Drinking Patterns

Drinking Patterns (82)

BACKGROUND: Based on findings of increasing alcohol consumption in older adults, it is important to clarify the health consequences. Using data from the Tromsø study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between different levels of alcohol consumption in old adulthood and self-rated health trajectories and all-cause mortality. METHODS: This is an epidemiological study utilizing repeated measures from the Tromsø study cohort. It allows follow-up of participants from 1994 to 2020.

A total of 24,590 observations of alcohol consumption were made in older adults aged 60-99 (53% women). PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-rated health (SRH) and all-cause mortality. SRH was reported when attending the Tromsø study. Time of death was retrieved from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry. The follow-up time extended from the age of study entry to the age of death or end of follow-up on November 25, 2020. PREDICTOR: Average weekly alcohol consumption (non-drinker, < 100 g/week, ≥ 100 g/week). We fitted two-level logistic random effects models to examine how alcohol consumption was related to SRH, and Cox proportional hazards models to examine its relation to all-cause mortality.

Both models were stratified by sex and adjusted for sociodemographic factors, pathology, biometrics, smoking and physical activity. In addition, all the confounders were examined for whether they moderate the relationship between alcohol and the health-related outcomes through interaction analyses. RESULTS: We found that women who consumed ≥ 100 g/week had better SRH than those who consumed < 100 g/week; OR 1.85 (1.46-2.34). This pattern was not found in men OR 1.18 (0.99-1.42). We identified an equal mortality risk in both women and men who exceeded 100 g/week compared with those who consumed less than 100 g/week; HR 0.95 (0.73-1.22) and HR 0.89 (0.77-1.03), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: There was no clear evidence of an independent negative effect on either self-rated health trajectories or all-cause mortality for exceeding an average of 100 g/week compared to lower drinking levels in this study with up to 25 years follow-up.

However, some sex-specific risk factors in combination with the highest level of alcohol consumption led to adverse effects on self-rated health. In men it was the use of sleeping pills or tranquilisers and  ≥  20 years of smoking, in women it was physical illness and older age.

BACKGROUND: Most of the available epidemiological evidence on alcohol and chronic disease agrees on recommending alcohol abstention to young people, but some controversy exists about the most appropriate recommendation for alcohol abstention for people of older ages. A growing body of evidence suggests that the pattern of alcohol consumption is likely to be a strong effect modifier. The Mediterranean Alcohol Drinking Pattern (MADP) represents a score integrating several dimensions of drinking patterns (moderation, preference for red wine, drinking with meals, and avoiding binge drinking). Our aim was to clarify this issue and provide more precise recommendations on alcohol consumption.

METHODS: We prospectively followed-up 2226 participants (men older than 50 years and women older than 55 years at baseline) in the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort. We classified participants into three categories of adherence to the MADP score (low, moderate, and high), and we added a fourth category for abstainers. Cox regression models estimated multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HR) of all-cause death and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using low MADP adherence as the reference category. RESULTS: The strongest reduction in risk of mortality was observed for those with high adherence to the MADP, with an HR of 0.54 (95% CI: 0.37-0.80). The moderate adherence group (HR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.44-0.96) and the abstention group (HR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.36-0.98) also exhibited lower risks of mortality than the low MADP adherence group.

CONCLUSIONS: based on the available evidence, a public health message can be provided to people older than 50 years as follows: among those who drink alcohol, high adherence to the MADP score could substantially reduce their risk of all-cause mortality.

Alcohol drinking patterns may determine the risk of hypertension and may also modify the detrimental effect of high alcohol intake. We prospectively evaluated the effect of the Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern and its interaction with the amount of alcohol consumed on the incidence of arterial hypertension. In the "Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra" (SUN) cohort, we followed-up 13,805 participants, all of them initially free of hypertension, during a maximum period of 16 years.

Information about diet, chronic diseases, lifestyle and newly diagnosed hypertension was collected using validated questionnaires. We used a 7-item score (0 to 9 points) that jointly considered moderate alcohol consumption, distributed over the week, with meals, and a preference for red wine and avoidance of binge-drinking.

