To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Heavy Episodic Drinking in Early Adolescence: Gender-Specific Risk and Protective Factors

This longitudinal study examined possible gender differences regarding risk and protective factors for heavy episodic drinking among 1,222 seventh-grade students (aged 13) in the City of Stockholm, Sweden, with follow-up 2 years later.

Logistic regression analyses showed that several factors predicted heavy episodic drinking. 

The strongest predictors for boys’ heavy episodic drinking in the ninth grade were heavy episodic drinking (odds ratio [OR] = 5.30) and smoking in the seventh grade (OR = 5.80). 

Drinking peers (OR = 2.47) and smoking (OR = 2.44) in the seventh grade showed the strongest association for girls. 

Furthermore, high parental monitoring and having a secure attachment to parents may have a protective effect when risk factors are present. 

Our results lend support to prevention initiatives to strengthen the parent–child relation and focus on adolescents’ ability to resist peer pressure and of limiting parental provision of alcohol. The study's limitations are noted.

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Chronic alcohol neuroadaptation and stress contribute to susceptibility for alcohol craving and relapse

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder. Major characteristics observed in alcoholics during an initial period of alcohol abstinence are altered physiological functions and a negative emotional state.

Evidence suggests that a persistent, cumulative adaptation involving a kindling/allostasis-like process occurs during the course of repeated chronic alcohol exposures that is critical for the negative symptoms observed during alcohol withdrawal. 

Basic studies have provided evidence for specific neurotransmitters within identified brain sites being responsible for the negative emotion induced by the persistent cumulative adaptation following intermittent-alcohol exposures. 

After an extended period of abstinence, the cumulative alcohol adaptation increases susceptibility to stress- and alcohol cue-induced negative symptoms and alcohol seeking, both of which can facilitate excessive ingestion of alcohol. In the alcoholic, stressful imagery and alcohol cues alter physiological responses, enhance negative emotion, and induce craving. 

Brain fMRI imaging following stress and alcohol cues has documented neural changes in specific brain regions of alcoholics not observed in social drinkers. 

Such altered activity in brain of abstinent alcoholics to stress and alcohol cues is consistent with a continuing ethanol adaptation being responsible. Therapies in alcoholics found to block responses to stress and alcohol cues would presumably be potential treatments by which susceptibility for continued alcohol abuse can be reduced. 

By continuing to define the neurobiological basis of the sustained alcohol adaptation critical for the increased susceptibility of alcoholics to stress and alcohol cues that facilitate craving, a new era is expected to evolve in which the high rate of relapse in alcoholism is minimized.

Read Full Abstract  
Request Reprint E-Mail:   

Inverse association of the obesity predisposing FTO rs9939609 genotype with alcohol consumption and risk for alcohol dependence

To investigate whether the FTO rs9939609 A allele (a risk factor for obesity) is associated with measures of alcohol consumption. 
Among individuals drinking alcohol, the obesity associated ‘AA’ genotype was also associated with lower total ethanol consumption (sex, age and BMI adjusted difference: 0.21 g/day, P = 0.012) and distinct drinking habits with relatively low frequency of drinks but larger volume consumed at a time as evidenced by: (i) association between ‘AA’ and frequency/amount of typical drinks (P = 0.023, multiple logistic regression analysis); (ii) inverse correlation between ‘AA’ and drink frequency adjusted for drink size (P = 0.007 for distilled spirits, P = 0.018 for beer); (iii) decreased frequency of ‘AA’ (OR = 0.46, P = 0.0004) among those who drank small amounts of distilled spirits (≤100 ml at a time) but frequently (≥1-2 times/week). 

A decrease of ‘AA’ was also found in both cohorts of alcohol-dependent patients vs. geographically matched subjects from WOBASZ yielding a pooled estimate of OR = 0.59, CI: 0.40-0.88, P = 0.008). 

Exploratory analysis showed that those with rs9939609 AA reported lower (by 1.22) mean number of cigarettes/day during a year of most intense smoking, (P = 0.003) and were older at start of smoking by 0.44 years (P = 0.016). 


Request Reprint E-Mail:   

Friday, October 22, 2010

Number of drunken children in A&E rises sharply

Growing numbers of children are ending up in hospital because they have drunk so much, with more girls needing treatment than boys, according to new NHS figures.

