Alcohol, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Dermatology / 26.10.2015

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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Columbia, JAMA / 21.10.2015

Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hasin: This study is based on data from two large-scale national surveys conducted over an eleven-year period that are designed to provide information on many health-related conditions in U.S. adults, including use of marijuana and other substances, changes over time in the prevalence of marijuana users, changes over time in the prevalence of disorders such as marijuana abuse and dependence, and the correlates and predictors of those disorders. The main findings of the study are that between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, the prevalence of marijuana users in the United States adult general population more than doubled, from 4.1% to 9.5%, while the prevalence of adults with marijuana use disorder (abuse or dependence) also increased substantially, from 1.5% to 2.9% of American adults. About three in ten adult marijuana users met criteria for a marijuana use disorder. The findings are consistent with other studies showing increases in rates of marijuana-related harms over the same general time period. This may be to do with how accessible marijuana has become, for example you can even find a purple lotus menu on various websites. This is perfectly safe and fun, but can develop into an addiction later in life. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, CDC, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 16.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since 2010, the proportion of U.S. 12th grade students who used marijuana during the preceding 30 days (21.4%) has surpassed the proportion who used cigarettes (19.2%). Negative outcomes associated with cigarette and marijuana use include addiction to one or both substances and diminished cognitive function, which can lead to lower academic achievement. CDC analyzed data from the 1997–2013 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) among U.S. non-Hispanic white (white), non-Hispanic black (black), and Hispanic students in grades 9–12 to examine trends in the prevalence of current 1) exclusive cigarette or cigar use, 2) exclusive marijuana use, and 3) any use of the three products. CDC further examined the prevalence of current marijuana use among current users of cigarettes or cigars. During 1997–2013, exclusive cigarette or cigar use declined overall by 64%, from 20.5% to 7.4% (p<0.01). However, exclusive marijuana use more than doubled overall from 4.2% to 10.2% (p<0.01). Any cigarette, cigar, or marijuana use decreased overall from 46.1% to 29.9% (p<0.01), whereas marijuana use among cigarette or cigar users increased from 51.2% to 62.4%. Considerable increases were identified among black and Hispanic students toward the end of the study period for exclusive marijuana use and marijuana use among cigarette or cigar users. Increased exclusive marijuana use and use of marijuana among cigarette or cigar users could undermine success in reducing tobacco use among youths. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, JAMA, Opiods, Pharmacology / 16.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Beth Han, MD, PhD, MPH Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Rockville, Maryland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Han: Since 1999, the United States has experienced increases in negative consequences and deaths associated with nonmedical use of prescription opioids. During this period, emergency department visits and drug overdose deaths involving these drugs have increased rapidly. To fully understand the current status of this public health crisis and who is currently most affected, we conducted this study based on nationally representative U.S. surveillance data. Our main study findings include:
  • Among adults age 18 through 64 years, the prevalence of nonmedical use of prescription opioids decreased from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 4.9 percent in 2013, but the prevalence of prescription opioid use disorders increased from 0.6 percent in 2003 to 0.9 percent in 2013. The 12-month prevalence of high-frequency use (200 days or more) also increased from 0.3 percent in 2003 to 0.4 percent in 2013.
  • Mortality assessed by drug overdose death rates involving prescription opioids increased from 4.5 per 100,000 in 2003 to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2013. The average number of days of nonmedical use of prescription opioids increased from 2.1 in 2003 to 2.6 in 2013. The prevalence of having prescription opioid use disorders among nonmedical users increased to 15.7 percent in 2010, 16.1 percent in 2011, 17 percent in 2012, and 16.9 percent in 2013, from 12.7 percent in 2003.
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Author Interviews, Opiods, Pediatrics, Pharmacology / 29.09.2015

