In a recent study published in Nutrients, researchers assessed the impact of moderate alcohol consumption on the quality of life (QoL) in young adults.
The benefit-risk ratio of moderate alcohol intake has been the subject of extensive discussion for the past 25 years. Alcohol intake has been correlated with favorable health effects, particularly on the cardiovascular and immunological systems. It is embedded in the cultures of most countries, playing a vital role in socialization and, consequently, health-related QoL (HRQoL).
However, the benefit-risk balance of alcohol intake depends on the quantity consumed as well as other parameters, including the type and frequency of alcoholic beverages ingested. Since alcohol misuse is associated with lower HRQoL, it is essential to investigate the link between HRQoL and moderate alcohol intake ranges.
About the study
The present study investigated the associations between alcohol usage trends and the subjective QoL in healthy persons.
The team performed an observational, cross-sectional study according to the ALMICROBHOL study, whose purpose was to examine the relationships between alcohol intake and the intestinal microbiota among healthy persons. A total of 272 adults between the ages of 25 years and 45 years having a body mass index (BMI) ranging from 18.5 to 35 kg/m2 were enrolled via advertisements posted in the university region and enterprises. After exclusions, the final sample included 261 individuals consisting of 134 men and 127 women.
During the study, respondents participated in two individual face-to-face interviews conducted by trained nutritionists. The subjects were queried about their lifestyle patterns. During the first visit, questionnaires were used to collect data on demographics and socioeconomic status (SES), general health status, symptoms, diagnosed diseases, non-chronic drug administration, QoL, smoking habits, alcohol intake, and sleep habits. Bowel habits and mental health questionnaires were answered by the subjects at home and returned during the second visit. The second visit also involved questionnaires regarding physical activity and eating habits.
An ad hoc frequency recall questionnaire was employed to estimate alcoholic beverage intake, while the modified SUN survey questionnaire was used to assess the alcohol drinking frequency. The questionnaire documented the consumption of wine, cava, beer, spirits, cider, and liquors, both pure and in combination with refreshments, as estimated by the participant over the last year. The team defined the following alcohol consumption categories: (1) "None": less than 0.7 g of alcohol per day; (2) "Low": 0.7 g to less than 5 g of alcohol per day; and (3) "Medium": 5 g to 16 g of alcohol per day for women and 5 g to 28 g of alcohol per day for men.
Men showed no significant variations between alcohol consumption groups. Age-related variations were significant only among females, with abstainers being four to five years older than the two regular consumption groups, on average. All drinking groups consumed beer at the highest rate (g/day). In the low consumption category, wine accounted for 5.3% more daily alcohol intake than in the medium consumption group, where beer predominated at 14.3%.
In the past year, 52.3% of participants in the low-consumption cohort reported having never consumed five or more drinks in one session. On the other hand, 18.0% of participants in the Medium consumption cohort did not drink five or more drinks in one session. Similarly, those in the Medium consumption cohort consumed alcohol more frequently than those in the low-consumption cohort. In particular, 35% of the participants in the Medium consumption cohort reported drinking alcohol between one and four times a year. Additionally, 33.3% of respondents consumed alcohol exclusively on weekends.
The assessment of QoL and mental health parameters revealed that the average alcohol consumption had no significant influence. Furthermore, no correlation was established between these characteristics and the quantity of each type of alcoholic beverage consumed.
Other characteristics that were the most influential in describing the self-assessment of mental and physical health in the study included gender for mental health factors and extra body fat for variance in physical function. Also, gender was considerably associated with the quantity of energy used during physical activity, whereas alcohol consumption had no effect on physical activity among the participants investigated. Furthermore, the amount of alcohol was not associated with daily sleep duration.
The study findings showed that moderate alcohol intake was unrelated to QoL, mental health, or lifestyle variables among young, healthy adults. However, the researchers believe these findings do not rule out that this drinking pattern may result in QoL changes in later life, particularly if it is a long-term behavior.
Furthermore, the team opines a need for population-based research, particularly prospective ones with well-defined control cohorts, to give additional scientific information on the association between alcohol use and health and QoL markers.