Alcohol-Harm Paradox Linked To Drinking Patterns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol” by Jorge Mejía peralta is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Eirik Degerud, PhD

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Alcohol-related hospitalisations and deaths are more frequent among individuals with low socioeconomic position, despite that they tend to drink less on average. This is referred to as the alcohol-harm paradox. Alcohol is associated with both higher and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, depending on the drinking pattern. We wanted to assess if the paradox was relevant to these relationship also. Continue reading

Weight Loss Procedures Can Double Blood Alcohol Absorption

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Alcohol” by Takahiro Yamagiwa is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Marta Yanina Pepino PhD

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study is not the first to look at whether sleeve gastrectomy affects alcohol absorption and metabolism. Before our study, there were three published studies in the literature on this issue. However, findings from these studies were discrepant. Two of the studies found that sleeve gastrectomy did not affect blood alcohol levels and one of the studies did found that peak blood alcohol levels were higher when people drink after having a sleeve gastrectomy. All these three studies used a breathalyzer to estimate blood alcohol levels.

Our study tested the following two related hypothesis.

First, that similar to Roux-en-Y- gastric bypass (RYGB), sleeve gastrectomy accelerates alcohol absorption, which cause peak blood alcohol levels to be higher and much faster than before surgery. Because the breathalyzer requires a 15 min of waiting time between drinking the last sip of alcohol and the time that you can read a good estimate of blood alcohol levels from the breath, we hypothesized that the breathalyzer was not a good technique to estimate peak blood alcohol levels in people who may reach a peak blood alcohol level before those 15 min have passed, such as people who underwent sleeve gastrectomy or RYGB.

We found these two hypothesis to be truth:

1) Sleeve gastrectomy, similar to RYGB, can double blood alcohol levels; and

2) The breathalyzer technique is invalid to assess effects of gastric surgeries on pharmacokinetics of ingested alcohol (it underestimate blood alcohol levels by ~27% and it may miss peak blood alcohol levels).

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Aldosterone-Mineralocorticoid Pathway Linked To Craving For Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D. Chief of the Section on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology, a NIAAA intramural laboratory 

Dr. Leggio

Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief of the Section on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology, a NIAAA intramural laboratory

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Aldosterone is an important hormone involved in the control of blood pressure and electrolytes via its mineralcorticoid receptor (MR). In addition to its roles in the periphery in our body, aldosterone also acts on the brain where the MR is particularly present in regions like the amygdala. The amygdala plays an important role in stress, anxiety and excessive alcohol drinking. Back in 2008, we conducted a small pilot study where we found that alcohol-dependent patients with higher blood aldosterone concentrations have higher alcohol craving.

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Opioids Withdrawal in Babies Adding Millions To Health Care Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tammy E. Corr, D.O. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Division of Newborn Medicine Penn State Hershey College of Medicine

Dr. Corr

Tammy E. Corr, D.O.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Newborn Medicine
Penn State Hershey College of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Recent literature has revealed hospital charges related to neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) have increased. However, there are no data available regarding costs of an NAS admission. Because charges are variable and influenced by a number of factors, provider costs to care for a patient offer more meaningful information.

Therefore, we endeavored to determine the incidence of NAS in the United States and estimate the total annual costs and hospital length of stay for an neonatal abstinence syndrome admission as well as the incremental costs and hospital days of admission for an NAS patient compared to a non-NAS admission.

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Pot Plus Alcohol Raises Fatal Traffic Accident Risk Over 500%

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Guohua Li DrPH, MD Professor and Director Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Department of Epidemiology Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University

Dr. Li

Guohua Li DrPH, MD
Professor and Director
Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention
Department of Epidemiology
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Drugged driving has become a serious problem in the United States in the recent years due to increased consumption of marijuana and opioids. About 20% of fatally injured drivers used two or more substances, with alcohol-marijuana being the most commonly detected polydrug combination.

Our study of over 14000 fatal 2-car crashes indicates that drivers testing positive for alcohol, marijuana, or both are significantly more likely to be responsible for initiating these crashes than those using neither of the substances. Specifically, compared to drivers not using alcohol and marijuana, the risk of being responsible for initiating fatal crashes increases 62% for those testing positive for marijuana and negative for alcohol, 437% for those testing positive for alcohol and negative for marijuana, and 539% for those testing positive for both alcohol and marijuana. These results suggest that when used in combination, alcohol and marijuana have a positive interaction on the risk of fatal crash initiation.

The most common driver error leading to fatal 2-car crashes is failure to keep in proper lane, followed by failure to yield right of way and speeding.

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Moderate Drinking Linked To Faster Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Anya Topiwala, BA (Hons) BMBCh (Oxon) MRCPsych DPhil Clinical lecturer Department of Psychiatry University of Oxford

Dr. Topiwala

Dr. Anya Topiwala, BA (Hons) BMBCh (Oxon) MRCPsych DPhil
Clinical lecturer
Department of Psychiatry
University of Oxford

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: I thought the question of whether moderate alcohol consumption is harmful or protective to the brain was a really interesting and important one, particularly because so many people drink this amount. There were a few studies reporting that a little alcohol may protect against dementia or cognitive decline, but the few brain imaging studies were conflicting in their results and had methodological limitations.

We examined whether alcohol consumption over a 30-year period was associated with brain imaging and memory decline in a group of 550 non-alcohol dependent individuals from the remarkable Whitehall II cohort. Subjects completed questionnaires and had clinical examinations approximately every 5 years over the 30 years of the study, and had detailed brain scans at the end.

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Kids From High Achieving Schools Can Be At Risk of Substance Abuse and Addiction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Suniya S. Luthar, Ph.D. Foundation Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University Professor Emerita, Columbia University's Teachers College President-elect, American Psychological Association's Div.7 (Development

Dr. Luthar

Suniya S. Luthar, Ph.D.
Foundation Professor of Psychology
Arizona State University
Professor Emerita
Columbia University’s Teachers College
President-elect, American Psychological Association’s Div.7 (Developmental)

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Over the last 20 years, we have found that kids in high achieving schools report higher use of drugs and alcohol than do their counterparts in national normative samples. This particular study was the first in which we followed up samples of high school students through young adulthood, to track levels of substance abuse and addiction.

Our findings showed consistently elevated use of various substances across the years. Of greatest concern were diagnoses of dependence (that is, not just abuse of substances but actual addiction to them); among 26 year olds, rates of these diagnoses were two to three times those in national norms.

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Does Alcohol Really Protect Against Heart Disease? Evidence Not Clear Cut

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Jinhui Zhao PhD Scientist, Centre for Addictions Research of BC University of Victoria

Dr. Jinhui Zhao

Dr. Jinhui Zhao PhD
Scientist, Centre for Addictions Research of BC
University of Victoria

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  There are now many studies questioning the validity of the theory that moderate alcohol consumption protects against heart disease. We provided an up to date and comprehensive review of the evidence from ‘cohort’ studies i.e. those that assess health risk behaviours of people then follow them up for a number of years to see what characteristics predict death from a particular condition. We wished to test the theory that the appearance of health benefits in relation to heart disease is due to biases that accumulate and become more severe when cohorts are recruited at older ages (e.g. over 55 years). We found evidence to support this hypothesis. Moderate drinkers recruited before 55 years of age did not show any evidence of reduced risk of heart disease even when followed up into old age. Moderate drinkers from the older cohorts, however, did appear to have significant benefits – a finding we attribute to selection biases that accumulate across the life-course.