Under-18s have an increasingly damaging relationship with alcohol, with tens of thousands every year being attended to by ambulance crews, treated in A&E or admitted overnight, according to a report from the charity Alcohol Concern.
The number of underage drinkers admitted to hospital in England rose by 32% between 2003 and 2007, from around 11,000 in 2003 to more than 14,000 in 2007, NHS hospital records show. A total of 92,220 children and young people under 18 were admitted to hospital between 2002 and 2009 – or 36 under-18s a day.

Girls are 1.3 times more likely than boys to need to be admitted due to alcohol. Between 2004 and 2009 23,347 females under 18 received treatment compared with 18,159 males in that age group.   > > > >

Workplace Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention, and EAPs: BIG (Brief Intervention Group) Initiative Manual

Most people with alcohol problems work and the majority work full time. Among adults who currently have the disease of alcoholism, 75% work (59% work full-time and 16% work part time). An even higher workforce participation rate is found among adults who currently have alcohol abuse disorders: 82% are employed (66% worked full-time and 16% worked part-time). Analysis of the 2005-2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the prevalence of alcohol use disorders varies substantially between industries.  > > > >

Read Full Manual     (PFD)

Brief Intervention Group Initiative

BIG is an exciting new effort of the Employee Assistance industry in the U.S. and Canada to work together to identify and treat employees with alcohol-related problems as a means of increasing overall productivity and engagement in the workplace.

Today, fewer than 10% of issues that U.S. and Canadian EAPs address are recorded as “alcohol” related.   But many more employees struggle with alcohol-related issues than that number indicates.  Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) is a well researched practice that has demonstrated consistent success in correctly identifying alcohol needs in employees and assisting them to reduce hazardous use.  SBI is not widely or consistently used in our field.  Not yet.

By working together to promote routine screening and brief counseling for alcohol, EAPs will help their corporate customers and their employees to remain productive and healthy.  Together, we can change EAP call centers’ and office-based EAP counselors’ adherence to SBI evidenced-based protocols. 

Click here to learn more!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Current issues in Alcohol use and HIV research and prevention in India

The Second International Conference on Alcohol and HIV: Insights from Interventions was held in New Delhi 28-30 September 2010. During the conference a special suplement of the journal "AIDS and Behavior" was launched. A number of the papers presented in the conference are available in the journal. 

This supplemental of AIDS and Behavior is a collection of recent work by Indian researchers and Indo-U.S. partnerships, examining the intersection of alcohol and HIV in India.  > >  > >

ILLEGAL ENTREPRENEURS A Comparative Study of the Liquor Trade in Stockholm and New Orleans 1920 – 1940

The 1920s were a golden period for smuggling in Nordic waters, as systems of prohibition were established in Finland, Norway and Iceland, while in Sweden an intricate system of rationing was implemented in 1917. 

A comparative study of the illegal liquor trade in Stockholm and New Orleans shows that the actual methods of smuggling were similar in the two cities. Mother ships brought the cargo to a point outside territorial waters, where it was shifted to smaller boats. These brought the liquor in through the archipelago of Stockholm or the bayous of the Mississippi delta. 

The relative lack of corruption in Sweden did not limit the extent of the black market. According to contemporary estimates, the amount of smuggled liquor was about the same in the two cities. 

The kind of alcohol that was brought in was different, however, and the value of the trade higher in New Orleans. Also, the organization of the trade differed, in terms of ownership and distribution.

In neither city did the illegal entrepreneurs appear to be very violent. The fact that the rate of violence was much higher in New Orleans, than in Stockholm, did not seem to affect their business methods.

Read Full Article

Seminar - Policies Favouring Lower Alcohol Content Beverages: Motives and Consequences

Copenhagen, Hotel Admiral, 16-17 of March, 2011
The effects of favouring lower alcohol-content beverages have in different times been a topical issue in Nordic alcohol policy debate. A preference for lower-alcohol beverages is visible in policies such as higher taxes on spirits and greater availability and advertising opportunities for beer and other lower alcohol content products. These policies convey a hierarchy of perceived effects by beverages according to their alcohol content. As of yet the reasoning and the outcomes of this preferential treatment has not been properly mapped. There are no satisfying answers to questions such as: Does harm per litre vary between different beverages? What are the short and long term consequences of people being lead, due to various reasons, to drink low alcohol beverages rather than high?
The meeting strives at gathering a wide range of research, which produces evidence on the underlying motives as well as effects of such policies. Both empirical testing and pieces on historical contexts or policy rhetoric are welcome. Work that investigates the following questions is especially relevant: What decisions that lead to a favouring of lighter beverages have been made; when were they taken; what can be said about immediate and long-term effects? What were the effects of the changes in terms of trouble per litre? What did the discourses/ rhetoric underlying these policies look like?
Papers representing different drinking cultures and policy traditions will strengthen the comparative dimension of the initiative as a whole.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Perfectionism, perceived stress, drinking to cope, and alcohol-related problems among college students.

