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.
Observational epidemiologic studies relating alcohol consumption to health and disease have been remarkably consistent over many decades: light to moderate alcohol intake is related to improved cardiovascular health and less diabetes, while heavy intake and binge drinking relate primarily to adverse cardiovascular and other disease outcomes.
Carotid artery disease can be estimated by ultrasound from the thickness of the wall of the arteries (recorded as carotid artery intima/medial thickness, cIMT) and by evidence of atherosclerotic plaques within the carotid arteries. The association between alcohol intake and such lesions is unclear, as some studies show a positive association with cIMT and/or plaques while others show no association.
A recent review article appearing in Food & Function, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK, presents a summary of evidence-based scientific data relating the moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages to health.
Previous scientific research has shown that heavy alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for upper aero-digestive cancers, and even light drinking increases slightly the risk of breast cancer in women. A recent study is based on a very small number of cases of cancer in New Zealand, tabulated separately for Maori and non-Maori subjects. The research applies estimates of alcohol effects from other population-based studies.
Skin cancers, whether melanoma, basal cell, or squamous cell, are all increased by ultra-violet rays of the sun, and such cancers are much more common in areas of the world with more sun exposure. The risk of such cancers, however, is higher among individuals reporting excessive tanning. A recent study was undertaken to judge the relation between alcohol consumption and the risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), an association that is unclear from earlier research.
A large study from Denmark was designed to test the hypothesis that women who increase their alcohol intake over a five-year period have a higher risk of breast cancer and a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) compared with women who exhibit a stable alcohol intake.
A recent study in Denmark tested the hypothesis that alcohol consumption, both observational (self-reported) and estimated by genetic instruments, is associated with the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) and to determine whether people with high cardiovascular risk are more sensitive towards alcohol than people with low risk.
The ISFAR reviewed a meta-analysis based on data from more than 4m subjects in prospective cohort studies, among whom 11,846 incident cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed.
The stated purpose of this new analysis was to determine whether misclassifying former and occasional drinkers as abstainers and other potentially-confounding study characteristics underlie observed positive health outcomes for low volume drinkers in prospective studies of mortality.
Most previous studies have shown that consumers of light-to-moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages tend to have a significant reduction in their subsequent risk of developing Type II diabetes mellitus (DM).
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.
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