During 142,404 person-years of follow-up, 1443 incident cases of hypertension were identified. Low adherence (score < 2) to the Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern was significantly associated with a higher incidence of hypertension (multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio 1.81, 95% confidence interval 1.09-2.99) as compared to the high-adherence (score > 7) category. Among alcohol consumers, a high adherence to the MADP is associated with a lower incidence of hypertension. Compared with abstinence, a high adherence did not seem to differ regarding its effect on hypertension risk.

Every year, one member state of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) invites scientists from all over the world to present and discuss new research data. This year, the host was Mexico and Wine in Moderation (WiM) and the Deutsche Weinakademie (DWA) participated with a presentation.

Approximately 1200 wine and viticultural experts from all over the world followed the invitation of OIV (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin) and came to Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, where the 43rd congress took place from October 31st to November 4th. As representative of WiM, the Wine Information Council and DWA, Ursula Fradera, Scientific Coordinator, presented the future Wine in Moderation Educational tool for wine professionals as well as the topic “Wine consumption and cancer risk in context”.

 “Wine consumption and cancer risk in context”

The context is important

At the beginning of her talk on the topic of wine and cancer risk, Ursula Fradera emphasized that while existing research is largely consistent with regards to the harms of heavy/excessive drinking and binge drinking in terms of both cancer risk and other health problems, there are disparate messages regarding the safety of light to moderate consumption of wine/alcoholic beverages.

Most organizations advocate zero alcohol consumption to prevent various cancers. They argue that there is ‘no safe limit of alcohol’, mainly based on an increased cancer risk, these can often be found in modelling studies. However, in these modelling studies, important influencing factors for the cancer risk such as drinking pattern, type of alcoholic beverage and other lifestyle factors are not considered.

 Lifestyle factors – important influence on cancer risk

Since cancer is a multi-factorial disease, which takes a long time to develop, the cancer risk cannot be evaluated in isolation. Ms. Fradera explained that lifestyle factors such as eating and drinking patterns are important risk factors for cancer. Accordingly, the consumption of alcoholic beverages cannot be accurately evaluated in insolation from the other risk factors. The effect of alcohol on cancer risk will depend on the context, such as whether the alcoholic beverage is consumed with or without a meal, the type of foods consumed as well as smoking at the same time.

 According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), one third of the cancers could be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle (such as avoiding smoking, maintaining a normal body weight, being physically active, avoiding excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and keeping a healthy dietary pattern). This therefore shows that the influence of alcohol cannot be evaluated in isolation. Indeed, when light to moderate consumption as well as the type of alcoholic beverage were assessed in the context of a Mediterranean Diet and a healthy lifestyle, the results were different, and no increased cancer risk was observed. 

Wine and Mediterranean-type eating pattern

The Mediterranean Diet (Med Diet) is considered as one of the healthiest diets in the world. The Mediterranean cuisine includes not only vegetables, fruit, fish, cheese, nuts and olive oil but also a glass of wine with the meal. Several meta-analyses confirm that a higher adherence to the Med diet is associated with a lower cancer risk. Wine provides large amounts of several bioactive compounds - polyphenols - that may be potentially responsible for some of the wine’s anti-cancer effects and the observed positive health effects of light to moderate wine consumption may be - at least in part - linked to the protective effects of specific bioactive ingredients in wine (polyphenols) as well as in the foods consumed, with higher abundance in the Mediterranean diet.

 Ms. Fradera concluded that considering the scientific evidence of wine/alcohol consumption in the context of the Mediterranean diet and a healthy lifestyle, no increased risk with light to moderate intake (for women up to 1.5 glasses of wine or up to 20 g of alcohol/day, for men: up to 2 glasses of wine or up to 30 g of alcohol/day) is observed. 

New education package for wine professionals – from responsible service to a sustainable consumption of wine

In a 2nd presentation, Ursula Fradera presented – on behalf of Nadia Frittella - the various modules of the new Wine in Moderation education tool for wine professionals which will be announced soon. She introduced the basics of the Wine in Moderation initiative and highlighted the fact that education of all wine professionals plays an important role for a sustainable and responsible consumption of wine. 

The many questions at the end of her presentation showed the enormous interest in this topic but also the need for education about sustainable wine consumption. More information about the new Wine in Moderation educational tool will be released next Spring.

Geng T, Zhu K, Lu Q, Wan Z, Chen X, Liu L, Pan A, Liu G. Healthy lifestyle behaviors, mediating biomarkers, and risk of microvascular complications among individuals with type 2 diabetes: A cohort study. PLoS Med. 2023 Jan 10;20(1):e1004135. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004135. PMID: 36626356; PMCID: PMC9831321.


