In explaining recent trends in Russian mortality, alcohol drinking has often been put forward as a major factor. However, cardiovascular disease remains the major cause of death in Russia and alcohol is currently viewed as having a protective effect on heart disease. This study explores this apparent paradox by examining daily trends in deaths from cardiovascular disease in Moscow.
Those dying in Moscow in the years 1993-1995.
Analysis of daily variation in deaths based on data from Moscow City death certificates.
There is a significant increase in deaths from alcohol poisoning, accidents, and violence and cardiovascular diseases on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. This is especially marked for sudden deaths. This pattern is consistent with the known pattern of drinking in Russia, which is more likely to take place in binges than is the case in other countries.
A possible causative role for alcohol in sudden cardiovascular death is suggested as there are no other obvious explanations for this pattern, which cannot be accounted for by daily variations in traditional risk factors such as smoking or lipids. Although this is inconsistent with the prevailing view in the West that alcohol is seen as cardioprotective, there is considerable supporting evidence from a necropsy study and from studies in other places with a similar pattern of drinking. In countries such as Russia, where patterns of drinking differ considerably from that in the West, binge drinking can be an important cause of sudden cardiac death. This has important implications for estimates of the amount of mortality worldwide attributable to specific risk factors and thus for national and international policy.
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Russian adults have extraordinarily high rates of premature death. Retrospective enquiries to the families of about 50,000 deceased Russians had found excess vodka use among those dying from external causes (accident, suicide, violence) and eight particular disease groupings. We now seek prospective evidence of these associations.
In three Russian cities (Barnaul, Byisk, and Tomsk), we interviewed 200,000 adults during 1999-2008 (with 12,000 re-interviewed some years later) and followed them until 2010 for cause-specific mortality. In 151,000 with no previous disease and some follow-up at ages 35-74 years, Poisson regression (adjusted for age at risk, amount smoked, education, and city) was used to calculate the relative risks associating vodka consumption with mortality. We have combined these relative risks with age-specific death rates to get 20-year absolute risks.
Among 57,361 male smokers with no previous disease, the estimated 20-year risks of death at ages 35-54 years were 16% (95% CI 15-17) for those who reported consuming less than a bottle of vodka per week at baseline, 20% (18-22) for those consuming 1-2·9 bottles per week, and 35% (31-39) for those consuming three or more bottles per week; trend p
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This supplement includes a collection of papers that aim at estimating the relationship between per capita alcohol consumption and various forms of mortality, including mortality from liver cirrhosis, accidents, suicide, homicide, ischaemic heart disease, and total mortality. The papers apply a uniform methodological protocol, and they are all based on time series data covering the post-war period in the present EU countries and Norway. In this paper we discuss various methodological and analytical issues that are common to these papers. We argue that analysis of time series data is the most feasible approach for assessing the aggregate health consequences of changes in population drinking. We further discuss how aggregate data may also be useful for judging the plausibility of individual-level relationships, particularly those prone to be confounded by selection effects. The aggregation of linear and curvilinear risk curves is treated as well as various methods for dealing with the time-lag problem. With regard to estimation techniques we find country specific analyses preferable to pooled cross-sectional/time series models since the latter incorporate the dubious element of geographical co-variation, and conceal potentially interesting variations in alcohol effects. The approach taken in the papers at hand is instead to pool the country specific results into three groups of countries that represent different drinking cultures; traditional wine countries of southern Europe, beer countries of central Europe and the British Isles and spirits countries of northern Europe. The findings of the papers reinforce the central tenet of the public health perspective that overall consumption is an important determinant of alcohol-related harm rates. However, there is a variation across country groups in alcohol effects, particularly those on violent deaths, that indicates the potential importance of drinking patterns. There is no support for the notion that increases in per capita consumption have any cardioprotective effects at the population level.
AIMS: It has been suggested that the effects of alcohol, and binge drinking in particular, contributed to the dramatic fluctuations in Russian mortality rates: rapid decline in 1985-87, slow increase in 1988-91 and sharp increase in 1992-94. To date, there have been no data available to substantiate this claim. We examine for the first time the trends in alcohol intake and binge drinking in a Russian urban population. METHODS: Independent random samples of men and women aged 25-64 in two districts of Novosibirsk city (Western Siberia) have been examined in 1985/86 (1535 men and 1296 women), 1988/89 (1700 men, no women), and 1994/95 (1539 men and 1511 women). Response rates ranged from 71% to 73%. The subjects reported frequency of drinking alcohol, average amount of alcohol consumed at a typical occasion, and their alcohol intake in the week preceding the interview. Two cut-off points to define binge drinking were adopted: > or = 80 g and > or = 120 g at a single occasion. RESULTS: The proportion of men who drank at least once a week increased from 27% in 1985/86 to 38% in 1994/95; corresponding figures among women were 0.6% and 6.5%, respectively. The mean consumption of pure alcohol at a single occasion in men was 90 g in 1985/86, 119 g in 1988/89 and 112 g in 1994/95; in women, it was 33 g in 1985/86 and 32 g in 1994/95. Between the first and the last survey, the mean weekly intake of pure alcohol increased from 120 g to 184 g in men and from 31 g to 41 g in women. Prevalence rates of binge drinking (> or = 80 g at least once a month) in the three surveys were 36%, 52% and 51%, respectively, in men, and 0.4% in the first and 5% in the last survey among women. CONCLUSION: Alcohol consumption and prevalence of binge drinking were high in men and low in women. The frequency of binge drinking among men increased between 1985/86 and 1988/89 and remained stable between 1988/89 and 1994/95. This is not consistent with trends in mortality. Shorter-term fluctuations between surveys, however, cannot be excluded.
