Riviste scientifiche

Evaluating the relationship between alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and cardiovascular disease: A multivariable Mendelian randomization study

PLoS Medicine - Ve, 04/12/2020 - 23:00

by Daniel B. Rosoff, George Davey Smith, Nehal Mehta, Toni-Kim Clarke, Falk W. Lohoff


Alcohol consumption and smoking, 2 major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), often occur together. The objective of this study is to use a wide range of CVD risk factors and outcomes to evaluate potential total and direct causal roles of alcohol and tobacco use on CVD risk factors and events.

Methods and findings

Using large publicly available genome-wide association studies (GWASs) (results from more than 1.2 million combined study participants) of predominantly European ancestry, we conducted 2-sample single-variable Mendelian randomization (SVMR) and multivariable Mendelian randomization (MVMR) to simultaneously assess the independent impact of alcohol consumption and smoking on a wide range of CVD risk factors and outcomes. Multiple sensitivity analyses, including complementary Mendelian randomization (MR) methods, and secondary alcohol consumption and smoking datasets were used. SVMR showed genetic predisposition for alcohol consumption to be associated with CVD risk factors, including high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (beta 0.40, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.04–0.47, P value = 1.72 × 10−28), triglycerides (TRG) (beta −0.23, 95% CI, −0.30, −0.15, P value = 4.69 × 10−10), automated systolic blood pressure (BP) measurement (beta 0.11, 95% CI, 0.03–0.18, P value = 4.72 × 10−3), and automated diastolic BP measurement (beta 0.09, 95% CI, 0.03–0.16, P value = 5.24 × 10−3). Conversely, genetically predicted smoking was associated with increased TRG (beta 0.097, 95% CI, 0.014–0.027, P value = 6.59 × 10−12). Alcohol consumption was also associated with increased myocardial infarction (MI) and coronary heart disease (CHD) risks (MI odds ratio (OR) = 1.24, 95% CI, 1.03–1.50, P value = 0.02; CHD OR = 1.21, 95% CI, 1.01–1.45, P value = 0.04); however, its impact was attenuated in MVMR adjusting for smoking. Conversely, alcohol maintained an association with coronary atherosclerosis (OR 1.02, 95% CI, 1.01–1.03, P value = 5.56 × 10−4). In comparison, after adjusting for alcohol consumption, smoking retained its association with several CVD outcomes including MI (OR = 1.84, 95% CI, 1.43, 2.37, P value = 2.0 × 10−6), CHD (OR = 1.64, 95% CI, 1.28–2.09, P value = 8.07 × 10−5), heart failure (HF) (OR = 1.61, 95% CI, 1.32–1.95, P value = 1.9 × 10−6), and large artery atherosclerosis (OR = 2.4, 95% CI, 1.41–4.07, P value = 0.003). Notably, using the FinnGen cohort data, we were able to replicate the association between smoking and several CVD outcomes including MI (OR = 1.77, 95% CI, 1.10–2.84, P value = 0.02), HF (OR = 1.67, 95% CI, 1.14–2.46, P value = 0.008), and peripheral artery disease (PAD) (OR = 2.35, 95% CI, 1.38–4.01, P value = 0.002). The main limitations of this study include possible bias from unmeasured confounders, inability of summary-level MR to investigate a potentially nonlinear relationship between alcohol consumption and CVD risk, and the generalizability of the UK Biobank (UKB) to other populations.


Evaluating the widest range of CVD risk factors and outcomes of any alcohol consumption or smoking MR study to date, we failed to find a cardioprotective impact of genetically predicted alcohol consumption on CVD outcomes. However, alcohol was associated with and increased HDL-C, decreased TRG, and increased BP, which may indicate pathways through impact CVD risk, warranting further study. We found smoking to be a risk factor for many CVDs even after adjusting for alcohol. While future studies incorporating alcohol consumption patterns are necessary, our data suggest causal inference between alcohol, smoking, and CVD risk, further supporting that lifestyle modifications might be able to reduce overall CVD risk.