Shannon M. Monnat, PhD Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Demography, and Sociology Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shannon M. Monnat, PhD Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Demography, and Sociology Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Monnat: Given concurrent rapid increases in opioid prescribing and adolescent prescription opioid misuse since the 1990s and historical problems with opioid abuse in rural areas, we were interested in whether adolescents in rural areas were more likely to abuse prescription opioids than their peers in urban areas. Adolescence is a really crucial time to study substance abuse disorders because most abuse begins during adolescence, and individuals who begin use before age 18 are more likely to develop a long-term disorder as an adult compared to those who first try a substance later in life. The active ingredient in prescription opioids and heroin is the same. Prescription opioids are highly addictive and can be dangerous if utilized incorrectly. Prescription opioid abuse is currently responsible for over 16,000 deaths in the US annually and has an estimated annual cost of nearly $56 billion dollars. Therefore, it is correctly viewed as a major public health problem. We found that teens living in rural areas are more likely to abuse prescription opioids compared to teens living in large urban areas. Several important factors increased rural teens’ risk of abusing prescription opioids, including that they are more likely to rely on emergency department treatment than their urban peers, they have less risky attitudes and perceptions about substance abuse than their urban peers, and they are less likely to be exposed to drug/alcohol prevention messages outside of the school environment than their urban peers. Rural teens are also buffered by several factors that help to reduce opioid abuse, including stronger religious beliefs, less depression, less peer substance abuse, and less access to illicit drugs. If not for these protective factors, the current epidemic we see in rural areas could be even worse. We also found that both rural and urban adolescents were most likely to report obtaining the prescriptions they abused from friends or family. However, rural adolescents were less likely than urban adolescents to obtain the pills this way. Rural adolescents were more likely than urban adolescents to report getting the pills they abuse directly from physicians.  (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 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. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Heart Disease / 17.09.2015

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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Gender Differences, Pediatrics / 16.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Mental Health Deputy Director, Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program (DDET) Baltimore MD Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Mental Health Deputy Director, Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program (DDET) Baltimore MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Johnson: There has been a lot of policy change with regard to marijuana. Several states have enacted laws regarding medical marijuana and decriminalization, and now four states and the District of Columbia have legalized use for adults. Along with these policy changes, there’s been concern that adolescent marijuana use would skyrocket. This prompted me to think about what’s happened over the past 15 years, and so I decided to examine past 15-year trends in adolescent marijuana use among US high school students. Our research team analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Study, or YRBS. It is a nationally-representative survey of high school students. A lot of the information we have about adolescents’ risk behavior comes from the YRBS. What we found is that marijuana use among US high school students has gone down over the time period. In 1999, 47% of high school students reported lifetime use of marijuana. By 2013, 41% reported lifetime use. Use was lowest in 2009, with 37% of high school students reporting lifetime use. The increase in use from 2009 to 2013 was not statistically significant, so we aren’t sure whether it represents random fluctuation or whether it indicates a reversal in trend. We also found that gender differences have gotten smaller over the time period, reflecting a real change. Boys have historically had higher rates of use, but that’s changing. In 1999, 51% of boys and 43% of girls reported lifetime marijuana use. By 2013, 42% of boys and 39% of girls reported lifetime use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Diabetes, Diabetologia, Heart Disease / 14.09.2015

Mike Bancks, MPH NHLBI Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention Pre-doctoral Fellow University of Minnesota School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mike Bancks, MPH NHLBI Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention Pre-doctoral Fellow University of Minnesota School of Public Health [email protected] Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We chose to research this topic because marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and use can be expected to increase as the effort to legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use grows. We found that individuals who reported using marijuana in excess of 100 times during young adulthood had 40% greater risk for developing prediabetes by middle adulthood. However, we did not find an association between marijuana use and overt diabetes during this same period in adulthood, suggesting that marijuana use may be a risk factor for the early stage of diabetes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods, Pain Research / 10.09.2015

Lynn Webster, M.D. Vice President of Scientific Affairs PRA Health Sciences (lead study investigator, and former President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine) photo: WikipediaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lynn Webster, M.D. Vice President of Scientific Affairs PRA Health Sciences (lead study investigator, and former President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine) Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main advantages of the buccal film? Dr. Webster: Because of its partial agonist activity and high affinity for mu-opioid receptors, buprenorphine has the potential to precipitate withdrawal in patients who are already on mu-opioid full agonists.  As a result, the current practice is to taper patients who are on around-the-clock (ATC) opioid therapy to a morphine sulfate equivalent (MSE) dose before switching to buprenorphine.  But tapering can result in a loss of pain control for patients.  For this study, we wanted to determine if patients on around-the-clock opioid full agonist therapy could be safely transitioned to buprenorphine HCl buccal film – an opioid partial agonist administered through the buccal mucosa – without the need for an opioid taper, and without inducing opioid withdrawal or sacrificing pain control.  Buprenorphine HCl buccal film is the first pain product in development to combine the efficacy of buprenorphine with this unique delivery system, which allows for efficient and convenient delivery of buprenorphine into the bloodstream. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, CMAJ, Mental Health Research / 09.09.2015

