Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cannabis / 17.01.2017 Interview with: Kathleen K. Bucholz, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis MO 63110-1547 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, UCLA / 02.01.2017 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, CT Scanning, Heart Disease / 02.12.2016 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Genetic Research / 28.11.2016 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Gender Differences / 27.10.2016 Interview with: Tim Slade, PhD Associate Professor National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Schizophrenia / 27.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Stine Mai Nielsen Copenhagen University Hospital Mental Health Center Copenhagen Gentofte, Denmark 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, NIH, Pharmacology / 12.10.2016 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 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. (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 12.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Rebecca Lacey, PhD Research Associate Epidemiology & Public Health Institute of Epidemiology & Health Faculty of Pop Health Sciences University College London 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. (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews, Psychological Science / 16.09.2016 Interview with: Kristina J. Berglund Department of Psychology University of Gothenburg 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Columbia, OBGYNE, Tobacco / 21.07.2016 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 Program 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Memory / 19.07.2016 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 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. (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders / 11.07.2016 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease / 26.06.2016 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Diabetes, Endocrinology / 03.04.2016 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 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%. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, PLoS / 18.03.2016 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, NYU, OBGYNE, Sleep Disorders / 27.02.2016 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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Nutrition, Weight Research / 13.02.2016 Interview with: 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.
Accidents & Violence, Alcohol, Author Interviews, CMAJ / 10.02.2016 Interview with: [wysija_form id="5"]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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 16.01.2016

More on Alcohol on 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Lancet, Pediatrics / 08.01.2016 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). (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews / 06.01.2016 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, PLoS / 02.01.2016 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, BMJ / 11.12.2015 Interview with:

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. (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cannabis, OBGYNE, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics / 28.11.2015 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, NIH / 24.11.2015 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Smoking / 30.10.2015 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Pediatrics / 28.10.2015 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Pediatrics / 28.10.2015 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Dermatology / 26.10.2015 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, CDC, OBGYNE / 25.09.2015

Cheryl H. Tan, M.P.H. Epidemiologist and lead author of the study National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities 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. (more…)