Several published meta-analyses showed inconsistent findings about how alcohol consumption affects the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Most systematic reviews find associations between low-volume alcohol consumption and reduced CHD risk, while some also find increased CHD risk for higher levels of consumption (Maclure 1993, Corrao, Rubbiati et al. 2000, Corrao, Bagnardi et al. 2004, Ronksley, Brien et al. 2011, Roerecke and Rehm 2012). More recent evidence has accumulated to suggest that the case for cardio-protection may be less straightforward. The association of alcohol consumption with CHD may be confounded or modified by other factors such as age and sex and / or biased by those factors which have not been investigated or controlled for in these previously published studies.

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Intermittent Explosive Disorder Linked To Higher Risk of Substance Abuse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emil F. Coccaro, M.D. Ellen C. Manning Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience The University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois 60637

Dr. Emil Coccaro

Emil F. Coccaro, M.D.
Ellen C. Manning Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
The University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois 60637

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Aggressive behavior and drug use have been related for years but this study shows people with problematic aggression (Intermittent Explosive Disorder: IED) are in fact at risk for developing alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use disorders and that the onset of problematic aggression (IED) begins before the onset of the drug use.

The increased risk for alcohol use disorder was nearly six-fold higher, the increased risk for cannabis use disorder was seven-fold higher, and the increased risk for tobacco use disorder  was four-fold higher. In addition, the presence of IED increased the severity of the substance use disorder.

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High Achieving Adolescents Less Likely To Smoke, But More Likely to Drink, Use Pot

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. James Williams
UCL Medical School
UCL
, London, UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Despite a downward trend over the last decade in the usage of particular substances amongst adolescents in the UK, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis remain prevalent behaviours in this demographic. These risky health behaviours present a large problem in terms of public health due to the immediate and long-term health problems they cause, as well as negative non-health outcomes such as poor educational attainment and reduced employment.

The role of academic ability in determining patterns of substance use is not clear and no study has evaluated academic ability at age 11 in relation to the onset and persistence of all three substances from early to late adolescence and into young adulthood. Our study sought to determine the association between academic ability and the onset and persistence of substance use in adolescence in a representative sample of English school pupils. This would answer for the first time whether ability was associated with ‘experimentation’ in early adolescence or if the association persists into late adolescence.

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Strong Alcohol Policies Linked to Fewer Young Adults Dying In Car Crashes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Scott E. Hadland, MD, MPH, MS Assistant Professor of Pediatrics | Boston University School of Medicine Urban Health & Advocacy Track Director | Boston Combined Residency Program Boston, MA 02118

Dr. Scott Hadland

Scott E. Hadland, MD, MPH, MS
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Boston University School of Medicine
Urban Health & Advocacy Track Director | Boston Combined Residency Program
Boston, MA 02118

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Studies to date have shown that states’ alcohol laws can help prevent young people from dying in car crashes. However, studies to date have usually only looked at a single policy at once. We wanted to build on these previous studies by looking at the overall effect of multiple alcohol laws acting at once. We also wanted to look at laws not necessarily only targeting drinking and driving among young people, but also policies aimed primarily at adults over 21.

We studied deaths of young people under 21 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes across the United States between 2000 and 2013. We found that one-quarter of all young people died in a crash involving a driver who alcohol level was over the legal limit. One-half died in a crash in which the driver had any level of alcohol in their bloodstream above zero.

We also found that most young people died on evenings and weekends, which is when people are most likely to have been drinking. Importantly, almost half of all young people died in a crash in which they were the passenger, not the driver. In 80% of cases in which they were the passenger, it was actually an adult >21, not a young person, who was driving the vehicle.

We then looked at states’ alcohol laws, and found that the stronger the set of alcohol policies in a state, the lower the likelihood of young people dying in a crash that was alcohol-related. Policies included laws relating to alcohol taxes, alcohol availability and hours of sales, and graduated driver’s licensing for young people, among many others.

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Cannabis Use Linked To Early Drinking and Alcohol Problems

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kathleen K. Bucholz, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis MO 63110-1547

Dr. Kathleen Bucholz

Kathleen K. Bucholz, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis MO 63110-1547

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We know that development of alcohol use disorder progresses through several stages of alcohol use, from beginning to drink, to engaging in problem drinking, and then to developing alcohol use disorder, but we don’t know whether the same factors are associated with each step in this progression. Stage-specific associations have implications for prevention, where targeting certain characteristics might stave off progression to the next level of alcohol involvement, potentially. That is what this particular study set out to investigate.

The data were from nearly 3600 adolescents and young adults, the majority of whom came from families with alcohol use disorder in their relatives. Thus, this sample was enriched with individuals who were at high risk for progressing to more severe stages of alcohol involvement. In studying the associations at each stage, we strengthened our analysis by defining wherever possible variables as risk factors only if they occurred before or at the same age as the particular alcohol stage. For example, we counted cannabis use as a risk factor for starting to drink only if it either preceded or occurred at the same age as taking the first drink. With this definition, we can infer that a particular factor is antecedent and not simply a correlated influence.

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More Than Moderate Alcohol Not Good For The Heart

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gregory M Marcus, MD, MAS, FACC, FAHA, FHRS Director of Clinical Research Division of Cardiology Endowed Professor of Atrial Fibrillation Research University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Gregory M Marcus

Gregory M Marcus, MD, MAS, FACC, FAHA, FHRS
Director of Clinical Research
Division of Cardiology
Endowed Professor of Atrial Fibrillation Research
University of California, San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Moderate alcohol consumption has previously been associated with a decreased risk of heart attack. However, as we have previously shown that individuals who believe alcohol to be good for the heart tend to drink more, there is a concern that these previous data might appear to justify excessive alcohol consumption.

In addition, previous research on the topic of alcohol consumption and heart disease has relied almost entirely on participant self-report, which is known to be particularly unreliable among heavy drinkers. Finally, previous research has sought to study relationships between alcohol and various types of heart disease, but there has not been an emphasis on individual-level characteristics that might influence these relationships.
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CT Angiography Study Finds No Association Between Alcohol and Coronary Artery Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Pál Maurovich-Horvat MD, PhD, MPH, FSCCT

Assistant Professor of Cardiology
Director of the MTA-SE Cardiovascular Imaging Research Group
Heart and Vascular Center, Semmelweis University
Budapest, Hungary

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Several studies have been published on alcohol consumption and its association with the presence of coronary artery disease, however the data remains controversial. Some studies suggested that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of heart disease and others found no protective effect.

Our study is the first investigation that aims to assess the effect of alcohol on the coronary arteries using coronary CT angiography. We found no association between regular alcohol consumption and the presence of coronary disease.

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DNA Markers May Differentiate Heavy From Light Alcohol Users

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chunyu Liu, PhD
The Population Sciences Branch, Division of Intramural Research
The Framingham Heart Study, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Framingham, MA
Department of Biostatistics
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston, MA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to many diseases as well as to injuries and deaths. The lack of reliable measures of alcohol intake is a major obstacle to the diagnosis and treatment of alcohol-related diseases. Our study has identified a group of DNA markers in blood that could provide the basis for a reliable blood test to detect heavy alcohol use.