To evaluate the effects of changes in aggregate alcohol consumption on overall fatal accidents, motor vehicle accidents, fatal falling accidents and drowning accidents in Canadian provinces after 1950.
Time-series analysis of annual mortality rates (15-69 years) in relation to per capita alcohol consumption, utilising the Box-Jenkins technique. All series were differenced to remove long-term trends.
Gender-specific and age-adjusted mortality rates for the age group 15-69 years were calculated on the basis of mortality data for 5-year age groups, using a standard population. Data on per capita alcohol consumption was converted to consumption per inhabitant 15 years and older. In the analysis of motor vehicle accidents, the number of motor vehicles was used as a control variable.
Statistically significant associations between alcohol consumption and overall fatal accident rates were uncovered in all provinces for males, and in all provinces except Ontario for females. For Canada at large, an increase in per capita alcohol consumption of 1 litre was accompanied by an increase in accident mortality of 5.9 among males and 1.9 among females per 100,000 inhabitants. Among males there was a significant association with alcohol for both falling accidents, motor vehicle accident and other accidents, but the association was insignificant for drowning accidents. Among females, the association with falling accidents and other accidents was significant.
Changes in alcohol consumption have had substantial effects on most of the main types of fatal accidents in Canada during the second half of the 20th century. The size of the association is comparable to the one previously reported from Northern Europe.
To examine the relations between frequency of alcohol consumption and of binge drinking and adult mortality in Russian men and women.
Using modified indirect demographic techniques, a convenience cohort was constructed based on survey respondents' information about their close relatives. A random sample general population of the Russian Federation of 7172 respondents (response rate 61%) provided information on 10 475 male and 3129 female relatives, including age, vital status, and frequency of alcohol consumption and binge drinking. These relatives formed the cohort analysed in this report. The outcome measure was all-cause mortality after the age of 30 years.
There was a strong linear relation between frequency of drinking and of binge drinking and all-cause mortality in men; after controlling for smoking and calendar period of birth, the relative risk of death in daily drinkers compared to occasional drinkers was 1.52 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.33-1.75). Male binge drinkers had higher mortality than drinkers who did not binge, which persisted after adjustment for drinking frequency (adjusted relative risk 1.09, 95% CI 1.00-1.19). In women, the increased mortality was confined to a small group of those who binged at least once a month (adjusted relative risk 2.68, 95% CI 1.54-4.66).
The results suggest a positive association between alcohol and mortality in the Russian Federation. There was no evidence for the protective effect of drinking seen in western populations. Alcohol appears to have contributed to the high long-term mortality rates in Russian men, but it is unlikely to be a major cause of female mortality.
Comment In: Bull World Health Organ. 2005 Nov;83(11):80316302030
Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Unit of Biostatistics, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Low-to-moderate alcohol consumption is associated with decreased mortality. However, many aspects of this association are still debated. Our aim was to complement available information by conducting a dose-response analysis of the association between alcohol consumption and survival time.
In a Swedish population-based cohort of 67,706 middle-aged and elderly men and women, frequency and amount of drinking were assessed through a self-administrated questionnaire. During 15 years of follow-up, 13,323 participants died. Differences in survival (10th percentile differences, PDs) according to levels of alcohol consumption were estimated using Laplace regression.
We found evidence of nonlinearity between alcohol consumption and survival. Among women, we observed a rapid increase in survival up to 6 g/d of alcohol consumption (0.5 drinks/d) where survival was 17 months longer (PD = 17 months, 95% confidence interval, 10 to 24). After this peak, higher alcohol consumption was progressively associated with shorter survival. Among men, survival improved up to 15 g/d (1.5 drinks/d) where we observed a PD of 15 months (95% confidence interval, 8 to 22).
Low alcohol consumption was associated with improved survival up to 1.5 years for women with an average consumption of 0.5 drinks per day and to 1.3 years for men with an average consumption of 1.5 drinks per day.