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is about to deliver asteroid rocks to Earth

New Scientist - Ve, 04/12/2020 - 19:52
The Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will drop off samples of dust and rocks from the asteroid Ryugu on 6 December before heading off to visit another asteroid

Covid-19 news: US health adviser says January will be ‘terrible’

New Scientist - Ve, 04/12/2020 - 18:35
The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

9 of the best board games to play for fans of science and tech

New Scientist - Ve, 04/12/2020 - 18:11
There are lots of great board games if you are interested in science, including Wingspan, a beautifully presented game celebrating bird diversity, and The search for Planet-X, a deductive puzzle in which you are astronomers searching for a mysterious planet

Military robots perform worse when humans won't stop interrupting them

New Scientist - Ve, 04/12/2020 - 12:21
A US project has found that AI-controlled military robots perform worse when humans interrupt them – but letting the robots operate alone raises serious ethical questions

Voice assistant recordings could reveal what someone nearby is typing

New Scientist - Ve, 04/12/2020 - 11:00
Tapping on devices that is detected by voice assistants could potentially be used to deduce what a person is typing on their phone up to half a metre away

UK sets ambitious climate goal of 68 per cent emissions cut by 2030

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 23:30
The UK government has pledged to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2030, marking a significant bump from existing plans for a 53 to 57 per cent reduction

Dose-dependent oral glucocorticoid cardiovascular risks in people with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases: A population-based cohort study

PLoS Medicine - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 23:00

by Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Ann W. Morgan, Richard M. Cubbon, Jianhua Wu


Glucocorticoids are widely used to reduce disease activity and inflammation in patients with a range of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. It is uncertain whether or not low to moderate glucocorticoid dose increases cardiovascular risk. We aimed to quantify glucocorticoid dose-dependent cardiovascular risk in people with 6 immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

Methods and findings

We conducted a population-based cohort analysis of medical records from 389 primary care practices contributing data to the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), linked to hospital admissions and deaths in 1998–2017. We estimated time-variant daily and cumulative glucocorticoid prednisolone-equivalent dose-related risks and hazard ratios (HRs) of first all-cause and type-specific cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). There were 87,794 patients with giant cell arteritis and/or polymyalgia rheumatica (n = 25,581), inflammatory bowel disease (n = 27,739), rheumatoid arthritis (n = 25,324), systemic lupus erythematosus (n = 3,951), and/or vasculitis (n = 5,199), and no prior CVD. Mean age was 56 years and 34.1% were men. The median follow-up time was 5.0 years, and the proportions of person–years spent at each level of glucocorticoid daily exposure were 80% for non-use, 6.0% for <5 mg, 11.2% for 5.0–14.9 mg, 1.6% for 15.0–24.9 mg, and 1.2% for ≥25.0 mg.Incident CVD occurred in 13,426 (15.3%) people, including 6,013 atrial fibrillation, 7,727 heart failure, and 2,809 acute myocardial infarction events. One-year cumulative risks of all-cause CVD increased from 1.4% in periods of non-use to 8.9% for a daily prednisolone-equivalent dose of ≥25.0 mg. Five-year cumulative risks increased from 7.1% to 28.0%, respectively. Compared to periods of non-glucocorticoid use, those with <5.0 mg daily prednisolone-equivalent dose had increased all-cause CVD risk (HR = 1.74; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.64–1.84; range 1.52 for polymyalgia rheumatica and/or giant cell arteritis to 2.82 for systemic lupus erythematosus). Increased dose-dependent risk ratios were found regardless of disease activity level and for all type-specific CVDs. HRs for type-specific CVDs and <5.0-mg daily dose use were: 1.69 (95% CI 1.54–1.85) for atrial fibrillation, 1.75 (95% CI 1.56–1.97) for heart failure, 1.76 (95% CI 1.51–2.05) for acute myocardial infarction, 1.78 (95% CI 1.53–2.07) for peripheral arterial disease, 1.32 (95% CI 1.15–1.50) for cerebrovascular disease, and 1.93 (95% CI 1.47–2.53) for abdominal aortic aneurysm.The lack of hospital medication records and drug adherence data might have led to underestimation of the dose prescribed when specialists provided care and overestimation of the dose taken during periods of low disease activity. The resulting dose misclassification in some patients is likely to have reduced the size of dose–response estimates.