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Men and Women Now Drink About Same Amount of Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tim Slade, PhD Associate Professor National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales

Prof. Tim Slade

Tim Slade, PhD
Associate Professor
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
University of New South Wales

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Historically, men have been more likely to drink alcohol than women and to drink in quantities that damage their health. However, evidence points to a significant shift in the drinking landscape with rates of alcohol use converging among men and women born in more recent times. In a bid to quantify this trend over time, we pooled data from 68 published research studies in 36 countries around the world. We looked at how the ratio of men’s to women’s alcohol use differed for people born in different time periods and found that the gap between the sexes consistently narrowed over the past 100 years or so. For example, among cohorts born in the early 1900s men were just over two times more likely than women to drink alcohol. Among cohorts born in the late 1900s this ratio had decreased to almost one meaning that men’s and women’s drinking rates have reached parity.

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Alcohol and Cannabis Abuse Linked To Increased Risk of Schizophrenia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Stine Mai Nielsen

Copenhagen University Hospital
Mental Health Center Copenhagen
Gentofte, Denmark

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Several studies have tested whether use of substances can cause schizophrenia. However due to methodological limitations in the existing literature, uncertainties still remains. We aimed to investigate the association between several types of substance abuses and the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. We did a nationwide, prospective cohort study using the detailed Danish registers, which enabled us to address some of the limitations from prior findings. Our cohort consisted of more than 3.13 mio. individuals, that we were able to follow up for more than 104 mio. years at risk. We found that dealing with a substance abuse increased the overall risk of developing schizophrenia by 6 times, with abuse of cannabis and alcohol presenting the highest associations (5 and 3 times increased risk). The risk was found to be significant even 10-15 years prior to a diagnosis of substance abuse.

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New Drug Blocks Frequency of Drinking Alcohol, But Not Amount Once Drinking Starts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan Ryan M.B.A. Clinical Program Director, DMD Technology Development Coordinator National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD

Megan Ryan

Megan Ryan M.B.A.
Clinical Program Director, DMD
Technology Development Coordinator
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been linked to the dysregulation of the brain stress systems (e.g. corticotropin-releasing factor, glucocorticoids, and vasopressin) creating a negative emotional state leading to chronic relapsing behavior. Several pre-clinical studies have shown that by blocking the V1b receptor with a V1b receptor antagonist, dependence induced compulsive-like alcohol intake is also blocked. This is the first multi-site trial to assess the efficacy of the V1b receptor antagonist novel compound (ABT-436) for the treatment of alcohol dependence.

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Children Who Experience Early Parental Absence More Likely To Smoke or Drink Before Age 11

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Rebecca Lacey, PhD Research Associate Epidemiology & Public Health Institute of Epidemiology & Health Faculty of Pop Health Sciences University College London

Dr. Rebecca Lacey

Dr Rebecca Lacey, PhD
Research Associate
Epidemiology & Public Health
Institute of Epidemiology & Health
Faculty of Pop Health Sciences
University College London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We know from previous research that children who experience parental absence, whether due to death, divorce or some other reason, are more likely, on average, to have poorer health in later life. This includes being more likely to smoke and drink as an adult. However, what we didn’t know before we conducted our study was whether children who experienced parental absence were more likely to engage in the early uptake of risky health behaviours in childhood. This is what we looked at in our study.

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Need for Congruent Treatment Goals Between Alcohol-Dependent Patients and Caregivers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kristina J. Berglund Department of Psychology University of Gothenburg

Dr. Kristina J. Berglund

Kristina J. Berglund
Department of Psychology
University of Gothenburg

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In Sweden, care providers do offer different treatment strategies for individuals who have alcohol problems, where some offer a treatment where the goal is abstinence and other offer a treatment where the goal is low-risk consumption. We wanted to investigate how important it was for having a successful treatment when there was congruence between the patient’s goals and the advocated goal of the treatment, and when there was not.

The main findings was that that if the patient had a goal of abstinence than it was much more likely to reach that goal if the patient went to a treatment that advocated abstinence. It was less likely to reach the goal if a patient had a goal of low-risk consumption and went to a treatment that advocated low-risk consumption. The treatment that advocated abstinence was also more effective when the patient were ambivalent of his/her own goal.

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Large Proportion of Pregnant Women Use Alcohol and Tobacco in First Trimester

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Qiana L. Brown, PhD, MPH, LCSW Postdoctoral Research Fellow Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Progra

Dr. Qiana Brown

Dr. Qiana L. Brown, PhD, MPH, LCSW
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Columbia University
Mailman School of Public Health
Department of Epidemiology
Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Program

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Brown: Prenatal substance use is a major public health concern, and poses significant threats to maternal and child health. Tobacco and alcohol are the most commonly used substances among pregnant women and non-pregnant women of reproductive age, and are leading causes of preventable adverse health outcomes for both mother and baby. Women with health insurance have more prenatal visits, and present for prenatal care earlier than uninsured women, which may increase their exposure to health messaging around substance abuse prevention at prenatal visits. Additionally, treatment for substance use disorders and maternal and child health care are part of the Essential Health Benefits covered by the Affordable Care Act, which may encourage patients and providers to engage in discussions around alcohol and tobacco use prevention during pregnancy.

Given these factors, we examined the relationship between health insurance coverage and both past month tobacco use and past month alcohol use among a nationally representative sample of reproductive age women in the United States. We sampled 97,788 women ages 12 to 44 years old who participated in the U.S. National Survey of Drug Use and Health in 2010 to 2014. Among these women, 3.28% (n=3,267) were pregnant. We specifically investigated whether the relationship between health insurance and alcohol or tobacco use differed between pregnant and non-pregnant women.
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Moderate Alcohol May Impair Short Term Memory In Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jeff Boissoneault, PhD Research Assistant Professor Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health Department of Clinical and Health Psychology University of FloridaJeff Boissoneault, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
University of Florida

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many older adults are regular moderate drinkers. Although moderate drinking is considered to be a low risk behavior, growing evidence suggests older adults may be more susceptible to the cognitive and behavioral effects of moderate alcohol intake than younger people. We have previously shown that blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit for driving in the United States, 0.08 g/dL, affect working, or short-term, memory performance in older but not younger adults. For this study, we examined frontal theta power (FTP) and posterior alpha power (PAP), which are electrophysiological measures of brain activity associated with cognitive effort and maintenance of visual information, during a working memory task in both older and younger social drinkers.

We found that during a nine-second delay period during which participants held briefly-displayed images in memory, moderate alcohol intake increased PAP in younger adults but decreased PAP in older adults. Examining the relationship between PAP and behavioral performance (accuracy and reaction time) suggested older adults may attempt to compensate for moderate alcohol-induced working memory impairment by prioritizing quick responding over the protection of their mental representation of the task images from environmental distractions. Younger adults did not show this effect.

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Specific Type of Brain Neurons Control Excessive Alcohol Intake

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:,

Jun Wang, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (TAMU/TAMHSC) TAMHSC COLLEGE OF MEDICINE Bryan, TX 77807

Dr. Jun Wang

Jun Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (TAMU/TAMHSC)
TAMHSC COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Bryan, TX 77807

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Alcohol use disorder is a big problem for our society and only a limited number of medicine is available. We hope to find more treatment in animal models of alcoholism.

