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Twenty-year trajectories of alcohol consumption during midlife and atherosclerotic thickening in early old age: findings from two British population cohort studies

Britton, A; Hardy, R; Kuh, D; Deanfield, J; Charakida, M; Bell, S; (2016) Twenty-year trajectories of alcohol consumption during midlife and atherosclerotic thickening in early old age: findings from two British population cohort studies. BMC Medicine , 14 (111) 10.1186/s12916-016-0656-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Epidemiological evidence indicates a protective effect of light-moderate drinking on cardiovascular disease and an increased risk for heavier drinking. Nevertheless, the effect of alcohol on atherosclerotic changes in vessel walls is disputed. Most previous studies have only looked at the cross-sectional relationship between alcohol and carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) – a surrogate marker of atherosclerosis. Single measurements of alcohol assume that alcohol exposure is stable and ignore the possible cumulative effects of harm, leading to possibly incorrect inferences. Methods: Data were retrieved from two UK population based cohort studies: the Whitehall II cohort of civil servants and the MRC National Survey of Health and Development (combined sample size of 5403 men and women). Twenty year-drinking trajectories during midlife were linked to measures of cIMT when participants were in early old age, and adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic position, ethnicity and smoking. Results: Those who consistently drank heavily had an increased cIMT compared to stable moderate drinkers (pooled difference in cIMT 0.021 mm; 95 % CI 0.002 to 0.039), after adjustment for covariates. This was not detected in cross-sectional analyses. Former drinkers also had an increased cIMT compared to moderate drinkers (pooled difference in cIMT 0.021; 95 % CI 0.005 to 0.037). There were no appreciable differences in cIMT between non-drinkers and consistent moderate drinkers. Conclusion: The drinking habits among adults during midlife affect the atherosclerotic process and sustained heavy drinking is associated with an increased cIMT compared to stable moderate drinkers. This finding was not seen when only using cross-sectional analyses, thus highlighting the importance of taking a life course approach. There was no evidence of a favourable atherosclerotic profile from stable moderate drinking compared to stable non-drinking.

Type: Article
Title: Twenty-year trajectories of alcohol consumption during midlife and atherosclerotic thickening in early old age: findings from two British population cohort studies
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-016-0656-9
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-016-0656-9
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Medicine, General & Internal, General & Internal Medicine, Alcohol, Life course, Longitudinal, Atherosclerosis, INTIMA-MEDIA THICKNESS, CORONARY-HEART-DISEASE, CAROTID-ARTERY STRUCTURE, RISK-FACTORS, METAANALYSIS, HEALTH, ADULTS, ASSOCIATION, DRINKING, MORTALITY
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Clinical Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1514968
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