This study investigated the association between perfectionism (categorized by adaptive perfectionistic, maladaptive perfectionistic, or nonperfectionistic groups), perceived stress, drinking alcohol to cope, and alcohol-related problems in a large sample of college students (N = 354).

Maladaptive perfectionists reported significantly higher levels of stress and drinking to cope than adaptive perfectionists and nonperfectionists. Adaptive perfectionists reported the fewest alcohol-related problems, suggesting that healthy levels of high standards may protect against drinking to cope with stress. 

Across all participants, a significant indirect effect for drinking to cope supported its role as a mediator between stress and alcohol-related problems.

Structural equation modeling analyses supported the moderating role of perfectionism in this mediation model, such that maladaptive perfectionists were more likely to drink to cope under stress and report alcohol-related problems, whereas higher stress was associated with fewer alcohol-related problems among nonperfectionists.

Additional analyses revealed higher stress levels for women and a stronger link between stress and drinking to cope for women compared to men. 

Future research directions as well as clinical implications regarding perfectionism, stress, drinking to cope, and alcohol-related problems are discussed. 

Read Full Abstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail:  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Upregulation of Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptors in Dopamine D2 Receptor Knockout Mice Is Reversed by Chronic Forced Ethanol Consumption

The anatomical proximity of the cannabinoid type 1 (CNR1/CB1R) and the dopamine D2 receptors (DRD2), their ability to form CB1R–DRD2 heteromers, their opposing roles in locomotion, and their involvement in ethanol’s reinforcing and addictive properties prompted us to study the levels and distribution of CB1R after chronic ethanol intake, in the presence and absence of DRD2.
We monitored the drinking patterns and locomotor activity of Drd2+/+ and Drd2−/− mice consuming either water or a 20% (v/v) ethanol solution (forced ethanol intake) for 6 months and used the selective CB1 receptor antagonist [3H]SR141716A to quantify CB1R levels in different brain regions with in vitro receptor autoradiography.
We found that the lack of DRD2 leads to a marked upregulation (approximately 2-fold increase) of CB1R in the cerebral cortex, the caudate-putamen, and the nucleus accumbens, which was reversed by chronic ethanol intake.
The results suggest that DRD2-mediated dopaminergic neurotransmission and chronic ethanol intake exert an inhibitory effect on cannabinoid receptor expression in cortical and striatal regions implicated in the reinforcing and addictive properties of ethanol.

Read Full Abstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail:

The Investigation into CYP2E1 in Relation to the Level of Response to Alcohol Through a Combination of Linkage and Association Analysis

A low level of response to alcohol during an individual’s early experience with alcohol is associated with an increase risk of alcoholism. A family-based genome-wide linkage analysis using sibling pairs that underwent an alcohol challenge where the level of response to alcohol was measured with the Subjective High Assessment Scale (SHAS) implicated the 10q terminal (10qter) region. CYP2E1, a gene known for its involvement with ethanol metabolism, maps to this region.
Variance component multipoint linkage analysis was performed on a combined map of single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and microsatellite data. To account for the heterogeneity evident in the dataset, a calculation assuming locus heterogeneity was made using the Heterogeneity Log of Odds (HLOD) score. Association between SNP marker allele counts and copy number and SHAS scores were evaluated using a logistic regression model.
Linkage analysis detected significant linkage to CYP2E1, which was diminished because of apparent locus heterogeneity traced to a single family with extreme phenotypes. In retrospect, circumstances recorded during testing for this family suggest that their phenotype data are likely to be unreliable. Significant allelic associations were detected for several CYP2E1 polymorphisms and the SHAS score. DNA sequencing from families that contributed the greatest evidence for linkage did not detect any changes directly affecting the primary amino acid sequence. With the removal of a single family, combined evidence from microsatellites and SNPs offers significant linkage between the level of response to alcohol and the region on the end of chromosome 10.
Combined linkage and association indicate that sequence changes in or near CYP2E1CYP2E1 in the level of response to alcohol allows inferences to be made about how the brain perceives alcohol.