Dr. Evan Wood MD, PhD, ABIM, FRCPC, ABAM Diplomat Professor of Medicine, UBC Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine Co-Director, Urban Health Research Initiative Medical Director for Addiction Services, Vancouver Coastal Health Physician Program Director for Addiction, Providence Health CareMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Evan Wood MD, PhD, ABIM, FRCPC, ABAM Diplomat Professor of Medicine, UBC Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine Co-Director, Urban Health Research Initiative Medical Director for Addiction Services, Vancouver Coastal Health Physician Program Director for Addiction Providence Health Care  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wood: Drugs with the potential to produce altered states of consciousness were once the focus of intensive study in the 1950s and 1960s. While promising, this field of research has been dormant for decades but is now re-emerging as an area of intensive investigation and showing real potential as a new therapeutic paradigm in addiction medicine and mental health. While in its infancy, this is expected to be an area of much study in the coming years. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Wood: Psychedelic medicine is in its infancy and not ready for implementation in clinical practice. Clinicians and the community of individuals suffering from addiction and other concerns will hopefully support this area of research so that critical information on impacts and safety can be gathered. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews / 03.09.2015

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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Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Pharmacology / 21.08.2015

Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rutkow: Rates of prescription drug diversion and misuse, as well as overdose deaths, have increased throughout the United States. CDC estimates that each day, 44 people die from a prescription drug overdose. In the mid-2000s, Florida was viewed as the epicenter of this epidemic, with prescription drug overdose deaths increasing more than 80% from 2003 to 2009. In response, Florida enacted several laws to mitigate prescription drug abuse and diversion. Its pill mill law required pain management clinics to register with the state and prohibited physician dispensing of certain drugs. Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) collects data about dispensing of prescription drugs and can be accessed by physicians and pharmacists. Little is known about how these laws have affected prescribing of opioids. We applied comparative interrupted time series analyses to pharmacy claims data to examine four outcomes related to opioid prescribing in Florida, with Georgia as a comparison state. We found that in the first year of implementation, Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and pill mill law were associated with modest reductions in prescription opioid volume, prescriptions written, and the dose per prescription. These declines were statistically significant among the highest volume prescribers and patients at baseline. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Smoking, University Texas / 20.08.2015

Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Filbey: Most studies exclude tobacco users from participating, but 70% of marijuana users also use tobacco. We were interested in investigating the combined effects of marijuana and tobacco. Our research targeted the hippocampus because smaller hippocampal size is associated with marijuana use. We chose to study short term memory because the hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory and learning. The main finding was surprising. The smaller the hippocampus in the marijuana plus nicotine user, the greater the memory performance. We expected the opposite, which was true of the non-using control group. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, CDC / 19.08.2015

Gillian Schauer, PhD, MPH Lead author and Contractor CDC’s Office on Smoking and HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gillian Schauer, PhD, MPH Lead author and Contractor CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schauer: Marijuana is the most commonly used federally illicit drug in the United States. State-level policy change legalizing marijuana or one of its constituents for recreational or medical use is increasing. Currently, 23 states and DC have legalized medical use of marijuana. Four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational and medical use of marijuana.
  • This paper helps fill two important knowledge gaps. It describes how US adults are using marijuana—for example, whether they smoke it, eat it, or use it in a vaporizer—and it describes whether they report using it for medical reasons or for recreational reasons, or both. Data come from the 2014 Summer Styles national consumer online panel survey (sample size of 4,269 adults), and have been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
  • Nationally, marijuana is primarily consumed in combusted (smoked) form. In 2014, among adults who used marijuana in the past 30 days, 92.1% of adults said they smoked it, 16.1% ate or drank it, and 7.6% used a vaporizer or other electronic device.
  • Among adults who used marijuana in the past 30 days, 10.5% say they used it only for medical reasons, 53.4% used it only for recreational reasons, and 36.1% used it for both.
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Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research / 19.08.2015

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. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Psychological Science / 18.08.2015

