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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Critique 113: Metabolic and biochemical mechanisms by which alcohol consumption affects health — 11 June 2013

Whitfield JB, Heath AC, Madden PAF, Pergadia ML, Montgomery GW, Martin NG. Metabolic and biochemical effects of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2013;37:575–586.
Forum Comments

The large majority of prospective epidemiologic studies have demonstrated a “J-shaped” or “U-shaped” relation between the consumption of alcohol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. While the average amount of alcohol consumed is generally related to such risk, studies providing data on the pattern of drinking generally show an even greater reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease at be associated with light-to-moderate drinking, especially the regular consumption of alcohol without binge drinking.
Numerous mechanisms for the beneficial effects of light drinking have been identified. As well summarized by Brien et al (Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies. BMJ 2011;342:doi:10.1136/bmj.d636), mechanisms have been shown for alcohol’s effects on lipids, coagulation, inflammation, endothelial function, and other metabolic parameters. Many studies have also shown that the polyphenols in wine have additional beneficial effects on risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.
The present paper describes the relation between reported alcohol consumption and a variety of metabolic and biochemical factors among a large number of subjects in a population-based study in Australia. That study focused on genetic factors among twins and their families. The main estimate of alcohol consumption was the reported total number of drinks in the preceding week from a retrospective alcohol diary collected at the time blood was drawn. For most subjects, intake was also assessed from a telephone interview seeking an estimate of the average alcohol intake over the past year; the latter gave a lower estimated average alcohol intake, but essentially the same relation with metabolic and biochemical parameters as the alcohol diary  > > > >  Read More