Health

Flavonoids are bioactive compounds found in foods such as tea, red wine, fruits and vegetables. Higher intakes of specific flavonoids, and flavonoid-rich foods, have been linked to reduced mortality from specific vascular diseases and cancers. However, the importance of flavonoid-rich foods, and flavonoids, in preventing all-cause mortality remains uncertain. As such, we examined the association of intake of flavonoid-rich foods and flavonoids with subsequent mortality among 93 145 young and middle-aged women in the Nurses' Health Study II. During 1 838 946 person-years of follow-up, 1808 participants died. When compared with non-consumers, frequent consumers of red wine, tea, peppers, blueberries and strawberries were at reduced risk of all-cause mortality (P<0.05), with the strongest associations observed for red wine and tea; multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios 0.60 (95 % CI 0.49, 0.74) and 0.73 (95 % CI 0.65, 0.83), respectively. Conversely, frequent grapefruit consumers were at increased risk of all-cause mortality, compared with their non-grapefruit consuming counterparts (P<0.05). When compared with those in the lowest consumption quintile, participants in the highest quintile of total-flavonoid intake were at reduced risk of all-cause mortality in the age-adjusted model; 0.81 (95 % CI 0.71, 0.93). However, this association was attenuated following multivariable adjustment; 0.92 (95 % CI 0.80, 1.06). Similar results were observed for consumption of flavan-3-ols, proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins. Flavonols, flavanones and flavones were not associated with all-cause mortality in any model. Despite null associations at the compound level and select foods, higher consumption of red wine, tea, peppers, blueberries and strawberries, was associated with reduced risk of total and cause-specific mortality. These findings support the rationale for making food-based dietary recommendations.

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related mortality and morbidity are high in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations compared with individuals from advantaged areas. It is unclear if this increased harm reflects differences in alcohol consumption between these socioeconomic groups, reverse causation (ie, downward social selection for high-risk drinkers), or a greater risk of harm in individuals of low socioeconomic status compared with those of higher status after similar consumption. We aimed to investigate whether the harmful effects of alcohol differ by socioeconomic status, accounting for alcohol consumption and other health-related factors.

METHODS: The Scottish Health Surveys are record-linked cross-sectional surveys representative of the adult population of Scotland. We obtained baseline demographics and data for alcohol consumption (units per week and binge drinking) from Scottish Health Surveys done in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. We matched these data to records for deaths, admissions, and prescriptions. The primary outcome was alcohol-attributable admission or death. The relation between alcohol-attributable harm and socioeconomic status was investigated for four measures (education level, social class, household income, and area-based deprivation) using Cox proportional hazards models. The potential for alcohol consumption and other risk factors (including smoking and body-mass index [BMI]) mediating social patterning was explored in separate regression models. Reverse causation was tested by comparing change in area deprivation over time.

FINDINGS: 50 236 participants (21 777 men and 28 459 women) were included in the analytical sample, with 429 986 person-years of follow-up. Low socioeconomic status was associated consistently with strikingly raised alcohol-attributable harms, including after adjustment for weekly consumption, binge drinking, BMI, and smoking. Evidence was noted of effect modification; for example, relative to light drinkers living in advantaged areas, the risk of alcohol-attributable admission or death for excessive drinkers was increased (hazard ratio 6.12, 95% CI 4.45-8.41 in advantaged areas; and 10.22, 7.73-13.53 in deprived areas). We found little support for reverse causation.

INTERPRETATION: Disadvantaged social groups have greater alcohol-attributable harms compared with individuals from advantaged areas for given levels of alcohol consumption, even after accounting for different drinking patterns, obesity, and smoking status at the individual level.

FUNDING: Medical Research Council, NHS Research Scotland, Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office


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