22 October 2021 In General Health

Harmful alcohol use is a leading cause of premature death and is associated with age-related disease. Biological ageing is highly variable between individuals and may deviate from chronological ageing, suggesting that biomarkers of biological ageing (derived from DNA methylation or brain structural measures) may be clinically relevant. Here, we investigated the relationships between alcohol phenotypes and both brain and DNA methylation age estimates. First, using data from UK Biobank and Generation Scotland, we tested the association between alcohol consumption (units/week) or hazardous use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT] scores) and accelerated brain and epigenetic ageing in 20,258 and 8051 individuals, respectively. Second, we used Mendelian randomisation (MR) to test for a causal effect of alcohol consumption levels and alcohol use disorder (AUD) on biological ageing. Alcohol use showed a consistent positive association with higher predicted brain age (AUDIT-C: beta = 0.053, p = 3.16 x 10(-13) ; AUDIT-P: beta = 0.052, p = 1.6 x 10(-13) ; total AUDIT score: beta = 0.062, p = 5.52 x 10(-16) ; units/week: beta = 0.078, p = 2.20 x 10(-16) ), and two DNA methylation-based estimates of ageing, GrimAge (units/week: beta = 0.053, p = 1.48 x 10(-7) ) and PhenoAge (units/week: beta = 0.077, p = 2.18x10(-10) ). MR analyses revealed limited evidence for a causal effect of AUD on accelerated brain ageing (beta = 0.118, p = 0.044). However, this result should be interpreted cautiously as the significant effect was driven by a single genetic variant. We found no evidence for a causal effect of alcohol consumption levels on accelerated biological ageing. Future studies investigating the mechanisms associating alcohol use with accelerated biological ageing are warranted.

21 July 2021 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Acute and chronic alcohol abuse has adverse impacts on both the innate and adaptive immune response, which may result in reduced resistance to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and promote the progression of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there are no large population-based data evaluating potential causal associations between alcohol consumption and COVID-19.

METHODS: We conducted a Mendelian randomization study using data from UK Biobank to explore the association between alcohol consumption and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and serious clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19. A total of 12,937 participants aged 50-83 who tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 16 March to 27 July 2020 (12.1% tested positive) were included in the analysis. The exposure factor was alcohol consumption. Main outcomes were SARS-CoV-2 positivity and death in COVID-19 patients. We generated allele scores using three genetic variants (rs1229984 (Alcohol Dehydrogenase 1B, ADH1B), rs1260326 (Glucokinase Regulator, GCKR), and rs13107325 (Solute Carrier Family 39 Member 8, SLC39A8)) and applied the allele scores as the instrumental variables to assess the effect of alcohol consumption on outcomes. Analyses were conducted separately for white participants with and without obesity.

RESULTS: Of the 12,937 participants, 4496 were never or infrequent drinkers and 8441 were frequent drinkers. Both logistic regression and Mendelian randomization analyses found no evidence that alcohol consumption was associated with risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in participants either with or without obesity (All q > 0.10). However, frequent drinking, especially heavy drinking (HR = 2.07, 95%CI 1.24-3.47; q = 0.054), was associated with higher risk of death in patients with obesity and COVID-19, but not in patients without obesity. Notably, the risk of death in frequent drinkers with obesity increased slightly with the average amount of alcohol consumed weekly (All q < 0.10).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that alcohol consumption has adverse effects on the progression of COVID-19 in white participants with obesity, but was not associated with susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

21 April 2021 In General Health

PURPOSE: To examine the association of alcohol consumption and type of alcoholic beverage with incident cataract surgery in 2 large cohorts.

DESIGN: Longitudinal, observational study.

PARTICIPANTS: We included 469 387 participants of UK Biobank with a mean age of 56 years and 23 162 participants of European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk with a mean age of 59 years.

METHODS: Self-reported alcohol consumption at baseline was ascertained by a touchscreen questionnaire in UK Biobank and a food-frequency questionnaire in EPIC-Norfolk. Cases were defined as participants undergoing cataract surgery in either eye as ascertained via data linkage to National Health Service procedure statistics. We excluded participants with cataract surgery up to 1 year after the baseline assessment visit or those with self-reported cataract at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the associations of alcohol consumption with incident cataract surgery, adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, Townsend deprivation index, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and diabetes status.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incident cataract surgery.

RESULTS: There were 19 011 (mean cohort follow-up of 95 months) and 4573 (mean cohort follow-up of 193 months) incident cases of cataract surgery in UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk, respectively. Compared with nondrinkers, drinkers were less likely to undergo cataract surgery in UK Biobank (hazard ratio [HR], 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85-0.93) and EPIC-Norfolk (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.84-0.97) after adjusting for covariables. Among alcohol consumers, greater alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced risk of undergoing cataract surgery in EPIC-Norfolk (P < 0.001), whereas a U-shaped association was observed in the UK Biobank. Compared with nondrinkers, subgroup analysis by type of alcohol beverage showed the strongest protective association with wine consumption; the risk of incident cataract surgery was 23% and 14% lower among those in the highest category of wine consumption in EPIC-Norfolk and UK Biobank, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest a lower risk of undergoing cataract surgery with low to moderate alcohol consumption. The association was particularly apparent with wine consumption. We cannot exclude the possibility of residual confounding, and further studies are required to determine whether this association is causal in nature.

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