Alcohol Accelerates Aging of Brain’s Frontal Cortex

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
alcohol-cdc-image
Edith V. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA 94305-5723 

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

Response: Alcohol misuse is a major public health problem worldwide with profound health consequences on the body, brain, and function. Our research group has conducted naturalistic yet controlled studies of alcohol dependence for several decades to further our understanding of when and how alcohol misuse affects specific parts of the brain.  In addition, we wanted to know how alcohol misuse interacts with the typical changes in the brain as we grow older.  The studies are controlled in that we recruit healthy, non-alcohol dependence men and women from the community to undergo the same screening and neuroimaging procedures as our alcoholic recruits.  The studies are quantitative because we use neuroimaging methods (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that enable us to measure specific regions of brain structural volumes.  Consistent collection of such data over the years positioned us to ask whether age and alcohol dependence interact to produce regional brain volume loss beyond the loss that occurs in normal aging.

A number of cross-sectional studies pointed to the likelihood that the effects of alcohol dependence on brain structure would be exacerbated by normal aging, which we do know from longitudinal neuroimaging studies results in shrinkage of cortical gray matter volume and thinning of the cortex. What was particularly striking about our longitudinal study of men and women with alcohol dependence was the acceleration of the aging of brain structure that was especially prominent in the frontal cortex.  Critically, even those who initiated dependent drinking at an older age showed accelerated loss.

Because our study sample was large enough, we could also test whether our findings were attributable to conditions that commonly co-occur with alcohol dependence, namely, illicit drug use and hepatitis C.  Although both drug use and hepatitis C infection may have exacerbated brain volume loss, these factors did not fully account for the alcoholism-aging interaction we identified.

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Wine Might Be Good For Dental Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Wine” by Uncalno Tekno is licensed under CC BY 2.0
M.Victoria Moreno-Arribas
Spanish National Research Council | CSIC 

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

Response: Recent discoveries indicate polyphenols might also promote health by actively interacting with bacteria in the gut. Also, the intake of specific polyphenol-rich beverages and foods helps the maintenance of digestive health and prevention of disease status. However, the knowledge of the effects of polyphenols in relation to the prevention of dental diseases is still at an early stage.

The use of antiseptics and/or antibiotics in the prevention and treatment of periodontal diseases can lead to unwanted effects. Therefore, there is a need to develop novel antimicrobial strategies useful for the prevention and management of these diseases. Oral epithelial cells normally constitute a physical barrier that prevents infections, but bacterial adhesion to host tissues constitutes a first key step in the infectious process.

With the final goal to elucidate the health properties of wine polyphenols at oral level, we studied their properties as an anti-adhesive therapy for periodontal and cariogenic prevention, as well as the combined action between wine polyphenols and oral probiotic strains in the management of microbial-derived oral diseases. In particular, we checked out the effect of two red wine polyphenols, as well as commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts, on bacteria that stick to teeth and gums and cause dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease. Also, oral metabolism of polyphenols, including both oral microbiota and human mucosa cells, was investigated.  Continue reading

What is the Biggest Modifiable Risk Factor For Dementia? Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“undefined” by Iñaki Queralt is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michaël Schwarzinger, MD, PhD

Translational Health Economics Network (THEN)
Paris

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

Response: The association of heavy drinking with dementia has been known for decades. For instance, there is about no Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome without heavy drinking and the syndrome was described in 1890. But this type of dementia is very rare. Also, heavy drinking is knowingly associated with multiple risk factors for dementia onset such as hypertension or diabetes. But heavy drinkers generally refuse to participate to cohort studies and declaration of alcohol use among participants is generally biased downward… So the study rationale is very strong, but supporting empirical evidence is quite scarce.

This nationwide study included all 31+ million adults discharged from hospitals over 6 years, i.e., 50% of the French population before 65 years old and 80% above that age. Of 1.1+ million adults diagnosed with dementia, one in twenty had an early-onset (before 65 years old). Heavy drinking was recorded in most (56%) early-onset dementia cases: two-third in men; one-third in women. In addition, the association of heavy drinking with dementia goes far beyond 65 years old, both directly (>3 times higher risk for dementia onset after controlling for more than 30 known risk factors for dementia) and indirectly as heavy drinking was associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset. Accordingly, heavy drinking had the largest effect on dementia risk of all independent modifiable risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes.

The effects were found whatever dementia case definition or population studies.

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Alcohol Doesn’t Cause Aggression By Simple Disinhibition

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol” by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY 2.0Thomas Denson PhD

University of New South Wales
Australia 

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

Response: Decades of research have shown that alcohol is a powerful psychotropic contributor to aggressive behaviour. Researchers have long suspected that alcohol increases aggression because it dampens activation in the prefrontal cortex, which leads to reduced inhibition, narrows attentional processing, and exaggerates hostile thinking. However, direct evidence has been lacking. We compared brain activity in intoxicated versus sober participants when they were given the opportunity to behave aggressively in the scanner against other men who provoked them.

We gave 50 healthy young men alcohol or a placebo. Participants who consumed alcohol breathalysed at .05. They did show decreased activation in the prefrontal cortex as expected. This was the first evidence to show that when intoxicated participants behave aggressively, they show reduced prefrontal activity. Interestingly, we found a positively correlation between prefrontal cortex activity and aggression, but only among intoxicated men. We think this reflects the fact that the participants in the alcohol condition were likely engaging in more hostile thinking about the provoking men.  Continue reading

Why Do Persons With Alcohol Use Disorder Not Adhere To Naltrexone Treatment?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol” by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sarah Dermody PhD

Assistant professor
School of Psychological Science
College of Liberal Art
Oregon State University 

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

Response: Naltrexone is an FDA-approved medication to treat alcohol use disorder. We know that people have difficulty adhering to the prescribed daily medication regimen, and that people who do not adhere to the medication tend not to fair as well in treatment as people who take the medication regularly.

This particular study attempted to address the question of why do people with alcohol use disorder have difficulty taking the medication daily? What we found was that people were less likely to take naltrexone after days of heavy drinking or strong alcohol craving versus typical drinking and craving levels. Furthermore, individuals were less likely to take the medication on weekends versus weekdays, which is particularly worrisome because heaviest drinking episodes tend to happen on the weekends.

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Most Attempts At Reducing Alcohol Consumption Fail

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol Poisoning PSA Video Shoot” by Stop Alcohol Deaths, Inc. is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Frank de Vocht

Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology and Public Health Research
Academic Lead Year 1 MBChB (MB21) ‘Foundations of Medicine’ Programme
Population Health Sciences
Bristol Medical School
University of Bristol 


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

Response: We were interested in prospectively investigating whether people who drink alcohol in the general population (so not patients), and who indicated that the were planning to reduce their consumption or complete stop drinking in the near future would, on average, succeed and have reduced consumption six months later.  Continue reading

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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