Read Full Abstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail: 

Adolescent Substance Abuse: The Effects of Alcohol and Marijuana on Neuropsychological Performance

Adolescence is a period in which cognition and brain undergo dramatic parallel development. Whereas chronic use of alcohol and marijuana is known to cause cognitive impairments in adults, far less is known about the effect of these substances of abuse on adolescent cognition, including possible interactions with developmental processes.
Neuropsychological performance, alcohol use, and marijuana use were assessed in 48 adolescents (ages 12 to 18), recruited in 3 groups: a healthy control group (HC, n = 15), a group diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence (SUD, n = 19), and a group with a family history positive for alcohol use disorder (AUD) but no personal substance use disorder (FHP, n = 14). Age, drinks per drinking day (DPDD), percentage days drinking, and percentage days using marijuana were considered as covariates in a MANCOVA in which 6 neuropsychological composites (Verbal Reasoning, Visuospatial Ability, Executive Function, Memory, Attention, and Processing Speed) served as dependent variables.
More DPDD predicted poorer performance on Attention and Executive Function composites, and more frequent use of marijuana was associated with poorer Memory performance. In separate analyses, adolescents in the SUD group had lower scores on Attention, Memory, and Processing Speed composites, and FHP adolescents had poorer Visuospatial Ability.
In combination, these analyses suggest that heavy alcohol use in adolescence leads to reduction in attention and executive functioning and that marijuana use exerts an independent deleterious effect on memory. At the same time, premorbid deficits associated with family history of AUD appeared to be specific to visuospatial ability.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

The Effects of Maternal Binge Drinking During Pregnancy on Neural Correlates of Response Inhibition and Memory in Childhood

Although an extensive literature has documented a broad range of cognitive performance deficits in children with prenatal alcohol exposure, little is known about how the neurophysiological processes underlying these deficits may be affected. Event-related potentials (ERPs), which reflect task-specific changes in brain electrical activity, provide a method for examining multiple constituents of cognitive processing at the neural level.
We recorded ERPs in 217 children from Inuit communities in Arctic Quebec (M age = 11.3 years) during 2 different tasks—Go/No-go response inhibition and continuous recognition memory. Children were classified as either alcohol-exposed (ALC) or controls (CON) depending on whether the mother reported binge drinking during pregnancy.
Both groups performed comparably in terms of accuracy and reaction time on the tasks, and both tasks elicited the expected effects on ERPs when responses were compared across conditions. However, the ALC group showed slower P2 latencies on Go/No-go, suggesting an altered neurophysiological response associated with initial visual processing of the stimuli. On the memory task, the ALC group showed reduced FN400 amplitude to New items, known as the familiarity effect, and reduced amplitude for the late positive component, possibly reflecting impairment in memory retrieval.
These findings show that, even in tasks in which alcohol-exposed children exhibit behavioral performance that is comparable to controls, fetal alcohol exposure is associated with altered neurophysiological processing of response inhibition and recognition memory. The data suggest that fetal alcohol exposure is associated with reduced efficiency in the initial extracting of the meaning of a stimulus, reduced allocation of attention to the task, and poorer conscious, explicit recognition memory processing.

Read Full Abstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail: 

A new method of prenatal alcohol classification accounting for dose, pattern and timing of exposure: improving our ability to examine fetal effects from low to moderate alcohol

When examining the association between prenatal alcohol exposure and fetal effects, the timing and intensity of exposure have been ignored in epidemiological studies. The effect of using dose, pattern and timing of consumption (“composite” method) was investigated in this study, to examine the association between prenatal alcohol exposure and fetal effects. 

The composite method resulted in six categories of exposure (abstinent, low, moderate, binge <1 and 1+ drinks per day and with stratification by quantity ignoring dose per occasion. Data used for the analyses were from a 10% random sample of non-Indigenous women delivering a live infant in Western Australia (1995–1997). Participants from the 1995-1996 cohort were invited to participate in an 8-year longitudinal survey (78% response rate n=2224; 85% were followed-up at 2 years, 73% at 5 years and 61% at 8 years). 

