01 February 2017 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: To describe the volume and patterns of alcohol consumption up to and including 2012, and to estimate the burden of disease attributable to alcohol consumption as measured in deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in the Americas in 2012.

METHODS: Measures of alcohol consumption were obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH). The burden of alcohol consumption was estimated in both deaths and DALYs lost based on mortality data obtained from WHO, using alcohol-attributable fractions. Regional groupings for the Americas were based on the WHO classifications for 2004 (according to child and adult mortality).

RESULTS: Regional variations were observed in the overall volume of alcohol consumed, the proportion of the alcohol market attributable to unrecorded alcohol consumption, drinking patterns, prevalence of drinking, and prevalence of heavy episodic drinking, with inhabitants of the Americas consuming more alcohol (8.4 L of pure alcohol per adult in 2012) compared to the world average. The Americas also experienced a high burden of disease attributable to alcohol consumption (4.7% of all deaths and 6.7% of all DALYs lost), especially in terms of injuries attributable to alcohol consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol is consumed in a harmful manner in the Americas, leading to a high burden of disease, especially in terms of injuries. New cost-effective alcohol policies, such as increasing alcohol taxation, increasing the minimum legal age to purchase alcohol, and decreasing the maximum legal blood alcohol content while driving, should be implemented to decrease the harmful consumption of alcohol and the resulting burden of disease.

01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Heavy drinking is a major factor in morbidity and mortality worldwide. Little information is available on trends in Canada regarding alcohol abuse. We sought to estimate abstinence, binge drinking and alcohol intake exceeding low-risk drinking guidelines in the Canadian population from 1996 to 2013.

METHODS: The data sources for this analysis were a series of cross-sectional national health surveys of the Canadian population carried out by Statistics Canada between 1996 and 2013. These were cross-sectional files from the National Population Health Surveys of 1996 and 1998, plus the Canadian Community Health Surveys from 2000 to 2013. Respondents were aged 18 years and older.

RESULTS: The proportion of binge drinkers increased steadily from 13.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 13.2%-14.2%) in 1996 to 19.7% (95% CI 19.1%-20.3%) in 2013. The corresponding proportions for men were 20.8% (95% CI 19.9%-21.7%) in 1996, and 25.7% (95% CI 24.7%-26.6%) in 2013; for women, these proportions were 6.9% (95% CI 6.4%-7.5%) in 1996, and 13.8% (95% CI 13.1%-14.5%) in 2013. No significant increases were seen in the proportion of people who exceeded low-risk drinking guidelines or of abstainers during the same period.

INTERPRETATION: The rate of self-reported binge drinking in Canada has increased from 1996 to 2013, relatively more so among women than among men. No evidence of an increase in the proportion of people exceeding low-risk drinking guidelines or of abstainers was seen during the same period. These results suggest that binge drinking is of particular concern regarding intervention strategies aimed at improvement of public health.

02 August 2016 In Social and Cultural Aspects

Adolescence is a time that can set the course of alcohol abuse later in life. Sensitivity to reward on multiple levels is a major factor in this development. We examined 736 adolescents from the IMAGEN longitudinal study for alcohol drinking during early (mean age=14.37) and again later (mean age=16.45) adolescence. Conducting structural equation modeling we evaluated the contribution of reward-related personality traits, behavior, brain responses and candidate genes. Personality seems to be most important in explaining alcohol drinking in early adolescence. However, genetic variations in ANKK1 (rs1800497) and HOMER1 (rs7713917) play an equal role in predicting alcohol drinking two years later and are most important in predicting the increase in alcohol consumption. We hypothesize that the initiation of alcohol use may be driven more strongly by personality while the transition to increased alcohol use is more genetically influenced.

02 August 2016 In Liver Disease
BACKGROUND: Fatty liver (hepatic steatosis) is one of the most common diseases globally, with increasing prevalence. The role of alcohol consumption in the development of hepatic steatosis has not been systematically examined. METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global for original data on the relationship between alcohol consumption and hepatic steatosis measured by non-invasive imagery, excluding studies conducted in participants <18years, or subgroups related to viral and drug-induced liver disease. We identified 18 articles reporting adjusted data (Japan=11, other high-income countries=7). Random-effect categorical meta-analyses (<20g/day pure alcohol consumption vs non-drinkers) and dose-response meta-analyses for the whole range of alcohol consumption were conducted. RESULTS: In total, 99,370 participants and 25,662 cases of hepatic steatosis were included. In Japan, low alcohol consumption was consistently associated with substantially reduced incidence and prevalence of hepatic steatosis compared to non-drinkers (RR for <20g pure alcohol/day=0.75, 95% CI: 0.71-0.79, I(2)=0%). No overall association was found in other countries (RR=1.05, 95% CI: 0.86-1.30, I(2)=84%). Dose-response analyses in Japan (up to 80g/day) showed an inverse relationship in men and a J-shape in women. CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol consumption showed a complex association with hepatic steatosis with substantial differences by ethnicity and sex. Low alcohol consumption was beneficial in Japan with good epidemiological evidence, whereas there was no association in other countries. However, heterogeneity was large in countries other than Japan. More and higher quality research in diverse ethnic populations is needed to further clarify this relationship
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