A group of neurons containing dopamine D2 receptors in the brain prevent us from drinking alcohol heavily.

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Alcohol: Better for Heart Attacks, Worse for Atrial Fibrillation?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Gregory M. Marcus MD Associate Professor UCSF School of Medicine

Dr. Gregory Marcus

Gregory M Marcus, MD, MAS, FACC, FAHA, FHRS
Director of Clinical Research
Division of Cardiology
Endowed Professor of Atrial Fibrillation Research
University of California, San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Multiple epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that alcohol consumption likely increases the risk for atrial fibrillation and reduces the risk for myocardial infarction. However, the results have been conflicting, they generally all rely on self-report of alcohol consumption (which is known to be unreliable, particularly in those that drink more heavily), and there is almost certainly confounding related to an individual’s choice to consume alcohol (which in most settings is ubiquitously available). In addition, the relationship between alcohol and heart failure remains poorly understood, with evidence suggesting there may be both harmful and beneficial effects. Finally, the relationship between alcohol consumption and these various cardiovascular diseases (atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, and heart failure) have not been examined within the same cohort of individuals in a simultaneous fashion.

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Moderate Alcohol Consumption Reduces Risk of Diabetes by 28%

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ken C. Chiu, MD, FACE, FACP Professor Endocrinology Fellowship Training Program Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute City of Hope National Medical Center Duarte, CA 91010-3000

Dr. Ken C. Chiu

Ken C. Chiu, MD, FACE, FACP
Professor
Endocrinology Fellowship Training Program
Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism
Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute
City of Hope National Medical Center
Duarte, CA 91010-3000 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Chiu: The benefit of moderate alcohol consumption is well established in cardiovascular disease. However, the role of alcohol consumption in type 2 diabetes is less clear. We examined the role of alcohol consumption in type 2 diabetes using the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-1012, which is a representative US population. In the rare alcohol consumption group (< 12 drinks per year), 24.04% were diabetic while only 14.67% were diabetic in the moderate alcohol consumption (1-4 drinks per day) group (P><0.000001). In contrast, 21.05% were diabetic in the heavy alcohol consumption (≥ 5 drinks/day) group (P=0.003) when compared to the rare alcohol consumption group. Thus, in compared to the rare alcohol consumption, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of diabetes (OR: 0.72; 95%CI: 0.65-0.79) after adjustment for co-variates, while there was no benefit from heavy alcohol consumption (OR: 0.97; 95%CI: 0.90-1.05). Our study demonstrates that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of diabetes by 28%.

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Alcohol May Undo the Therapeutic Benefit of Tamoxifen in Breast Cancer

Chin-Yo Lin, Ph.D. University of Houston Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling Department of Biology and Biochemistry Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) 3517 Cullen Blvd, Rm 3018 Houston, TX 77204-5056

Dr. Chin Yo Lin

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chin-Yo Lin, Ph.D.

University of Houston
Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling
Department of Biology and Biochemistry
Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC)
Houston, TX 77204-5056 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lin: Many studies have established that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for breast cancer. Breast cancers associated with drinking tend to be hormone receptor-positive, the type is commonly treated with the drug tamoxifen which blocks the actions of estrogen in driving tumor growth in pre-menopausal women. Alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase the risk of disease recurrence in patients. Our study shows that alcohol can enhance the effects of estrogen by increasing cancer cell division and also reduce the efficacy of tamoxifen. The key mechanistic insight from the study is that alcohol treatment of breast cancer cells increased the expression of BRAF, a cancer-causing gene that is commonly mutated and activated in other types of cancers.

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Poor Sleep Linked to Cognitive Issues in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology NYU Langone Medical Center Senior Research Scientist Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Dr. Donald Wilson

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D.
Professor, Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology
NYU Langone Medical Center
Senior Research Scientist
Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wilson: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterized by cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems that are life-long.  Generally, it is assumed that the initial trauma of alcohol exposure at a critical time in life is the cause of these problems.  In this study using an animal model of FASD, we find that developmental alcohol causes a life-long disturbance in sleep.  Given that sleep is important for memory and emotion, among other things, this suggests that developmental alcohol can produce a daily insult to the brain, far outlasting that initial exposure.  Each night, the brain is unable to store memories, adjust emotional circuits, remove waste products, in the way that it should, because FASD has disrupted sleep.

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Beer Belly: Drinking Alcohol Leads to More Calories and Weight Gain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Francis Tayie, PhD, MPhil, MS. BSc(HONS) Food, Nutrition and Dietetics Department of Human Environmental Studies Southeast Missouri State University

Dr. Francis Tayie

Francis Tayie, PhD, MPhil, MS. BSc(HONS)
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Department of Human Environmental Studies
Southeast Missouri State University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Tayie: This article which is the first report to show a positive link between alcoholic beverage consumption and increased moisture intake, also reports increases in calorie intake above what is supplied by alcohol, as well as increased body weight status. The general view is that alcoholic beverages do not contribute to moisture intake. This view is generally due to the diuretic effect of the ethanol in alcoholic beverages, specifically depression of vasopressin resulting in increased loss of moisture via the kidneys. Nevertheless, much of the water in alcoholic beverages, especially in light drinks such as beer and wine may be retained, as indicated in this study.

Alcoholic calories count!! The view that alcoholic beverages do not contribute calories to the intake of drinkers is largely debatable. Most of the confusion results from the complex metabolism of the ethanol in alcoholic beverages. Metabolism of ethanol utilizes specific metabolic pathways different from the metabolism of macronutrients.
Notably, the

  • 1) alcohol dehydrogenase system,
  • 2) MEOS (microsomal ethanol oxidizing system),
  • and 3) the catalase system.These metabolic systems variably yield some calories but some calories are lost as body heat. It is likely that all of these pathways are not activated simultaneously, and their activities depends on drinking experience. Some calories become available via the alcohol dehydrogenase system, and to a lesser extent via the MEOS. In addition, alcoholic beverage consumption associates with decreased self-restraint, one consequence of which is increased food intake. The promoting effects of alcohol on food intake is multipronged, from social components, to alterations in the effects of appetite regulating neuropeptides.

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Alcohol Impaired Driving Crimes Rise Right After Legal Drinking Age Reached

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Russ Callaghan, PhD Associate Professor Northern Medical Program University of Northern British Columbia Prince George, British Columbia

Dr. Russ Callaghan

Dr. Russ Callaghan, PhD
Associate Professor
Northern Medical Program
University of Northern British Columbia
Prince George, British Columbia 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Callaghan: In Canada, the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) is 18 years in Alberta, Manitoba and Québec, and 19 in the rest of the country. Given that public-health organizations not only have recommended increasing the MLDA to 19 years, but also have identified 21 years as ideal, the current study tested whether drivers slightly older than the MLDA had significant and abrupt increases in alcohol-impaired driving (AID) crimes, compared with their counterparts just younger than the MLDA. Data on the effectiveness of Canadian drinking-age laws is lacking, and the current study provides important information for the current national and international MLDA debates.

