Critiques from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research
By: International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research
The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research hosts forums that look at research conducted around the world on the relationship between alcohol consumption and health.
Recent research followed more than 6,000 women in a population-based cohort in an area of southern Sweden. The results of the follow-up were used to estimate how baseline levels of alcohol consumption, at age 50-59 years, related to total mortality risk over the subsequent 17 year
Many studies have shown that moderate alcohol drinkers tend to have higher ratings of their quality of life (QOL) than non-drinkers. The directionality of this association has been difficult to ascertain: Does moderate drinking improve someone’s QOL, or do people with higher QOL to begin with tend to drink alcohol moderately?
While there have been many observational studies of the relation of alcohol consumption to health risks and benefits, the number of clinical trials of alcohol administration for its health effects are limited.
Most observational studies have found that moderate drinkers, in comparison with non-drinkers, tend to have lower risk of all-cause (total) mortality; this is probably related primarily to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among the elderly.
Most observational epidemiologic studies have shown a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer for women who consume alcohol; the degree of increase is usually small for light-to-moderate drinkers (between 5% and 15% increase for consumers of no more than one drink/day), but the risk may be higher for women consuming greater amounts of alcohol.
Observational epidemiologic studies have consistently found that moderate drinkers are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Such alcohol consumption also lowers both the risk of diabetes as well as of CVD among diabetics. However, there have been few clinical trials of the administration of alcohol or wine among diabetics, and most have been for relatively short periods of time.
A recent paper presented prospective data from a large population-based cohort from rural Norway, a region with typically-light alcohol consumption and many abstainers who were not ex-heavy drinkers.
Prospective cohort studies for decades have tended to show that the risk of developing Type II diabetes mellitus is reduced among moderate drinkers in comparison with non-drinkers.
A recent analysis - based on data from two very large cohort studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study - evaluated the association of alcohol consumption over many years with the risk of cancer.
Our forum recently considered a paper based on a large cohort of subjects in Sweden who had IQ tests as children (when they were 13 years old) and were then followed for more than 30 years.
A recent paper describes the effects among 24 normotensive pre-menopausal women, all of whom were regular drinkers (of an average of two to three drinks per day), of the administration of two levels of alcohol in the form of red wine in a randomised clinical trial.
The ISFAR forum considered a recent paper that was based on data from more than 5,000 adults participating in an internet-based survey, which sought to determine the perceptions of subjects on the relation of alcohol to heart disease, and how these perceptions resulted in particular behaviours related to alcohol consumption.
A recent study evaluated the relation of alcohol consumption and the pattern of drinking with self-reports of suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts among more than 43,000 men and women in Korea.
The positive association between alcohol intake and certain hormone-dependent cancers - especially breast cancer- that has been noted in many studies has been attributed to an effect of alcohol through an increase in levels of estrogen and other hormones.
Epidemiologists have noted for many years that one of the key factors that affect the relationship between alcohol intake and many diseases is individuals’ education, income, or other index of socio-economic status (SES). While differences in drinking habits, other more moderate lifestyle factors, better access to health care and better diet have been suggested as potential mechanisms, there has been little research directed at this relation.
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