The effect of moderate and binge levels of exposure was only evident with the composite method; anxiety/depression following first-trimester moderate exposure (OR 2.24, 95% CI 1.16 to 4.34), and following late pregnancy moderate (aggressive behaviour OR 1.93, 95% CI 0.91 to 4.09) and binge (language delay OR 3.00, 95% CI 0.90 to 9.93) exposures. Results for heavy levels of exposure were similar with each method. The estimates for late pregnancy were imprecise due to small numbers. 

The composite method of classification more closely reflects real-life drinking patterns and better discriminates maternal drinking than the other methods, particularly low, moderate and binge levels.

Request Reprint E-Mail: 

Alcohol Awareness week: 18th October 2010 - is alcohol damaging childhood?

As Alcohol Awarness Week (AWW) kicks off from 18 to 24 October, a joint report from Alcohol Concern and the Children’s Society has been released:

The report identifies:
  • An estimated 2.6 million children live with a parent whose drinking puts them at risk of neglect, and 705,000 live with a dependent drinker
  • More than 100 children as young as five contacting ChildLine every week with worries about their parent's drinking
  • 78% of young offenders who misuse alcohol found to have grown up in homes with parental alcohol abuse and domestic abuse   > > > >   Read More

Monday, October 18, 2010

Higher Duties on Alcohol 'Won't Curb Abuse'

The government’s plans to raise excise duties on alcoholic beverages would have little effect on curbing alcohol abuse.
The government’s plans to raise excise duties on alcoholic beverages would have little effect on curbing alcohol abuse, South African Breweries (SAB) said on Friday. 

Discussions between the Treasury and the drinks industry started last month over increases to the benchmark level for excise duties levied on beer, wine and spirits.

In his February budget, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said a consultation process to raise the benchmarks would start this year, partly out of a need to curb abuse.
“While an increase in excise may have a short-term impact on overall consumption, alcohol abuse will not decline,” SAB spokeswoman Robyn Chalmers said.  > > > >

City high on booze list

The big city syndrome has caught on in Chandigarh. Its teenagers, the ones aged 15 to 19, have taken to alcohol at an alarming rate, with the numbers having increased 100% in the last 10 years. These shocking statistics pit Chandigarh youths only third to their peers in NCR- Delhi and Mumbai.

The problem of teenage drinking has been fuelled by absent parents, easy pocket money, cheap booze and rising stress among the urban young.    > > > >

Socioeconomic Risk Factors and Depressive Symptoms in Alcohol Use Disorders Among Male Suicides in South Tirol, Italy

The aim of the current study was to evaluate whether socioeconomics risk factors and depressive symptoms are associated with suicide in men with alcohol use disorders in South Tirol, Italy. 

The authors hypothesize that socioeconomics inequalities interact with greater psychopathology in men with alcohol use disorders who committed suicide. 

The authors found a positive association between unstable work positions and low educational attainment and alcohol use disorders in individuals who committed suicide. 

The results point to the need for careful assessment of subsyndromal depression in individuals with alcohol use disorders, especially when abuse is associated with socioeconomic risk factors such as lower educational attainment and unemployment or employment instability. 

Request  Reprint E-Mail:  

Sex Differences in Striatal Dopamine Release in Young Adults After Oral Alcohol Challenge: A Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Study With [11C]Raclopride

We used a positron emission tomography paradigm with the D2/3 radiotracer [11C]raclopride and an alcohol challenge to examine the magnitude of alcohol-induced dopamine release and compare it between young men and women.
Twenty-one nonalcohol-dependent young social drinkers completed two positron emission tomography scans on separate days following ingestion of a juice mix containing either ethanol (.75 mg/kg body water) or trace ethanol only. The extent of dopamine released after alcohol was estimated by the percentage difference in [11C]raclopride binding potential (ΔBPND) between days.
Alcohol administration significantly displaced [11C]raclopride in all striatal subregions, indicating dopamine release, with the largest effect observed in the ventral striatum. Linear mixed model analysis across all striatal subregions of regional ΔBPND with region of interest as repeated measure showed a highly significant effect of sex (p < .001). Ventrostriatal dopamine release in men, but not in women, showed a significant positive correlation to alcohol-induced measures of subjective activation. Furthermore, we found a significant negative correlation between the frequency of maximum alcohol consumption per 24 hours and ventrostriatal ΔBPND (r = .739, p = .009) in men.
This study provides definitive evidence that oral alcohol induces dopamine release in nonalcoholic human subjects and shows sex differences in the magnitude of this effect. The ability of alcohol to stimulate dopamine release may contribute to its rewarding effects and, thereby, to its abuse liability in humans. Our report further suggests several biological mechanisms that may mediate the difference in vulnerability for alcoholism between men and women.