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Beyoncé, Pitbull, Feature Alcohol in Music Videos Aimed at Young People

Dr Joanne Cranwell PhD, CPsychol The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) School of Medicine Division of Epidemiology & Public Health Clinical Sciences Building University of Nottingham City Hospital Nottingham

Dr. Joanne Cranwell

More on Alcohol on MedicalResearch.com

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Joanne Cranwell PhD, CPsychol
The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies 
School of Medicine
Division of Epidemiology & Public Health
Clinical Sciences Building
University of Nottingham

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Cranwell: We conducted this particular study because it is well established that adolescent exposure to alcohol and tobacco in the media, such as film, television, and paid for advertising are determinants of subsequent alcohol and tobacco use in young people. The extent of potential exposure has been transformed over the past decade by the emergence of social media, in which exposure to pro-tobacco content has also been linked to favourable attitudes towards tobacco, including intention to smoke, in young non-smokers.

Our previous published research highlighted that popular YouTube music videos contain tobacco and substantial alcohol content, including branding. Alcohol advertising is largely self-regulated by the alcohol industry and the Portman Group who speaks on behalf of the UK drinks industry.   The Advertising Standards Authority also provides guidance on marketing of alcohol products in the UK. Broadly speaking the guidelines from these three regulators state that “Marketing communications for alcoholic drinks should not be targeted at people under 18 and should not imply, condone or encourage immoderate, irresponsible or anti-social drinking”. However the extent to which adults and adolescents are exposed to tobacco or alcohol content from YouTube at a population level has not been quantified. In this new study we have therefore estimated population exposure to tobacco and alcohol impressions, defined as appearances in 10-second intervals in a sample of popular videos, in the British adolescent and adult population.

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Linked to 400 Comorbid Conditions

Svetlana Popova, M.D., Ph.Ds., M.P.H. Senior Scientist Social and Epidemiological Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Associate Professor, Epidemiology Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto Associate Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto Graduate Faculty Associate Member, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toron

Dr. Svetlana Popova

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Svetlana Popova, M.D., Ph.Ds., M.P.H.
Senior Scientist
Social and Epidemiological Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Associate Professor, Epidemiology Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Associate Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
Graduate Faculty Associate Member, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Popova: It has been known for many years that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with a number of adverse health consequences for both the mother and developing fetus. Women who consume alcohol during pregnancy place their child(ren) at risk of developing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), and can experience a number of other adverse pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, premature birth, intrauterine growth retardation, and low birth weight. It was also previously known that people with FASD have many comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two or more chronic diseases or conditions in a patient) due to the permanent damage of prenatal alcohol exposure on the fetus. However, until now it was unknown how many and what type of diseases, and at what frequencies they occur. Therefore, we reviewed the medical and epidemiological literature to identify the disease conditions that have been found to occur in people with FASD. Then based on the identified studies we estimated the pooled (combined) prevalence of the comorbid conditions found to occur among individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS; the most severe and visibly identifiable form of FASD). We restricted our analysis to FAS because it is the only expression of FASD in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, version 10 (ICD-10).

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Alcohol Involved in Half of Recreational Poisonings

Kate Chitty PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Sydney Medical School School of Medical Sciences Pharmacology The University of Sydney

Dr. Kate Chitty

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kate Chitty PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Sydney Medical School
School of Medical Sciences
Pharmacology
The University of Sydney 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Chitty: Recreational poisonings, defined here as poisonings that occur as a result of using alcohol and/or illicit or prescribed drugs for recreational purposes or to induce acute rewarding psychoactive effects, represent a significant and potentially lethal form of harm attributed to drug use. There is limited information on hospital admissions for recreational poisonings separately from all hospital admissions for drug harms, despite a surge in overdose occurring at youth events. Identifying trends in recreational poisoning will enable better planning of drug and alcohol services and government initiatives to reduce harms and consequences associated with drug and alcohol use.

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No High-Grade Evidence Supporting Nalmefene For Alcohol Dependency

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Florian Naudet
INSERM Centre d’Investigation Clinique 1414
Faculté de Médecine, Centre Hospitalier
Universitaire de Rennes
Laboratoire de Pharmacologie Expérimentale et Clinique
Rennes, France

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Naudet: To reduce harm, alcohol-dependent individuals are usually advised to abstain from drinking, but controlled (moderate) drinking may also be helpful. To help people reduce their alcohol consumption, the European Medicines Agency recently approved nalmefene for use in the treatment of alcohol dependence in adults who consume more than 60 g (for men) or 40 g (for women) of alcohol per day. However, several expert bodies have concluded that nalmefene shows no benefit over naltrexone, an older treatment for alcohol dependency, and do not recommend its use for this indication.

This is problematic because randomised controlled trials (RCTs) should lead to objective conclusions concerning treatment efficacy and this was not the case concerning nalmefene’s approval.

We therefore performed a meta-analysis of aggregated data to enable an objective reappraisal of the efficacy of nalmefene for relevant health outcomes and on alcohol consumption endpoints at both 6 months (+/- 1 month) and 1 year (+/- 1 month).

We identified five RCTs that met the criteria for inclusion in our study. All five RCTs (which involved 2,567 participants) compared the effects of nalmefene with a placebo; none was undertaken in the population specified by the European Medicines Agency approval. Among the health outcomes examined in the meta-analysis, there were no differences between participants taking nalmefene and those taking placebo in mortality (death) after six months or one year of treatment, in the quality of life at six months. The RCTs included in the meta-analysis did not report other health outcomes. Participants taking nalmefene had fewer heavy drinking days per month at six months and one year of treatment than participants taking placebo, and their total alcohol consumption was lower. These differences were small in terms of clinical significance. Additionally, more people withdrew from the nalmefene groups than from the placebo groups, often for safety reasons. Thus, attrition bias cannot be excluded.

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Moderate Alcohol Use Linked To Lower Mortality in Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Chia-Yu Chu

Dr. Frans Boch Waldorff

Professor, Frans Boch Waldorff
General Practitioner
Research Unit of General Practice
Denmark

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Waldorff: While there are numerous studies focusing on alcohol as a risk factor for dementia and mortality in healthy subjects, virtually no attention has been paid to the effect of alcohol consumption in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Considering that AD is a neurodegenerative disorder and that alcohol has known neurotoxic effects, one could easily jump to the conclusion that alcohol is damaging for patients with AD. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the positive association between moderate alcohol intake and mortality shown in population-based studies on healthy subjects can be transferred to patients with mild AD.

In our study we found that patients with mild  Alzheimer’s disease , moderate alcohol consumption (two to three units per day) was associated with a significantly lower risk of death compared with those who only had alcohol occasionally (one or less than one unit per day), and with those who had high alcohol intake (more than 3 units per day). Abstinence or high alcohol intake did not significantly raise mortality compared with those drinking only occasionally.

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Prenatal Exposure To Alcohol and Pot Have Different Effects on Visual Cortex

Professor Benjamin Thompson PhD School of Optometry and Vision Science Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario Canada

Dr. Thompson

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Benjamin Thompson PhD
School of Optometry and Vision Science
Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Thompson: Our investigation was part of the longitudinal Infant Development and Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study that was designed to investigate the effect of prenatal methamphetamine exposure on neurodevelopment. Although the negative impact of prenatal drug exposure on a wide range of neurodevelopmental outcomes such cognitive and motor function is established, the effect on vision is not well understood. To address this issue, vision testing was conducted when children in the New Zealand arm of the IDEAL study turned four and half years of age.