Professor Jackie Andrade PhD School of Psychology Cognition Institute Plymouth University Plymouth Australia MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Jackie Andrade PhD School of Psychology Cognition Institute Plymouth University Plymouth Australia   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Andrade: We want to understand the mental processes that are going on during episodes of craving for drugs or food. We know that cravings are largely mental events because people rarely experience them when in the middle of a mentally-engaging task - giving a presentation or finishing an exciting novel, for example. By understanding the mental processes underpinning cravings, we can improve treatments for addiction and eating problems, and also find ways of strengthening desires for healthy activities. Visual mental imagery is a key component of craving, with people picturing themselves indulging their desires. Laboratory research has shown that blocking this craving imagery can reduce the strength of cravings for food and cigarettes. Tetris is a good task for doing this because it involves a lot of visual processing to keep track of the different coloured shapes and mentally rotate them to fit the spaces. For our latest study, we wanted to find out if Tetris helped block cravings in ‘real life’ rather than in the laboratory, and whether it worked for a range of common cravings. We asked 31 participants to carry iPods with them for a week. They received text messages 7 times a day prompting them to use the iPod to report whether they were craving something and, if so, what it was and how strong the craving was. A random 15 participants assigned to the Tetris condition were also asked to play Tetris for 3 minutes and answer the craving questions again. For this group, we compared the before-Tetris and after-Tetris craving scores on each occasion and found that cravings were 20% weaker after playing Tetris. People played Tetris 40 times on average, but the craving-reducing effect did not wear off as they got used to the game. The control group who reported cravings without playing Tetris allowed us to see how cravings varied naturally across the week. Tetris reduced craving strength across the range of cravings reported, which included cravings for drugs (alcohol, nicotine, caffeine), food, and ‘other activities’ including sleep, videogaming, sex and social interaction. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews / 17.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kathrine Sullivan Ph.D. Candidate University of Southern California School of Social Work Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Military families and military-connected youth exhibit significant strengths; however, a sizeable proportion of these families appear to be struggling in the face of war-related stressors. Understanding the consequences of war is critical as a public health concern and because additional resources may be needed to support military families. This study used a large, normative, and geographically comprehensive dataset to determine whether military-connected youth are at risk of adverse outcomes, including substance use, victimization, and weapon-carrying, during wartime.  Results indicated that military-connected 7th, 9th and 11th grade students had greater odds of substance use, victimization, and weapon-carrying compared to non-military connected peers. Specifically, more military-connected students reported using alcohol (45 percent vs. 39 percent), being hit, kicked, slapped or pushed (36 percent vs. 27 percent) or bringing a gun to school (10 percent vs. 5 percent) than other students.  Children with parents or a caregiver in the armed forces were also much more likely to have used prescription medications (36 percent vs. 27 percent), brought a knife to school (15 percent vs. 9 percent), been in a fight (27 percent vs. 17 percent) or feared being beaten up (24 percent vs. 18 percent). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Heart Disease / 12.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bradley C. Clark, MD Pediatric Cardiology Fellow – 3rd Year Division of Cardiology Children's National Health System Washington, DC 20010 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Clark: After consulting on multiple pediatric emergency room patients with K2 (synthetic cannabinoid) ingestion and electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities, my co-authors and I decided that it was worth taking a more detailed look at the potential cardiac effects of synthetic cannabinoids. We did a retrospective chart review and discovered a total of 8 patients in a 3 year period (2011 – 2014) at our institution with reported synthetic cannabinoid ingestion and concern for myocardial injury.  There were 3 individuals with evidence of ECG abnormalities in a segmental pattern with increased cardiac enzyme levels (troponins).  The other 5 individuals had ECG abnormalities either without troponin elevations or were not specifically tested.  Each individual that had an echocardiogram performed had normal intracardiac anatomy with normal biventricular systolic function. Given the elevated troponin levels and ECG abnormalities, there was a suspicion for myocardial ischemia in this small subset of patients without meeting specific criteria for myocardial infarction.  Interestingly, these individuals had completely normal echocardiograms and had no other potential cause of myocardial ischemia discovered by history.  Additionally, these were all teenage pediatric patients with documented K2 exposure without evidence of exposure to illegal substances. K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids are known to cause analgesia and euphoria and can lead to a lack of symptomatology.  Therefore, individuals with synthetic cannabinoid ingestion may not complain of the prototypical cardiac symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations) and may not have the workup to diagnose potential myocardial ischemia. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, HIV, Lancet / 10.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Keith Ahamad, a clinician scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and a Family Doctor trained and certified in Addiction Medicine.  He is Division Lead for Addiction Medicine in the department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care, and is also an addiction physician at the St. Paul’s Addiction Medicine Consult Service, the Immunodeficiency Clinic and Vancouver Detox. He is also Lead Study Clinician for CHOICES, a US National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded clinical trial looking at an opioid receptor blocker (Vivitrol) to treat opioid or alcohol addiction in HIV positive patients.Dr. Keith Ahamad, a clinician scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and a Family Doctor trained and certified in Addiction Medicine. He is Division Lead for Addiction Medicine in the department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care, and is also an addiction physician at the St. Paul’s Addiction Medicine Consult Service, the Immunodeficiency Clinic and Vancouver Detox. He is also Lead Study Clinician for CHOICES, a US National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded clinical trial looking at an opioid receptor blocker (Vivitrol) to treat opioid or alcohol addiction in HIV positive patients. MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Ahamad: Previous methadone research has mostly been done in restrictive settings, such as the USA, where methadone can only be dispensed through restrictive methadone programs and cannot be prescribed through primary care physician’s offices. Since a systematic review in 2012, randomised controlled trials have compared methadone treatment provided at restrictive specialty clinics with primary care clinics, which have shown the benefits of primary care models of methadone delivery on heroin treatment outcomes, but not on HIV incidence. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Ahamad: After adjusting for factors commonly associated with HIV, methadone remained independently associated in protecting against HIV in this group of injection drug users. Those study participants who were not prescribed methadone at baseline were almost four times more likely to contract HIV during study follow up. MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Ahamad: Methadone is an effective medication in treating opioid addiction. Through international randomized control trials, we already know that when prescribed though primary care offices, access to this life-saving medication is increased, effective, and increases patient satisfaction. Now, through our study, we have evidence that when delivered in this manner, it also decreases the spread of HIV. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Inflammation / 31.07.2015