In this study, we observed an increased risk of CVDs associated with glucocorticoid dose intake even at lower doses (<5 mg) in 6 immune-mediated diseases. These results highlight the importance of prompt and regular monitoring of cardiovascular risk and use of primary prevention treatment at all glucocorticoid doses.

China's Chang'e 5 is bringing back the first moon rocks in 44 years

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 20:13
The Chinese Chang’e 5 mission has spent two days digging on the moon and is now ready to bring back samples of lunar soil and rocks for analysis

Superfluid used to make sounds that might be heard in neutron star

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 20:00
Nobody will ever hear the sounds produced inside a neutron star, but we have created what might be the next best thing using lithium atoms that behave like a superfluid

A quantum computer that measures light has achieved quantum supremacy

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 20:00
A specialised quantum computer has achieved quantum supremacy, accomplishing in under 4 minutes what would take the biggest supercomputer 600 million years

Brain stimulation device lets monkeys 'see' shapes without using eyes

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 20:00
Two monkeys can see shapes without using their eyes after electrodes were implanted in their brains – a small step towards restoring some sight in visually impaired people

Vaginal bacteria may eat HIV prevention drugs and leave women at risk

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 20:00
Differences in the vaginal microbiome may leave some women at a greater risk of contracting HIV because certain microbes metabolise HIV prevention drugs

Covid-19 news: UK hospitals may get Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine first

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 18:53
The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

Stone Age humans chose to voyage to Japanese islands over the horizon

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 17:00
After tracking buoys drifting in the oceans, archaeologists argue that an epic Stone Age voyage from Taiwan to Japanese islands likely occurred deliberately

Everything you need to know about the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine

New Scientist - Gi, 03/12/2020 - 07:00
A coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech has received emergency authorisation in the UK and will begin to be available to the public soon

Trade-offs between cost and accuracy in active case finding for tuberculosis: A dynamic modelling analysis

PLoS Medicine - Me, 02/12/2020 - 23:00

by Lucia Cilloni, Katharina Kranzer, Helen R. Stagg, Nimalan Arinaminpathy


Active case finding (ACF) may be valuable in tuberculosis (TB) control, but questions remain about its optimum implementation in different settings. For example, smear microscopy misses up to half of TB cases, yet is cheap and detects the most infectious TB cases. What, then, is the incremental value of using more sensitive and specific, yet more costly, tests such as Xpert MTB/RIF in ACF in a high-burden setting?

Methods and findings

We constructed a dynamic transmission model of TB, calibrated to be consistent with an urban slum population in India. We applied this model to compare the potential cost and impact of 2 hypothetical approaches following initial symptom screening: (i) ‘moderate accuracy’ testing employing a microscopy-like test (i.e., lower cost but also lower accuracy) for bacteriological confirmation and (ii) ‘high accuracy’ testing employing an Xpert-like test (higher cost but also higher accuracy, while also detecting rifampicin resistance). Results suggest that ACF using a moderate-accuracy test could in fact cost more overall than using a high-accuracy test. Under an illustrative budget of US$20 million in a slum population of 2 million, high-accuracy testing would avert 1.14 (95% credible interval 0.75–1.99, with p = 0.28) cases relative to each case averted by moderate-accuracy testing. Test specificity is a key driver: High-accuracy testing would be significantly more impactful at the 5% significance level, as long as the high-accuracy test has specificity at least 3 percentage points greater than the moderate-accuracy test. Additional factors promoting the impact of high-accuracy testing are that (i) its ability to detect rifampicin resistance can lead to long-term cost savings in second-line treatment and (ii) its higher sensitivity contributes to the overall cases averted by ACF. Amongst the limitations of this study, our cost model has a narrow focus on the commodity costs of testing and treatment; our estimates should not be taken as indicative of the overall cost of ACF. There remains uncertainty about the true specificity of tests such as smear and Xpert-like tests in ACF, relating to the accuracy of the reference standard under such conditions.


