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Alcohol patterns and frequency linked to health

Wednesday January 13th 2021

Some patterns of drinking behaviour may reduce risk of alcohol-related health problems, researchers have reported.

Researchers have found that drinking wine, consuming alcohol with food, and spreading alcohol intake over three to four days carry a slightly lower risk.

The study analysed information from 309,123 regular alcohol-drinkers in the UK Biobank database.

Those who drank mainly spirits had a 25% higher risk of all-cause mortality, a 31% higher risk of major cardiovascular events, and a 48% higher risk of liver cirrhosis than mainly red wine drinkers. There was also a raised risk for beer and cider drinkers.

Those who drank once or twice a week had a higher risk than those who drank a similar amount spread throughout the week, although daily drinking carried a higher risk.

Details were published yesterday (12 January) in BMC Medicine. Researcher Dr Bhautesh Jani, a general practice lecturer at Glasgow University, UK, said: “These findings are important as they may have implications for policy and could allow tailored advice on various ways to reduce harm."

A further study, released today (13 January) in the European Heart Journal finds that just one small alcoholic drink a day can raise the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Professor Renate Schnabel of the University Heart and Vascular Centre Hamburg, Germany, and colleagues analysed 108,000 individuals' medical records over 14 years and found that, compared with no alcohol, one daily drink with 12g ethanol was linked to a 16% increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Professor Schnabel said: “To our knowledge, this is the largest study on alcohol consumption and long-term incidence of atrial fibrillation. We can now demonstrate that even very low regular alcohol consumption may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation."

Jani, B. D. et al. Association between patterns of alcohol consumption (beverage type, frequency and consumption with food) and risk of adverse health outcomes: A prospective cohort study. BMC Medicine 12 January 2021 doi: 10.1186/s12916-020-01878-2


Csengeri, D .et al. Alcohol consumption, cardiac biomarkers and risk of atrial fibrillation and adverse outcomes. European Heart Journal 13 January 2021 doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa953


Tags: Drug & Alcohol Abuse | Europe | Heart Health | UK News

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