Excessive consumption of alcohol is not only a social problem, but it also significantly increases the morbidity and mortality rates of many societies. A correlation has been demonstrated between alcohol consumption and increased mortality from cancer, accidents and injuries, liver cirrhosis and other causes. Alcohol abuse increases the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke and the risk of ischemic stroke, induces serious arrhythmias, adversely affects blood pressure and damages the heart muscle. The dose and way of drinking alcohol play a crucial role in assessing whether this drink allows people to maintain health or whether it is a great health and social threat. The beneficial effects of low and moderate doses of alcohol on the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases have been shown in many population studies and meta-analyses in which the effect of U-shaped or J-shaped curves relating alcohol intake to cardiovascular mortality was observed, especially in ischemic heart disease. However, due to the fact that alcohol consumption is associated with many health hazards, it is not recommended to consume it as a preventive action of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, recent studies suggest that association of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption with the reduction in cardiovascular risk is a result of lifestyle changes and that any reduction in alcohol consumption is in fact beneficial in terms of general health.

Although excessive alcohol consumption is a highly prevalent public health problem the data on the associations between alcohol consumption and health outcomes in individuals preferring different types of alcoholic beverages has remained unclear. We examined the relationships between the amounts and patterns of drinking with the data on laboratory indices of liver function, lipid status and inflammation in a national population-based health survey (FINRISK). Data on health status, alcohol drinking, types of alcoholic beverages preferred, body weight, smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity were recorded from 22,432 subjects (10,626 men, 11,806 women), age range 25-74 years. The participants were divided to subgroups based on the amounts of regular alcohol intake (abstainers, moderate and heavy drinkers), patterns of drinking (binge or regular) and the type of alcoholic beverage preferred (wine, beer, cider or long drink, hard liquor or mixed). Regular drinking was found to be more typical in wine drinkers whereas the subjects preferring beer or hard liquor were more often binge-type drinkers and cigarette smokers. Alcohol use in all forms was associated with increased frequencies of abnormalities in the markers of liver function, lipid status and inflammation even at rather low levels of consumption. The highest rates of abnormalities occurred, however, in the subgroups of binge-type drinkers preferring beer or hard liquor. These results demonstrate that adverse consequences of alcohol occur even at moderate average drinking levels especially in individuals who engage in binge drinking and in those preferring beer or hard liquor. Further emphasis should be placed on such patterns of drinking in policies aimed at preventing alcohol-induced adverse health outcomes.

Preventing or delaying the onset of alcohol use among children and youth is an important public health goal. One possible factor in alcohol use onset among early adolescents is caffeine. The aim of this study was to assess the possible contribution of caffeine to the onset of alcohol use during early adolescence. We used data from the Young Mountaineer Health Study Cohort. Survey data were collected from 1349 (response rate: 80.7%) 6th grade students (mean age at baseline 11.5 years) in 20 middle schools in West Virginia during the fall of 2020, and again approximately 6 months later in spring of 2021. We limited our analyses to students reporting never having used any form of alcohol at baseline. Logistic regression was employed in multivariable analyses and both Odds Ratios and Relative Risks reported. At follow-up, almost 14% of participants reported having consumed alcohol at least once and 57% used caffeine of 100 mg + daily. In multivariable analyses we controlled for social and behavioral variables known to impact tobacco use. Caffeine use was operationalized as a three-level factor: no use, <100 mg per day, and 100 + mg per day, with the latter being the approximate equivalent of the minimum of a typical cup of coffee or can of energy drink. Caffeine use of 100 mg + per day was significantly related to alcohol use at 6-months follow-up (OR: 1.79, RR: 1.56, p = .037). We conclude that caffeine consumption among 11-12-year-old adolescents may be a factor in early onset of alcohol use.

BACKGROUND: Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of several chronic diseases. In this multicohort study, we estimated the number of life-years without major chronic diseases according to different characteristics of alcohol use.

