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Prev Med. 2017 Feb;95:47-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.006. Epub 2016 Dec 6.

Changes in heavy drinking following onset of health problems in a U.S. general population sample.

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Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA. Electronic address:
Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 3333 California Street, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.


Heavy episodic drinking is a well-established risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, hypertension and injuries, however, little is known about whether health problems precipitate changes in subsequent drinking patterns. Retrospective cohort analyses of heavy drinking by decade were conducted using data from the 2010 U.S. National Alcohol Survey (n=5240). Generalized estimating equations models were used to predict any, monthly, and weekly heavy (5+) drinking occasions across decades of life following a diagnosis of hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, stroke, cancer, or serious injury. Experiencing heart problems was associated with higher odds of reduced weekly heavy drinking (adjusted odds ratio (ORadj)=3.5; 95% confidence interval (CI); 1.7-7.4). The onset of diabetes was also associated with higher odds of reducing any heavy drinking over the decade (ORadj=1.7; 95% CI; 1.1-2.6). Cancer survivors were less likely to report no heavy drinking (ORadj=0.5; 95% CI; 0.3-0.8) or no weekly heavy drinking (ORadj=0.3; 95% CI; 0.2-0.7). Hypertension, stroke and injury were not found to have any significant associations. Reduced heavy drinking was more likely to be reported by Black drinkers following heart problems and Whites following a diabetes diagnosis. Increased heavy drinking following a cancer diagnosis was significant among women and Whites. Future studies on alcohol's heath and mortality risks should take into consideration effects of health problems on drinking patterns. Additionally, study results support increased prevention efforts targeting heavy drinking among cancer survivors, especially White women, and individuals with or being treated for hypertension.


Alcohol; Cancer; Diabetes; Heart; Heavy drinking; Hypertension; Injury

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