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Oulun yliopisto

Molecular research on alcohol effects questions benefits of moderate drinking

Media release.
Published: 18-Aug-2016 03:23 pm
Publisher: Oulun yliopisto

University of Oulu, Finland
Faculty of Medicine
Computational Medicine
Press release 18.8.2016


Molecular research on alcohol effects questions benefits of moderate drinking

Modest alcohol drinking is commonly considered beneficial for heart health. Scientifically, the issue is however still controversial. A new study found that alcohol consumption was associated with a complex metabolic profile in blood, comprising some favourable effects but mostly adverse consequences in relation to heart disease risk. The double-edged effects of alcohol now make it a bit more difficult to justify having that drink for health.

Alcohol is a leading risk factor for death and disability, yet for heart disease many studies have indicated a protective role of moderate drinking. The new research lead by University of Oulu, Finland, examined the relation of alcohol drinking with multiple blood biomarkers among almost 10,000 healthy young Finns. Alcohol consumption was found to be associated with a complex metabolic profile in the blood, covering both some potentially favourable effects but also many adverse effects in relation to the risk of cardiovascular disease. Among the novel effects uncovered were unfavourable changes in the blood concentrations of unsaturated fatty acids and also some amino acids that relate to the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“These new results provide important information on the complex metabolic effects of alcohol in the general population. The findings are in line with increasing evidence that call into question the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on heart health” says Dr. Peter Würtz, lead author of the study from the University of Oulu, Finland.

The metabolic associations with alcohol consumption were found to be similar in 3 different study settings. Further, 1466 study participants were re-examined for alcohol consumption and blood screening 6 years after the initial survey. The metabolic changes among people reporting changes in alcohol drinking were similar to the main findings. These results give confidence that the observed metabolic changes were due to alcohol consumption as such rather than other lifestyle factors clustering among people with higher alcohol consumption. Overall, the molecular effects uncovered help in understanding how alcohol is affecting metabolic health.

The study was led by the Computational Medicine Research Team at the University of Oulu, Finland, and was conducted in collaboration with researchers from, for example, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Turku, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, a leading epidemiology journal published by Oxford University Press. The publication is freely available at ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/08/02/ije.dyw175.long

Original article:

P Würtz, S Cook, Q Wang, M Tiainen, T Tynkkynen, AJ Kangas, P Soininen, J Laitinen, J Viikari, M Kähönen, T Lehtimäki, M Perola, S Blankenberg, T Zeller, S Männistö, V Salomaa, M-R Järvelin, OT Raitakari, M Ala-Korpela, DA Leon

Metabolic profiling of alcohol consumption in 9778 young adults

International Journal of Epidemiology 2016, Aug 5. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw175


Dr Peter Würtz, Head of Molecular Epidemiology Computational Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Tel: +358 5046 70900
Email: Peter.Wurtz@computationalmedicine.fi
More info: www.computationalmedicine.fi

Communications manager Tapio Mäkinen, University of Oulu, Tel: +358 40 546 3413

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University of Oulu
BOX 8000
FIN-90014 University of Oulu
+358 294 484 092

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