Author Interviews / 01.07.2020 Interview with: Ruiyuan Zhang, MD, MS Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics University of Georgia College of Public Health Athens, Georgia What is the background for this study? Response: Although there are several studies that focused on the effect of alcohol drinking on cognitive function, their findings were still mixed. So we want to use some new analysis techniques on this topic to see if we can have new findings. What are the main findings? Response: The main finding of our study is that low-to-moderate alcohol drinking is associated with better cognitive function outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews / 20.08.2019 Interview with: William R. Lovallo, Ph.D. Reseacher, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: We have been interested for some time in why some people are at high risk for alcoholism. Most work in the field of addictions is focused on persons who are already impacted by their exposure to alcohol or drugs. We wanted to know what they were like before that phase of their lives. So, in 1999 we began the Family Health Patterns Project to study healthy young adults 18-30 years of age with and without family histories of alcoholism but who were not alcoholics themselves. A family history is the best known, and perhaps strongest, risk factor for future drinking problems. We asked ourselves are the two family-history groups different? And if so, how are they different? There was at that time little literature to build on so we decided to look at as many things as we could. We began recruiting volunteers for our family-history positive and negative groups and evaluating them with a standard psychiatric interview, personality tests, measures of depressive mood and neuroticism, and measuring physiological reactivity to stress. In doing so we also began collecting DNA and studying basic genetic variants to see if any of those might be revealing. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Smoking / 28.12.2018 Interview with: Dr. Sarah Dermody, PhD Assistant Professor School of Psychological Science Oregon State University Corvallis Oregon What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Drinking alcohol is a risk factor for sustained smoking. In a sample of daily cigarette smokers receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder, we examined if reductions in drinking corresponded with reductions in nicotine metabolism as indexed by the nicotine metabolite ratio. The nicotine metabolite ratio is important because it is associated with smoking level and lapses. We found that for men, alcohol use and the nicotine metabolite ratio reduced significantly; however, for women, neither drinking nor nicotine metabolite ratio changed. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews / 16.12.2018 Interview with: "Schott Zwiesel Wine Glasses" by Didriks is licensed under CC BY 2.0 <a href=""> CC BY 2.0</a> Simona Costanzo MS, PhD Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention. IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed, Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We investigated how the different intake of alcohol relates to all-cause and cause-specific hospitalizations. In particular, we mainly investigated the association of alcohol consumption with total number of hospitalizations that occurred during 6 years of follow-up. We also examined cause-specific hospitalizations (e.g., alcohol-related diseases, vascular diseases, cancer, traumatic injury, and neurodegenerative diseases). (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews / 08.11.2018 Interview with: “Alcohol” by Jorge Mejía peralta is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Sarah Hartz, MD PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study is the first to show that daily drinking is dangerous. Specifically, drinking four or more times weekly, even if it’s only 1-2 drinks at a time, increases risk of mortality. This is in line with recent studies published in the Lancet, but we were able to break down their lowest drinking categories (up to 12.5 drinks weekly in one and up to 5.6 drinks weekly in the other) and found that the frequency is important, not just the average number of drinks per week. It looks like the increased mortality is predominantly due to cancer-related deaths. (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews / 18.07.2018 Interview with: “undefined” by Iñaki Queralt is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM Chair and Professor,Department of Community Health Sciences Boston University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most of what we know about the time course of drinking too much (at-risk use) is from people in treatment or special groups and not adults in the US population at large. That’s why we did this study. We need to know how often at-risk drinking persists, how often it resolves, and how often it appears de novo. Risky drinking means exceeding limits that are associated with health consequences. It includes people with an alcohol use disorder but the vast majority of people drinking risky amounts do not have a disorder, they are simply drinking amounts that can harm their health. Even low amounts can harm health (e.g. breast cancer risk increases at <1 drink a day) but substantial increases in risk occur over 7 in a week on average (for women, and 14 for men) or >5 for men (>4 for women) on an occasion. The latter are associated with acute consequences (e.g. injury, unwanted sex), and the former with chronic conditions (e.g. cirrhosis). People should be aware of their risks and then they can make choices about what risks they want to take (and for those with a disorder, they may need help with those choices and help changing behavior like treatment). These are all useful thing to talk to any young adults about before they set off on a stag do in Krakow or any other city! The main findings were….that 3 years later, 3/4ths of adults drinking risky amounts were still doing so. But importantly, a quarter had stopped drinking risky amounts. It is important to know that things change. One factor associated with that positive change was having kids—presumably a positive social change even if stressful. Of those adults not drinking risky amounts when first interviewed, 15% started doing so 3 years later. Again having children was protective but the main factor associated with starting was young age, particularly those who became of legal drinking age. Despite the fact that youth may be able to access alcohol illegally, this finding confirms that the drinking age of 21 in the US does in fact restrict access, and that turning 21 increases use and risky use by making alcohol more accessible. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Lancet / 21.02.2018 Interview with: “undefined” by Iñaki Queralt is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Michaël Schwarzinger, MD, PhD Translational Health Economics Network (THEN) Paris What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The association of heavy drinking with dementia has been known for decades. For instance, there is about no Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome without heavy drinking and the syndrome was described in 1890. But this type of dementia is very rare. Also, heavy drinking is knowingly associated with multiple risk factors for dementia onset such as hypertension or diabetes. But heavy drinkers generally refuse to participate to cohort studies and declaration of alcohol use among participants is generally biased downward... So the study rationale is very strong, but supporting empirical evidence is quite scarce. This nationwide study included all 31+ million adults discharged from hospitals over 6 years, i.e., 50% of the French population before 65 years old and 80% above that age. Of 1.1+ million adults diagnosed with dementia, one in twenty had an early-onset (before 65 years old). Heavy drinking was recorded in most (56%) early-onset dementia cases: two-third in men; one-third in women. In addition, the association of heavy drinking with dementia goes far beyond 65 years old, both directly (>3 times higher risk for dementia onset after controlling for more than 30 known risk factors for dementia) and indirectly as heavy drinking was associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset. Accordingly, heavy drinking had the largest effect on dementia risk of all independent modifiable risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes. The effects were found whatever dementia case definition or population studies. (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…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, University of Pennsylvania / 14.02.2014

Henry R. Kranzler, MD Professor, Department of Psychiatry Director of the Center for Studies of Addiction. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia Interview with: Henry R. Kranzler, MD Professor, Department of Psychiatry Director of the Center for Studies of Addiction. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Kranzler: The study had two main findings:
  • First, topiramate, at a maximal dosage of 200 mg/day, which is lower than the 300 mg/day used in prior treatment trials, substantially reduced the frequency of heavy drinking and increased the frequency of abstinent days more than placebo. The lower dosage was well tolerated.
  • Second, a variant in a gene that encodes a receptor subunit that binds topiramate moderated the response to topiramate. That is, C-allele homozygotes in the single nucleotide polymorphism rs2832407 in GRIK1, the gene encoding the GluK1 subunit of the kainate receptor, were the subgroup that accounted for the effects of topiramate on heavy drinking. This has important implications for the personalized treatment of alcohol use disorder, in that 40% of people of European ancestry have this genotype and, if confirmed, these findings would make it possible to screen people genetically to select an effective treatment.