Although the primary focus of the IDEAL study was the impact of methamphetamine on neurodevelopment, the majority of children enrolled in the study were exposed to a range of different drugs prenatally including marijuana, nicotine and alcohol. Many children were exposed to multiple drugs. This allowed us to investigate the impact of individual drugs and their combination on the children’s visual development.

Alongside standard clinical vision tests such as visual acuity (the ‘sharpness’ of vision) and stereopsis (3D vision), we also tested the children’s ability to process complex moving patterns. This test, known as global motion perception, targets a specific network of higher-level visual areas in the brain that are thought to be particularly vulnerable to neurodevelopmental risk factors.

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Younger Women Drinking More Like Men

Aaron White, PhD Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director Office of the Director National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD

Dr. Aaron White

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aaron White, PhD
Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director
Office of the Director
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. White: Recent studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that alcohol use by women in the United States might be on the rise and that long-standing gender gaps in drinking and related consequences might be narrowing. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we found that differences in the drinking patterns of females and males ages 12+ narrowed between 2002 and 2012 for current drinking (drinking at least once in the last 30 days), number of drinking days per month, past year DSM-IV alcohol abuse, and past-year driving under the influence of alcohol. For instance, the percentage of women who drank in the previous 30 days rose from 44% to 48%, while for men the percentage decreased from 57% to 56%. Average drinking days per month increased for women from 6.8 to 7.3 days, but dropped for males from 9.9 to 9.5 days. Driving under the influence (DUI) declined for both, but less so for females (from 10.3% to 7.9%) than males (from 19.0% to 14.4%), thereby narrowing the gender gap for DUI. Analyses revealed additional changes within specific age groups in the population.

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Why do “Smokers Drink and Drinkers Smoke” ?

Mahesh Thakkar, Ph.D. Associate professor and director of research School of Medicine's Department of Neurology Missouri University

Dr. Thakkar

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mahesh Thakkar, Ph.D.
Associate professor and director of research
School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology
Missouri University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Thakkar: It is well known that “smokers drink and drinkers smoke.” The question is why. In our previous research, we had observed that alcohol promotes sleepiness by inhibiting the brain region known as the basal forebrain. So we asked, “Does nicotine override alcohol-induced inhibition and activate the basal forebrain?” This study was performed to address these questions. The main finding of this study is that nicotine, when co-used with alcohol, attenuates alcohol-induced sleepiness by overriding alcohol-induced inhibition of the basal forebrain region.

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Is It Really Safer For Teens To Drink Alcohol At Home?

Heather Fay, MHS Program Services FCD Educational Services Newton, MA

Heather Fay MHS

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Heather Fay, MHS

Program Services
FCD Educational Services
Newton, MA

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study was conducted by FCD Prevention Works, an international non-profit focused on school-based, substance abuse prevention. Using FCD’s database of over 50,000 6th-12th grade student survey responses, we sought to explore the relationship between parental permission of student substance use and negative consequences related to substance use.

We compared student alcohol and other drug use in the home, with or without a parent’s knowledge, to students’ self-reported negative consequences related to their own alcohol use. As might be expected, students who used alcohol or other drugs at home without their parents knowing were more likely to report negative consequences in the past 12 months related to their alcohol own use. Students who used at home with their parents knowing were protected against some negative consequences. These students were less likely than students who did not report this behavior to feel guilty about their drinking or regret something they did while drinking. However, these same students were at an increased risk of experiencing negative consequences related to addiction. These consequences included those which are indicative of a mounting dependency on alcohol, such as needing a drink or other drug first thing in the morning, using alcohol or other drugs alone, passing out because of drinking, and getting hurt or injured as a direct result of their alcohol use.

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Young Girls Abuse Alcohol More With Lack of Parental Supervision

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Daniel J. Dickson, M.A. Graduate Student and
Brett Laursen PhD
Department of Psychology
Florida Atlantic University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: With age, adolescents spend more time with peers, and engage in drinking behaviors at increasing levels. In particular, girls who reach puberty at earlier ages than their peers are at higher risk for abusing alcohol. This may be because early maturing girls seek out the company of older more mature peers, ​who have greater access to alcohol and (in the case of those prone to delinquency) may be more welcoming to younger girls who are having difficulties with agemates.

Our study investigates the association between changes in parental autonomy granting and girls’ alcohol abuse over a three year period (ages 13-16), as a function of timing of pubertal maturation.

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Alcohol Linked To Increased Basal Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Risk

Shaowei Wu, MD, PhD Department of Dermatology, Warren Alpert Medical School Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island Department of Dermatology Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Shaowei Wu

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Shaowei WuMDPhD
Department of Dermatology, Warren Alpert Medical School
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Department of Dermatology
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin is the most prevalent cancer in the US, and is responsible for substantial morbidity and billions of dollars of health care expenditures. Knowledge on the modifiable risk factors of BCC is required for targeted prevention of cancer incidence. Alcohol consumption is a well-known risk factor for human cancer and has been linked to a number of cancers, including breast, prostate, pancreatic, and colon cancers. Interestingly, a large epidemiological study has reported a positive association between alcohol consumption and increased prevalence of severe sunburn, an established skin cancer risk factor. It is hypothesized that metabolites of alcohol (e.g., acetaldehyde) can serve as photosensitizers and promote skin carcinogenicity in the presence of UV radiation. However, epidemiological evidence for the association between alcohol consumption and BCC risk has been limited and a few previous studies on this topic have yielded conflicting results. Therefore we conducted a comprehensive prospective study to investigate this question using data from three large cohorts including the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2010), Nurses’ Health Study II (1989-2011), and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2010).

We documented a total of 28,951 incident Basal cell carcinoma cases over the study follow-up. We found that increasing alcohol intake was associated with an increased Basal cell carcinoma risk in both women and men. In the combined analysis with all 3 cohorts, those who consumed 30 grams or more alcohol per day had a 22% higher risk of developing BCC when compared to nondrinkers. This increased risk was consistent in people with different levels of sun exposure. We also found that BCC risk was associated with alcohol intake levels more than a decade ago, suggesting that alcohol may have a lagged effect that can persist for a long-term period. Among the individual alcoholic beverages, white wine and liquor were positively associated with Basal cell carcinoma risk whereas red wine and beer were not associated with BCC risk. This difference may be due to some other chemicals accompanying alcohol in the specific beverages. For example, red wine contains higher amounts of phenolic compounds compared to white wine, and these compounds have antioxidant activities which may be beneficial for counteracting the potential carcinogenic properties of alcohol and its metabolites.

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3% of Pregnant Women Still Binge Drink

Cheryl H. Tan, M.P.H. Epidemiologist and lead author of the study National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities CDCMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Cheryl H. Tan, M.P.H.

Epidemiologist and lead author of the study
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
CDC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: One in 10 pregnant women in the United States aged 18 to 44 years reports drinking alcohol in the past 30 days and 3.1 percent of pregnant women report binge drinking – defined as 4 or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion. That means about a third of pregnant women who consume alcohol engage in binge drinking.

