15 October 2014 In Cancer

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the role of factors that modulate the association between alcohol and mortality, and to provide estimates of absolute risk of death.

DESIGN: The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC).

SETTING: 23 centres in 10 countries.

PARTICIPANTS: 380 395 men and women, free of cancer, diabetes, heart attack or stroke at enrolment, followed up for 12.6 years on average.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: 20 453 fatal events, of which 2053 alcohol-related cancers (ARC, including cancers of upper aerodigestive tract, liver, colorectal and female breast), 4187 cardiovascular diseases/coronary heart disease (CVD/CHD), 856 violent deaths and injuries. Lifetime alcohol use was assessed at recruitment.

RESULTS: HRs comparing extreme drinkers (>/=30 g/day in women and >/=60 g/day in men) to moderate drinkers (0.1-4.9 g/day) were 1.27 (95% CI 1.13 to 1.43) in women and 1.53 (1.39 to 1.68) in men. Strong associations were observed for ARC mortality, in men particularly, and for violent deaths and injuries, in men only. No associations were observed for CVD/CHD mortality among drinkers, whereby HRs were higher in never compared to moderate drinkers. Overall mortality seemed to be more strongly related to beer than wine use, particularly in men. The 10-year risks of overall death for women aged 60 years, drinking more than 30 g/day was 5% and 7%, for never and current smokers, respectively. Corresponding figures in men consuming more than 60 g/day were 11% and 18%, in never and current smokers, respectively. In competing risks analyses, mortality due to CVD/CHD was more pronounced than ARC in men, while CVD/CHD and ARC mortality were of similar magnitude in women.

CONCLUSIONS: In this large European cohort, alcohol use was positively associated with overall mortality, ARC and violent death and injuries, but marginally to CVD/CHD. Absolute risks of death observed in EPIC suggest that alcohol is an important determinant of total mortality.

OBJECTIVE: To assess women's compliance with different Australian guidelines on alcohol intake during pregnancy and examine factors that might influence compliance.

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: We analysed prospective, population-based data on women aged 22-33 years who were pregnant before October 2001, when guidelines recommended zero alcohol (n = 419), or were first pregnant after October 2001, when guidelines recommended low alcohol intake (n = 829). Data were obtained from surveys conducted in 1996, 2000, 2003 and 2006 as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Relative risks (RRs) for zero alcohol intake, low alcohol intake and compliance with alcohol guidelines, estimated by a modified Poisson regression model with robust error variance.

RESULTS: About 80% of women consumed alcohol during pregnancy under zero and low alcohol guidelines. Compliance with zero alcohol guidelines or low alcohol guidelines (up to two drinks per day and less than seven drinks per week) was the same for women who were pregnant before October 2001 and women who were first pregnant after October 2001 (20% v 17% for compliance with zero alcohol guidelines, P > 0.01; 75% v 80% for compliance with low alcohol guidelines, P > 0.01). Over 90% of women drank alcohol before pregnancy and prior alcohol intake had a strong effect on alcohol intake during pregnancy, even at low levels (RR for zero alcohol, 0.21 [95% CI, 0.16-0.28]; RR for low alcohol, 0.91 [95% CI, 0.86-0.96]). RR for compliance with guidelines was 3.54 (95% CI, 2.85-4.40) for women who were pregnant while low alcohol intake was recommended, compared with those who were pregnant while zero alcohol guidelines were in place.

CONCLUSION: The October 2001 change in alcohol guidelines does not appear to have changed behaviour. Risks associated with different levels of alcohol intake during pregnancy need to be clearly established and communicated.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and binge drinking before and during early pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

METHODS: We used data from 5,628 nulliparous pregnant participants recruited to the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study, a prospective cohort study. Participants were interviewed at 15 weeks of gestation and information on alcohol intake before pregnancy and until the time of interview was obtained using a standardized questionnaire. Alcohol intake was classified as occasional (1-2 units per week), low (3-7 units per week), moderate (8-14 units per week), and heavy (greater than 14 units per week). Binge alcohol consumption was defined as consumption of 6 or more alcohol units in one session.

RESULTS: Of the 5,628 participants, 1,090 (19%) reported occasional alcohol consumption, 1,383 (25%) low alcohol consumption, 625 (11%) moderate alcohol consumption, and 300 (5%) heavy alcohol consumption. Overall, 1,905 (34%) participants reported binge alcohol consumption in the 3 months before pregnancy, and 1,288 (23%) of these participants reported binge alcohol consumption during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. Participants who consumed occasional to heavy amounts of alcohol in early pregnancy did not have altered odds of a small-for-gestational-age neonate, reduced birth weight, preeclampsia, or spontaneous preterm birth. Similarly, those who binge drank in early pregnancy did not have altered odds of these adverse pregnancy outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Alcohol consumption in early pregnancy was prevalent in this nulliparous cohort. There was no association between alcohol consumption before 15 weeks of gestation and small for gestational age, reduced birth weight, preeclampsia, or spontaneous preterm birth. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: : II

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: In 2009, Australian alcohol guidelines for pregnancy changed from low to no alcohol intake. Previous research found a high proportion of pregnant Australian women drank during pregnancy; however, there has been limited investigation of whether pregnant women comply with 2009 alcohol guidelines. The purpose of this study was to provide an assessment of pregnant women's compliance with 2009 Australian alcohol guidelines and identify predictors of such compliance, including previous drinking behaviour.

METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of prospective data from the 1973-1978 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health was conducted. Women aged 30-36 years who were pregnant at the 2009 survey and had data on alcohol use were included (n = 837). Compliance with 2009 alcohol guidelines for pregnancy was defined as no alcohol intake. Predictors of compliance were analysed using multivariate logistic regression, controlling for area of residence, in three separate models to account for multicollinearity between measures of previous alcohol intake (compliance with 2001 guidelines; frequency and quantity; bingeing). Private health insurance, household income, and illicit drug use were entered into all models and retained if significant.

RESULTS: 72% of pregnant women did not comply with the 2009 alcohol guidelines and 82% of these women drank less than seven drinks per week, with no more than one or two drinks per drinking day. The odds of complying with abstinence increased by a factor of 3.48 (95% CI 2.39-5.05) for women who previously complied with the 2001 alcohol guidelines and decreased by a factor of 0.19 (95% CI 0.08-0.66) if household incomes were $36,400 or more. In other models the odds of complying were lower for women who consumed alcohol before pregnancy at least weekly (OR = 0.40, 95% CI 0.25-0.63) or binged (OR >/= 0.18, 95% CI 0.10-0.31) and were higher for those who abstained (OR = 45.09; 95% CI 8.63-235.49) prior to pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: Most pregnant women did not comply with alcohol guidelines promoting abstinence. Prior alcohol behaviour was the strongest predictor of compliance during pregnancy, suggesting alcohol use should be addressed in women of child-bearing age. The study is limited by the relatively short timeframe between the official introduction of the 2009 guidelines and the date the surveys were sent out. Widespread dissemination of the guidelines may be necessary to help increase guideline compliance by pregnant women.

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