Although there is no misunderstanding that drinking too much alcohol is harmful, the relationship between moderate alcohol use and health is complex. A new study1, published in The Lancet, analyses the daily alcohol intake that minimises health risks based on worldwide data. For individuals aged 40 years and older, drinking small amounts of alcohol seems to have some beneficial effects, but drinking more increases health risks. For younger people the amount of alcohol that minimizes health risks is zero or close to zero.
Marta Trius-Soler wins the Beer and Health Publication Award 2021 with her publication on the effect of moderate beer consumption on menopausal symptoms. This is the second year on a row the Beer and Health Publication Award is awarded to the lead author of the best, most remarkable study focusing on moderate beer or alcohol consumption. Trius-Soler wins a monetary prize of 1,000 euro and may present her research findings during the next Beer and Health symposium in 2023.
More people reduced than increased their alcohol use since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. Those already drinking at high levels prior to COVID-19 mainly increased their alcohol consumption. This is the outcome of a recent meta-analysis.
What is the effect of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular disease? It is particularly difficult to investigate the effect of moderate consumption. A new study uses both the common research method and a newer method based on genetic variation. The common research method shows a protective effect on hypertension and coronary artery disease with moderate alcohol consumption. Adjusting for lifestyle factors slightly weakens this favorable association. The newer method of determining alcohol consumption on the basis of genes shows a slight increase in hypertension and coronary artery disease with moderate consumption.
Why do people drink more or less alcohol? Does it have anything to do with their mood? A study1 tries to answer these questions by analysing all studies done on this topic. The authors conclude both elevated negative and increased positive mood is associated with increased alcohol consumption, although the effects are small. Overall, findings point towards the possibility of developing a theory on affect intensity regulation of alcohol use.
Blood lipoproteins may play a role in the beneficial cardiovascular effects of moderate alcohol consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and improvement in cardiovascular risk markers. Up to 60 g of alcohol a day can cause changes in lipoprotein subfractions, mainly HDL subfractions, and its related functions that could explain the influence on cardiovascular health. This is the outcome of a recent systematic review including both observational and intervention studies.
In comparison with lifetime abstainers, drinking less than one drink a day is associated with a reduced risk of dying due to any cause. But more than two drinks a day is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular and especially cancer mortality. These are the outcomes of a large multi-country study that was recently published. This study confirms previous findings that alcohol has a J-shaped relation with mortality.
The evidence regarding the effect of alcohol on bladder cancer is still inconclusive. But a new meta-analysis tries to shed light on the matter. It finds no effect of alcohol consumption on the risk of bladder cancer in the general population, but it does find an increased risk of heavy alcohol consumption on the risk in males, and an increased risk with drinking spirits. More research is needed.
For the second time in a row, the Beer and Health Initiative offers a Publication Award of €1,000 for the best, most remarkable publication of the year focusing on moderate beer (or alcohol) consumption. Deadline of application is 31 March 2022.
A new meta-analysis finds a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease with alcohol consumption. The lowest risk is present for people drinking 2,5 to 3,5 drinks a day. Interestingly, only beer is significantly associated with a lower risk, not wine and spirits. Whether the relation is causal is still unclear.