This is concerning because women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant should avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol use during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of birth defects and developmental disabilities in babies, as well as other pregnancy problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and prematurity.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These conditions include physical problems, behavioral problems, and leaning disabilities. FASDs are completely preventable: if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy, her child has zero risk of an FASD.

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Alcohol May Decrease Heart Attacks But Increase Cancer Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Andrew Smyth PhD
Population Health Research Institute,
McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences
Hamilton, ON, Canada

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr Smyth: Alcohol consumption is proposed to be the third most important modifiable risk factor for death and disability. However, alcohol consumption has been associated with both benefits and harms and previous studies were mostly done in high income countries. In this study we explored the associations between alcohol consumption and clinical outcomes in a prospective cohort study of 12 countries from different economic levels. Over an average of four years of follow-up of almost 115,000 participants, we found that although current drinking was associated with a 24% reduction in risk of heart attack, there was no reduction in the risk of death or stroke, and there was a 51% increase in risk of alcohol-related cancers (mouth, oesophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, breast, ovary and head and neck) and a 29% increase in risk of injury. For a combination of all outcomes, we found no overall benefit from current alcohol use. We also found differences between countries of different income levels: for higher income countries current drinking was associated with a 16% reduction in risk of the combined outcome, but in lower income countries there was a 38% increase in risk.

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Neurons In Brain Most Affected by Alcohol Identified

Dr. Jun Wang MD PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience Texas A&M College of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jun Wang MD PhD, Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience
Texas A&M College of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Wang: Alcohol use disorder is a very common disease, but the mechanism is not clear and the treatment is limited.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Wang: We have three findings in an animal model of alcoholism:

  1. Alcohol drinking changes brain cells (also called neurons), making them more excitable.
  2. The change occurs only in a group of neuron called D1-neurons.
  3. Suppressing D1-neurons in a sub-region of the brain reduces excessive alcohol intake.

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Light To Moderate Drinking Increases Cancer Risk in Women

Dr. Yin Cao MPH, ScD Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Nutrition Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Yin Cao MPH, ScD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Nutrition
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cao: Light-to-moderate drinking, defined as up to 1 drink (roughly corresponds to a 355ml bottle of beer, or a small [118-148 ml] glass of wine or 44ml of liquor) for women and up to 2 drinks for men, is prevalent in many western countries. It is believed that light-to-moderate drinking may be healthy for the heart. However, the influence of light-to-moderate drinking on risk of overall cancer is less clear, although it is well known that heavy alcohol intake increases risk of several cancers, including cancers of colorectum, female breast, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver, and esophagus.

Also because drinkers are more likely to be smokers, and smoking is the major risk factor for all of the alcohol-related cancers (mentioned above) except breast cancer, it is thus difficult to tease out the influence of alcohol on cancer in studies among a mixed population of ever and never smokers. In particular, it is important to know how light and moderate drinking would affect cancer risk particularly among never smokers, who now make up the majority of the population in many western countries.

Our main findings are that, light-to-moderate drinking minimally increases risk of overall cancerFor men, the association with alcohol related cancers was primarily observed among smokers, and light to moderate drinking did not appreciably increase risk in never smokers. Among women, even consumption of up to one drink per day was associated with increased risk of alcohol-related cancers (mainly breast cancer) for both never and ever smokers.

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Women May Be More Susceptible To Toxic Effects Of Alcohol On Heart

Alexandra Gonçalves, MD, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Cardiovascular Department Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02115MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alexandra Gonçalves, MD, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Cardiovascular Department
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, MA 02115


MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Gonçalves: Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with alcoholic cardiomyopathy, while light to moderate drinking might have benefits in the risk of heart failure (HF). However, the cardiovascular mechanisms and the alcohol dosage associated with risks or potential benefits are uncertain. Furthermore, the variation in the toxic and protective effects of alcohol by sex remains controversial, as women may be more sensitive than men to the toxic effects of alcohol on cardiac function, developing alcoholic cardiomyopathy at a lower total lifetime dose of alcohol compared to men. In this study we assessed the associations between alcohol intake and cardiac structure and function by echocardiography, in elderly men and women in the large, community-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Gonçalves: We studied 4466 participants (76±5 years and 60% women) with alcohol consumption ascertained, who underwent transthoracic echocardiography. Participants were classified into 4 categories based on self-reported alcohol intake: non-drinkers, drinkers of up to 7 drinks per week, ≥7 to 14 and ≥ 14 drinks per week. In both genders, increasing alcohol intake was associated with larger left ventricular (LV) diastolic and systolic diameters and larger left atrial diameter. In men, increasing alcohol intake was associated with greater LV mass and higher E/E’ ratio. In women, increasing alcohol intake was associated with lower LV ejection fraction. Continue reading

A Neuronal Protein Keeps Alcohol Binge Drinking In Check

Interview of Candice Contet, Ph.D. Assistant Professor The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CAMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Interview of Candice Contet, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Contet: Alcohol changes the activity of numerous proteins in the brain. One of them is an ion channel found in neurons, the G-protein activated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channel. It is however unknown whether the ability of alcohol to open GIRK channels matters for its effects in vivo, i.e. how tipsy we feel or how motivated we are to drink alcohol. To address this question, we studied mice that are lacking one of the components of GIRK channels, the GIRK3 subunit. These mice behave normally in the absence of alcohol, and we sought to determine whether they respond differently to alcohol.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Dr. Contet: We found that the absence of GIRK3 did not impact how fast the mice clear alcohol from their body nor how sensitive they are to alcohol intoxication. Alcohol reduced their motor coordination, made them sleepy and lowered their body temperature to the same extent as in normal mice. GIRK3-deficient mice also drank as much alcohol as normal mice when they were given continuous access to alcohol, a situation in which mice sporadically drink throughout the day but rarely get intoxicated. By contrast, when mice are given access to alcohol only for a couple hours per day at a specific time of the day, they drink to the point of intoxication. Under these conditions, which emulate “binge drinking”, the GIRK3-deficient mice drank more than normal mice.

The next step was to locate the region of the brain responsible for the effect of GIRK3 on binge drinking. We turned our attention to the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic pathway, a neural circuit that facilitates reward seeking. This pathway originates in an area of the midbrain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and releases the neurotransmitter dopamine in two forebrain areas: the ventral striatum and the prefrontal cortex. Alcohol, like other drugs of abuse, activates this pathway. When we reintroduced GIRK3 in the VTA of GIRK3-deficient mice, their alcohol intake dropped down to normal levels. Increasing the levels of GIRK3 in the VTA of normal mice reduced their alcohol consumption even further. We concluded that GIRK3 in the VTA keeps binge drinking in check: the more GIRK3, the less binge drinking.

We then wanted to understand how GIRK3 controls binge drinking: do the GIRK3-deficient mice drink more because alcohol is more rewarding to them, or because more alcohol is needed for them to experience the same level of reward? To answer this question, we measured the activity of VTA neurons in brain slices. Alcohol usually make VTA neurons fire more – but in the absence of GIRK3, these neurons were completely insensitive to alcohol, even at a very high concentration. We also measured the levels of dopamine in the ventral striatum. Injecting mice with a moderate dose of alcohol usually causes a rise in dopamine levels – but again, GIRK3-deficient mice were completely unresponsive.