Prof. Igor Yakymenko Laboratory of Biophysics, Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology NAS of UkraineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Igor Yakymenko Laboratory of Biophysics, Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology NAS of Ukraine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Yakymenko: We know a lot about both health effects and metabolic effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) today, including mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. For example, epidemiological studies over the world indicate that 5 years of cell phone use 20 min per day increase risk of acoustic neuroma 3 times. Or, for example, 4 years of cell phone use 1 hour or more per day increase risk of some kinds of brain tumors, including glioma, 3-5 times. But it was not understandable the primary mechanisms of such effects. In our study we had analyzed about 100 recent studies on metabolic effects of radiofrequency radiation, including our own experimental data, and demonstrated that oxidative/free radical effects are mandatory feature of RFR exposure of living cells. Moreover, the chronic radiofrequency radiation exposure can produce chronic oxidative stress in living cells as a first step for possible development of bulk of hazardous health effects. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pain Research / 23.07.2015

Mark S. Wallace MD Department of Anesthesiology School of Medicine University of California, San Diego, CaliforniaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mark S. Wallace MD Department of Anesthesiology School of Medicine University of California, San Diego, California Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wallace: The study was funded by the center for medicinal cannabis research at the University of California San Diego. The center was funded by the state of California. The center was the first to fund a series of double-blind randomized controlled trials with inhaled cannabis for neuropathic pain. My trial is the first in diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain which is one of the most prevalent pain syndromes in our society with limited treatments. We found a dose dependent reduction in pain. However there was also a dose dependent increase in euphoria and sedation which may limit clinical use. Effects on neurocognitive functioning were minimal. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Orthopedics / 20.07.2015

