Professor Tony Blakely, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, Professor John Attia (University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute, Australia)
Many observational studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption reduces cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The so-called J-shaped curve. We summarised the ‘state of play’ on this topic at PHE Blog in early 2014. In the last few weeks a large ‘Mendelian randomisation’ study (like a genetically determined RCT of alcohol consumption – a study design with much potential for identifying causal (as opposed to confounded) associations) has been published suggesting that any alcohol consumption increases CVD. If true, this means the overall health harm from alcohol consumption in our society is even higher than currently thought. If so it would make cost-effective interventions such as alcohol taxation even more justified.
Professor Tony Blakely, Professor Jennie Connor, Associate Professor Nick Wilson
As a strategy to reduce harm from alcohol, there is growing interest internationally around the setting of minimum prices on alcohol. In this blog we review a paper just published in the Lancet on this approach. We also consider the potential implications for New Zealand around combining minimum pricing with increases in alcohol excise tax.
Professor Jennie Connor, University of Otago, researches the public health impacts of alcohol policy in NZ
Professor Tony Blakely and Associate Professor Nick Wilson
It is ‘well known’ that moderate amounts of alcohol are beneficial to cardiovascular health. But actually in research circles this ‘fact’ is hotly contested. In this blog we will overview the currently dominant understanding of a ‘J-shape’ association of alcohol and death rates. Then we look at a recent (and likely seminal) just published study of 400,000 European adults followed up for an average 13 years that reports a seemingly J-shape association – but which might actually be due to bias according to the authors.
Professor Richard Edwards
Party pills now have stringent government-promulgated rules and processes. All but one MP voted for the new law. The irony is that tobacco – and for that matter alcohol – with orders of magnitude more harm gets the wet bus ticket regulatory treatment. The promise is that if such a wide parliamentary consensus can be achieved on party pills, proportionate action on tobacco should see it sorted out by lunch time.
Assoc Prof Nick Wilson & Prof Tony Blakely
According to the just released “World Happiness Report 2013”, New Zealanders are among the happiest people in the world, ranking 13th out of 156 nations examined. Actually only seven countries appear to have significantly higher (happier) rankings than New Zealand (where the confidence intervals for the ranking scores clearly don’t overlap). These include the four Scandinavian countries, two European countries (Netherlands and Switzerland) and Canada. The source of the New Zealand data is the two-yearly New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS), run by Statistics New Zealand. Continue reading