These results may seem paradoxical. If the canonical “reward pathway” of the brain cannot be activated by alcohol, these mice should not have any motivation to drink alcohol. But the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic pathway is not the only brain circuit responsible for the rewarding properties of alcohol, and we think that GIRK3-deficient mice end up drinking more alcohol to activate alternative circuits more strongly than normal mice would.

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Exposure To Alcohol In Early Pregnancy May Cause Lifelong Adult Brain Changes

Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola Ph.D. Department of Medical Genetics Faculty of Medicine University of Helsinki Helsinki, FinlandMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola Ph.D.
Department of Medical Genetics
Faculty of Medicine
University of Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Kaminen-Ahola: The beginning of embryonic development is vulnerable to the effects of  external influences and disruption of these processes can have
long-term effects on development. Our previous study demonstrated, for
the first time, that alcohol exposure in early pregnancy can cause
permanent changes to the epigenetic regulation, gene function and the
appearance of mouse offspring. We discovered increased
DNA-methylation, transcriptional silencing of an epigenetically
sensitive allele Agouti viable yellow (Avy) and darker coat colour in
the offspring. In this study we wanted to see whether alcohol consumed
in early pregnancy causes long-term changes to the epigenome and gene
expression in hippocampus.

According to previous studies the phenotype of offspring in this mouse
model is highly variable, but reminiscent of human FAS with growth
restriction, similar structural changes to corresponding areas of the
face and skull, and hyperactivity. In this study we wanted to
determine the impact of alcohol on the structures of the central
nervous system.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Kaminen-Ahola: We observed that early exposure to alcohol caused subtle changes in  the epigenome and altered the function of several genes in the
hippocampi of adolescent mice. We also detected alcohol-induced
alterations in the brain structure of adult offspring.

Interestingly, we also found out that in addition to hippocampus,
alcohol caused similar changes to gene function in two different
tissues of the infant mouse, bone marrow and the olfactory epithelium
of the snout.

These results support our hypothesis that early gestational ethanol
exposure alters the epigenetic reprogramming of the embryo, which
leads to alterations in gene regulation and embryonic development, and
causes life-long changes in brain structure, function, and behaviour.

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Mixing Alcohol With Energy Drinks Linked To Binge Drinking In Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer A. Emond, M.Sc., PhD
Research Instructor
Department of Epidemiology
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
Cancer Control Research Program
Lebanon, NH  03756

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Emond: Several studies have documented a link between consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks and an increased risk of negative outcomes while drinking, including binge drinking. It is known that mixing energy drinks with alcohol increases the risk for binge drinking–the high caffeine intake consumed when mixing energy drinks with alcohol may cause individuals to feel what is been called “wide-awake drunk,” and they may underestimate their level of intoxication. However, most studies to date have been conducted among undergraduate college students, and we wanted to know if those same associations were also observed among adolescents. In our study of 3,342 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-23, we also found a positive link between a history of consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks and abusive alcohol use. Specifically, 22.3% of participants had ever consumed an energy drink mixed with alcohol (including 9.7% of 15-17 year olds), and such a history of mixed use was associated with a more than 4-fold increased likelihood of engaging in binge drinking. Importantly, that association was just as strong among 15-17 year olds as it was among the older participants. One critical component of our study was that we also looked at a validated outcome for alcohol use disorder (i.e., the participants completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT]), and participants with a history of consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks were also 4.2 times more likely to meet that clinically defined criteria for alcohol use disorder as defined for adolescents. Again, those associations were observed for all participants, regardless of age.

Our study has limitations. It was cross-sectional, so we cannot prove that mixed use of alcohol and energy drinks causes abusive alcohol use behaviors. However, our study does support that mixed use of alcohol with energy drinks can identify adolescents at risk for alcohol abuse. Continue reading

Primary Care Residents Ill-Equiped To Screen For Binge Alcohol

Dr. Kristy Barnes Le MD Department of Internal Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine Winston-Salem, NCMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Kristy Barnes Le MD
Department of Internal Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Winston-Salem, NC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Because about 1 in 6 Americans binge drink, it is important that physicians know how to screen for at-risk drinking and be able to effectively address alcohol use with their patients.   Alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) has been shown to be an effective tool to detect and reduce hazardous alcohol use, but it has not yet gained wide acceptance in practice or in medical education.  We know that lack of confidence contributes to practicing physicians’ hesitancy to screen and intervene with at-risk drinkers, but this had not been studied in resident physicians.

We set out to determine how primary care resident physicians screen and intervene with their patients who drink, how they feel about discussing at-risk drinking, and what barriers they have to performing  Alcohol screening and brief intervention.

Our main findings are:

1.)  Resident physicians are using the wrong screening instruments at the wrong times, and are not adequately performing the brief intervention when they do detect hazardous drinking.

Less than 20% of residents in this study used screening instruments that are capable of detecting at-risk or binge drinking, while the remainder used instruments designed to detect alcohol use disorders.  And, only 17% screened for at-risk drinking at acute-care visits, where the consequences of binge drinking (such as injuries) are most likely to appear.  Additionally, when a brief intervention was performed, only a quarter of residents usually or always included the three recommended elements of feedback, advice, and goal-setting.

2.)  Resident physicians do not feel confident addressing at-risk drinking with their patients.

Only 21% felt they could help their patient with hazardous drinking cut down or stop using alcohol and only 17% felt they had been successful in doing so in the past.  Interestingly, U.S.-born residents and those reporting no religious affiliation were even more likely to express lack of confidence.

3.)  Lastly, residents report barriers that include lack of adequate training (53 %), the belief that talking with patients is unlikely to make a difference (44 %), and just being too busy (39%).  The hours of reported  Alcohol screening training did not vary with residency year, perhaps indicating that most of it was done prior to residency.

Clearly, the several hours they report getting (mean of 9.8 hours) is either not covering the right topics, or not teaching them in a way that leads to changes in practice. Continue reading

Personalized Advice May Help Risky Drinkers Reduce Alcohol

Sean M. Murphy, Ph.D. Assistant Professor  Department of Health Policy & Administration Washington State University MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sean M. Murphy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor  Department of Health Policy & Administration
Washington State University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Murphy: Professional healthcare advice regarding excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce demand in a controlled setting. However, success in a clinical trial isn’t always indicative of an intervention’s effectiveness in everyday use. Studies testing the effect of provider advice on alcohol demand in a non-controlled environment are few, and have failed to control for non-moderate drinkers.  Therefore, it is possible that the estimated effect of professional-health advice primarily reflected moderate-drinkers’ responses. The distinction between moderate and non-moderate drinkers is an important one, as society bears a large cost for those who consume above-moderate quantities, while moderate drinkers have been shown to be relatively productive and healthy. Excise taxes may not be efficient given that they impose negative externalities on moderate drinkers, while excessive drinkers have been shown to be relatively unresponsive to price increases. We found that personalized information from a healthcare professional was negatively associated with reported alcohol consumption among both “risky” and “binge” drinkers. Moreover, we found that personalized drinking advice may have an impact on those who are reluctant to state that they were given such advice.

Continue reading