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Approved research

Alcohol Non-communicable Disease Mendelian Randomisation Consortium

Principal Investigator: Dr Caroline Dale
Approved Research ID: 24619
Approval date: August 1st 2016

Lay summary

We aim to reveal the true nature of the association of alcohol with non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease and dementia/ cognitive impairment, by using genes as instrumental variables. Alcohol is the third leading risk factor for death and disability worldwide. While the harmful effects of alcohol on many health conditions are well-established, uncertainty remains concerning the reported protective effects of light-to-moderate alcohol consumption for cardiovascular disease. This research seeks to clarify the true causal nature of the association and inform public health policy for this important global risk factor. Existing evidence for the cardioprotective effect of light drinking comes from people reporting alcohol consumption and subsequent follow-up of events many years later. However, it is well know that people inaccurately report alcohol consumption and some change their drinking behaviour after being diagnosed with disease. In addition, people who drink small amounts of alcohol also tend to have other healthy behaviours (confounding). We plan to use a different strategy previously described as similar to a Randomised Control Trial using a genetic variant that tends to make people drink less to explore associations with disease (Mendelian Randomization). The full Biobank cohort will be included to maximise statistical power for genetic analyses.