METHODS: In primary analysis, we pooled individual-level data from up to 129,942 adults across 12 cohort studies with baseline data collection on alcohol consumption, drinking patterns, and history between 1986 and 2005 (the IPD-Work Consortium). Self-reported alcohol consumption was categorised according to UK guidelines - non-drinking (never or former drinkers); moderate consumption (1-14 units); heavy consumption (>14 units per week). We further subdivided moderate and heavy drinkers by binge drinking pattern (alcohol-induced loss of consciousness). In addition, we assessed problem drinking using linked data on hospitalisations due to alcohol abuse or poisoning. Follow-up for chronic diseases for all participants included incident type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory disease (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as ascertained via linkage to national morbidity and mortality registries, repeated medical examinations, and/or self-report. We estimated years lived without any of these diseases between 40 and 75 years of age according to sex and characteristics of alcohol use. We repeated the main analyses using data from 427,621 participants in the UK Biobank cohort study.

FINDINGS: During 1.73 million person-years at risk, 22,676 participants in IPD-Work cohorts developed at least one chronic condition. From age 40 to 75 years, never-drinkers [men: 29.3 (95%CI 27.9-30.8) years, women 29.8 (29.2-30.4) years)] and moderate drinkers with no binge drinking habit [men 28.7 (28.4-29.0) years, women 29.6 (29.4-29.7) years] had the longest disease-free life span. A much shorter disease-free life span was apparent in participants who experienced alcohol poisoning [men 23.4 (20.9-26.0) years, women 24.0 (21.4-26.5) years] and those with self-reported heavy overall consumption and binge drinking [men: 26.0 (25.3-26.8), women 27.5 (26.4-28.5) years]. The pattern of results for alcohol poisoning and self-reported alcohol consumption was similar in UK Biobank. In IPD-Work and UK Biobank, differences in disease-free years between self-reported moderate drinkers and heavy drinkers were 1.5 years or less.

INTERPRETATION: Individuals with alcohol poisonings or heavy self-reported overall consumption combined with a binge drinking habit have a marked 3- to 6-year loss in healthy longevity. Differences in disease-free life between categories of self-reported weekly alcohol consumption were smaller. Funding: Medical Research Council, National Institute on Aging, NordForsk, Academy of Finland, Finnish Work Environment Fund.

INTRODUCTION: A significant amount of binge drinking among adults escapes public health scrutiny because it occurs among individuals who drink at a moderate average level. This observational study examined the role of a binge pattern of drinking in predicting alcohol problems among moderate drinkers in a U.S. national sample of adults.

METHODS: Participants were 1,229 current drinkers aged >/=30 years from 2 waves of the study of Midlife Development in the United States, with a 9-year time lag (2004-2015) (analyzed in 20212022). Negative binomial regression analyses were used to examine the number of alcohol problems, and binary logistic regression analyses were used to examine multiple (>/=2) alcohol problems.

RESULTS: Independent of the average level of drinking, binge drinking was linked with an almost 3 times increase in the number of concurrent alcohol problems and a 40% increase in the number of alcohol problems prospectively 9 years later. Moderate average level drinkers accounted for most cases of binge drinking and multiple alcohol problems. Among moderate drinkers, binge drinking was linked with a close to 5 times increase in concurrent multiple alcohol problems and a >2 times increase in multiple alcohol problems prospectively 9 years later.

CONCLUSIONS: These results substantially broaden an increasing recognition that binge drinking is a public health concern among adults. Moderate average-level drinkers should be included in efforts to reduce alcohol problems in adults. These findings are applicable to primary and secondary prevention of alcohol problems with the potential to advance population health.

This review discusses the inconsistent recommendations on alcohol consumption and its association with chronic disease, highlighting the need for an evidence-based consensus. Alcohol is an addictive substance consumed worldwide, especially in European countries. Recommendations on alcohol consumption are controversial.

On one hand, many nonrandomized studies defend that moderate consumption has a beneficial cardiovascular effect or a lower risk of all-cause mortality. On the other hand, alcohol is associated with an increased risk of cancer, neurological diseases, or injuries, among others.

For years, efforts have been made to answer the question regarding the safe amount of alcohol intake, but controversies remain. Observational studies advocate moderate alcohol consumption following a Mediterranean pattern (red wine with meals avoiding binge drinking) as the best option for current drinkers.

However, agencies such as the IARC recommend abstention from alcohol as it is a potent carcinogen. In this context, more randomized trial with larger sample size and hard clinical endpoints should be conducted to clarify the available evidence and provide clinicians with support for their clinical practice.

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