Our results suggest that cheaper diagnostics do not necessarily translate to less costly ACF, as any savings from the test cost can be strongly outweighed by factors including false-positive TB treatment, reduced sensitivity, and foregone savings in second-line treatment. In resource-limited settings, it is therefore important to take all of these factors into account when designing cost-effective strategies for ACF.

Intake of dietary fats and fatty acids and the incidence of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective observational studies

PLoS Medicine - Me, 02/12/2020 - 23:00

by Manuela Neuenschwander, Janett Barbaresko, Claudia R. Pischke, Nadine Iser, Julia Beckhaus, Lukas Schwingshackl, Sabrina Schlesinger


The role of fat quantity and quality in type 2 diabetes (T2D) prevention is controversial. Thus, this systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to investigate the associations between intake of dietary fat and fatty acids and T2D, and to evaluate the certainty of evidence.

Methods and findings

We systematically searched PubMed and Web of Science through 28 October 2019 for prospective observational studies in adults on the associations between intake of dietary fat and fatty acids and T2D incidence. The systematic literature search and data extraction were conducted independently by 2 researchers. We conducted linear and nonlinear random effects dose–response meta-analyses, calculated summary relative risks (SRRs) with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs), and assessed the certainty of evidence. In total, 15,070 publications were identified in the literature search after the removal of duplicates. Out of the 180 articles screened in full text, 23 studies (19 cohorts) met our inclusion criteria, with 11 studies (6 cohorts) conducted in the US, 7 studies (7 cohorts) in Europe, 4 studies (5 cohorts) in Asia, and 1 study (1 cohort) in Australia. We mainly observed no or weak linear associations between dietary fats and fatty acids and T2D incidence. In nonlinear dose–response meta-analyses, the protective association for vegetable fat and T2D was steeper at lower levels up to 13 g/d (SRR [95% CI]: 0.81 [0.76; 0.88], pnonlinearity = 0.012, n = 5 studies) than at higher levels. Saturated fatty acids showed an apparent protective association above intakes around 17 g/d with T2D (SRR [95% CI]: 0.95 [0.90; 1.00], pnonlinearity = 0.028, n = 11). There was a nonsignificant association of a decrease in T2D incidence for polyunsaturated fatty acid intakes up to 5 g/d (SRR [95% CI]: 0.96 [0.91; 1.01], pnonlinearity = 0.023, n = 8), and for alpha-linolenic acid consumption up to 560 mg/d (SRR [95% CI]: 0.95 [0.90; 1.00], pnonlinearity = 0.014, n = 11), after which the curve rose slightly, remaining close to no association. The association for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and T2D was approximately linear for intakes up to 270 mg/d (SRR [95% CI]: 1.10 [1.06; 1.15], pnonlinearity < 0.001, n = 16), with a flattening curve thereafter. Certainty of evidence was very low to moderate. Limitations of the study are the high unexplained inconsistency between studies, the measurement of intake of dietary fats and fatty acids via self-report on a food group level, which is likely to lead to measurement errors, and the possible influence of unmeasured confounders on the findings.


There was no association between total fat intake and the incidence of T2D. However, for specific fats and fatty acids, dose–response curves provided insights for significant associations with T2D. In particular, a high intake of vegetable fat was inversely associated with T2D incidence. Thus, a diet including vegetable fat rather than animal fat might be beneficial regarding T2D prevention.

Plastic bottles dumped in rivers can travel thousands of kilometres

New Scientist - Me, 02/12/2020 - 20:00
Tracking the movements of plastic bottles released along the Ganges river shows they can travel as far as 3000 kilometres in less than 100 days.
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