Yankel Gabet, DMD, PhD Department of Anatomy and Anthropology Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv IsraelMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yankel Gabet, DMD, PhD Department of Anatomy and Anthropology Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv Israel Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gabet: Cannabis affects the body via specific components that are able to binding to receptors in the brain and other tissues. The components include the well-known ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the major constituents of cannabis. The cannabinoid receptors in our body are activated by several molecules (‘endocannabinoids’) synthesized by different sorts of cells under specific conditions. These receptors can be activated by synthetic compounds (cannabinoid ligands) as well as by natural cannabis. The effect of endocannabinoids in bone metabolism has been studied before but this study is the first report on the actions of natural THC and CDB in bone fracture healing. This is particularly important in light of the high incidence of both cannabis use and bone fractures; it is likely that many patients suffering from bone fractures consume cannabis that may have beneficial or adverse effects on the healing process. Another important point is that the non-psychogenic CDB is enough to promote bone healing, so there is no need to be exposed to the euphoric effects of cannabis/THC to get the beneficial functions of CBD on bone. (You can buy cbd oil online to help with other conditions as well such as fibromyalgia and diabetes.) If you are interested in learning more about CBD/THC and its products there are places online where you can find information, for example, from an online cbd store, a CBD Blog and other resources. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, FDA, Opiods, Pharmacology / 15.07.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christopher M. Jones, Pharm D., M.P.H Senior advisor, Office of Public Health Strategy and Analysis Office of the Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Jones: Opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines are the two most common drug classes involved in prescription drug overdose deaths. In 2010, 75% of prescription drug overdose deaths involved opioid analgesics and 29% involved benzodiazepines. Opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines are also the most common drugs associated with emergency department visits due to nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Combined opioid and benzodiazepine use has been suggested as a risk factor for overdose death. Opioids and benzodiazepines have complex drug interactions and in combination can result in synergistic respiratory depression, but the exact mechanisms by which benzodiazepines worsen opioid-related respiratory depression are not fully understood. Widespread co-use of benzodiazepines and opioids has been documented in both chronic pain and addiction treatment settings. Studies suggest that among patients who receive long-term opioids for chronic non-cancer pain, 40% or more also use benzodiazepines. Among patients who abuse opioids, benzodiazepine abuse also is prevalent, and co-users report using benzodiazepines to enhance opioid intoxication. This study builds on the prior literature by analyzing trends on how the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines in the U.S. contributes to the serious adverse outcomes of nonmedical use–related ED visits and drug overdose deaths. A better understanding of the consequences of co-use of these medications will help identify at-risk populations, inform prevention efforts, and improve the risk–benefit balance of these medications. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Jones: From 2004 to 2011, the rate of nonmedical use–related Emergency Department visits involving both opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines increased from 11.0 to 34.2 per 100,000 population. During the same period, drug overdose deaths involving both drugs increased from 0.6 to 1.7 per 100,000. Statistically significant increases in Emergency Department visits occurred among males and females, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics, and all age groups except 12–17-year-olds. For overdose deaths, statistically significant increases were seen in males and female, all three race/ethnicity groups, and all age groups except 12–17-year-olds. Benzodiazepine involvement in opioid analgesic overdose deaths increased each year, increasing from 18% of opioid analgesic overdose deaths in 2004 to 31% in 2011. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mayo Clinic, Opiods, Tobacco Research / 10.07.2015

W. Michael Hooten, M.D Professor of Anesthesiology Mayo ClinicMedicalResearch.com Interview with: W. Michael Hooten, M.D Professor of Anesthesiology Mayo Clinic Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Hooten: The purpose of the study was to investigate a gap in knowledge related to the progression of short-term opioid use to longer-term use. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Hooten: The main findings are that a history of substance abuse or tobacco use is associated with the progression from short-term to a longer-term pattern of opioid prescribing. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, NYU, Opiods, Pain Research, Pharmacology / 25.06.2015

Dr. Mia T. Minen, MD, MPH Director, Headache Services at NYU Langone Medical Center Assistant professor, Department of Neurology MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Mia T. Minen, MD, MPH Director, Headache Services NYU Langone Medical Center Assistant professor, Department of Neurology   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Minen: We conducted a survey on opioid and barbiturate use among patients visiting a headache center to find out which medications they were receiving for treatment. There’s limited evidence that long-term use of these medications can help treat headaches or migraines, and even short-term use in small quantities can cause medication overuse headache. It is important to determine which providers start these medications so that educational interventions can be tailored to these physician specialties to try to prevent situations such as incorrect prescribing practices and medication overuse. In this sample of patients from a specialty headache center, approximately 20 percent of patients -- or 1 in 5 -- were using opioids or barbiturates, and about half had been prescribed these medications at some point in the past for their headaches. These findings show that opioids and barbiturates are commonly prescribed to patients with headaches. While two-thirds of patients found opioids or barbiturates helpful, many did not like them, were limited by side effects or did not find them to be helpful. Emergency department physicians were reported to be the most frequent first prescribers of opioids and general neurologists were the most frequent prescribers of barbiturate-containing medications. Primary care physicians were also identified as frequent first prescribers of these medications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA, Johns Hopkins / 25.06.2015

Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. Associate Professor Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21224MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. Associate Professor Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21224 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Vandrey: The background for the study was that I have had several conversations with individuals that led me to believe that there was insufficient regulation of products of all types being sold in medical cannabis dispensaries.  In order to evaluate that, we needed to do a study.  We decided to test edible products because that is a growing market, and, because it involves some level of manufacturing, there is greater chance for dose variability and inaccuracy.  The main finding was that the majority of products were purchased from retail stores selling cannabis products for medical use were significantly mislabeled with regards to the dose of THC and other cannabinoids. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA / 23.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Penny F. Whiting, PhD School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol The National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West at University Hospitals, Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol UK Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd, Escrick, York, United Kingdom MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Whiting: Cannabis is one of the most popular recreational drugs - only tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are more popular. It can result in an alteration to mood and a feeling of “high”. An estimated 141 million people use cannabis worldwide – this is equivalent to 2.5% of the world’s population. Cannabis has a long history of use for the relief of a wide variety of medical symptoms. There is evidence of its use for medical purposes going back to early Egyptian times. The pen-ts’ao ching the world’s oldest herbal book includes reference to cannabis as medicine for rheumatic pain, constipation, disorders of the female reproductive system, and malaria amongst others, this herbal book also contains the first reference to cannabis as a psychoactive drug. However, its use is controversial as it has been included as a controlled drug in the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs since 1961, and the use of cannabis is illegal in most countries. Medical cannabis (or medical marijuana) refers to the use of cannabis or cannabinoids (any compound, natural or synthetic, that can mimic the actions of plant-derived cannabinoids) as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms, this is different from CBD oil that also has been found to help with certain medical conditions, click to see details about CBD oil. Some countries have legalised medicinal-grade cannabis to chronically ill patients but in others its use remains illegal even for medicinal purposes. Canada and the Netherlands have government-run programmes where specialised companies supply quality controlled herbal cannabis. There are different strains of cannabis can help with aliments, those who are interested in finding out more about a list of low odor strains by GreenBudGuru.com might be interested in visiting or doing some research to find out more. These programmes have been running since 2001 and 2003 respectively. In the US around half of the states have introduced laws to permit the medical use of cannabis; other countries have similar laws. Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd (see below) were commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health to conduct a systematic review for the effects and adverse events of medical cannabis to inform policy decision making. Systematic reviews are studies of studies that offer a systematic approach to reviewing and summarising evidence. They follow a defined structure to identify, evaluate and summarise all available evidence addressing a particular research question. We were asked to focus on the following ten indications which were of particular interest to our commissioners: nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, patients with HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis or paraplegia, depression, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder, psychosis, glaucoma, and Tourette’s syndrome. We only included randomised trials, the most robust design for evaluating the effects of an intervention. We included almost 80 trials (nearly 6500 participants). We had most evidence for chronic pain (28 trials), nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy (28 trials) and spasticity due to MS or paraplegia (14 trials) with less than five studies included for each of the other indications and none for depression. With the exception of the nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy population, studies general compared cannabinoids to placebo with only single studies for each indication comparing cannabinoid with an active comparator. In the nausea and vomiting population the majority of studies compared cannabinoids to an active comparator, most commonly prochlorperazine. Most trials reported greater improvement in symptoms with cannabinoids compared to control groups, however, these did not always reach statistical significance. Cannabinoids were also associated with a greater risk of short term adverse events, including serious adverse events. Common adverse events included dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, sleepiness, and euphoria. Overall we found that there was moderate quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity and low-quality evidence to suggest that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV infection, sleep quality, and Tourette syndrome. When determining the quality of the evidence we considered the risk of bias in trials, the consistency of the evidence across the trials, the directness of the evidence (was the trials research question directly applicable to our review question), and the precision of the evidence. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Columbia, Lancet / 18.06.2015

Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hasin: The background for the study was the need to identify the causes of the marked increase in marijuana use among U.S. adolescents over the last several years, given that early adolescent marijuana use leads to a number of adverse health and psychosocial consequences, including cognitive decline, into adulthood. We had two main findings from the study:
  1. A comparison of the rates of adolescent marijuana use between states that ever passed a medical marijuana law and those that did not revealed that states with such laws had higher rates of teen marijuana use, regardless of when they passed the law; and
  2. When we compared the rates of teen marijuana use in these states before and after passage of the laws, we did not find a post-passage increase in the rates of teen marijuana use. This suggests that some common factor may be causing both the laws to be passed and the teens to be more likely to smoke marijuana in the states that passed these laws.
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