Read Full Article    (PDF)

Lay and professional concepts of alcohol dependence in the process of recovery from addiction among treated and non-treated individuals in Poland: A qualitative study

The study identifies and categorizes concepts of addiction among treated and non-treated former alcohol dependents, and their function in the process of recovery from addiction within the post-communist treatment system dominated by the Minnesota model. 

This qualitative study is based on a media recruited sample of 29 former alcohol dependents (ICD-10) in Warsaw/Poland 2006/2007. 

They reported a recovery time of at least 2 years (Mrecovery=11, SD=9). In-depth interviews were analysed according to the Problem-Centred Interview method using Atlas.ti software. The applied triangulation procedures ensure reliability and validity of the data collected and the analysis of the narrative accounts. 

The results of the study show that professional concepts of addiction reconstructed on the basis of narratives from treated respondents resemble the disease model of addiction. 

A first category of lay concepts of self-changers adopt a medical–moral model of dependence including strong will as a key element of the successful recovery. 

A second category describes dependence as a symptom of maladaptive social functioning and recovery as a process of understanding one's role in society and fulfilling social expectations. 

While self-changers relied on one of these lay concepts, treated respondents were confronted with a conflict between lay and professional definition of dependence. 

It is argued that lack of recognition of lay concepts of addiction by treatment providers may weaken help-seeking and increase drop-out rates. 

The disease model implies the stability of the status of the alcoholic – which potentially weakens the individual's chance to reach the stage of stable recovery.

Request Reprint E-Mail:  

Alcohol News - 42/2010

Icenews (Iceland) - Reykjavik bars to be forced to close earlier
A majority of Reykjavik’s city council has voted to shorten the licensing hours of city centre premises selling alcohol at weekends. The bars with the latest closing times will be made to shut an hour earlier.
Read more

YLE News (Finland) - Police Chief Calls for Compulsory Breathalyzer Ignition Locks
Finland’s Police Commissioner, Mikko Paatero, has called for the compulsory installation of breathalyzer ignition locks and speed limit devices in all cars. In Paatero’s opinion the maximum permitted amount of alcohol in the blood while driving should be reduced to a level of 0.2 parts per one hundred milliliters.
Read more

BioMedCentral - The sociodemographic patterning of drinking and binge drinking in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, 1994–2002
Our results support the continued power of traditional drinking habits in the North Eastern part of Europe. In the future the target groups for prevention of excessive drinking should also include young and less-educated women in all four countries studied.
Read more (Sweden) - Alcohol Advertising in Sweden, UK and EU - a comparative study
The reason why the rules on the area of alcohol advertising differ so much is because Sweden and the UK have two completely different alcohol policies, which reflects on all other aspects of the handling of alcoholic beverages in the society.
Read more

Sky News (UK) - Warning Over Booze Cheaper Than Chocolate
Health groups have called for the Government to act to tackle the "plague" of illness caused by cheap alcohol.
Read more

The Guardian (UK) - Parents' drinking is damaging millions of children, say charities
Heavy drinking by parents is doing so much damage to children that a national inquiry into the scale of the problem is needed, two influential charities demand today.
Read more

TheMedGuru (India) - Alcohol consumption rises sharply among Indian teens—survey
The abuse of alcohol use among teenagers in India is escalating at what analysts say, is an alarming rate.
Read more

Dallas Morning News (USA) - Teen drinking lawsuit may publicize Texas' host law
provide alcohol to anyone under 21 except your own children. But many are unaware that under a law passed with little fanfare in 2005, they may be liable for damages caused by intoxication after knowingly allowing a minor under 18 to be served alcohol.
Read more

EurekAlert - Why are men more susceptible to alcoholism?
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances, and men are up to twice as likely to develop alcoholism as women. Until now, the underlying biology contributing to this difference in vulnerability has remained unclear.
Read more (New Zealand) - Supermarkets 'driving alcohol affordability'
Supermakets should be forced to supply their alcohol pricing data to the Government to prove they are not using it as a loss-leader, alcohol research groups say.
Read more

GhanaWeb (Ghana) - Navrongo Traditional Council bans alcohol consumption during funerals
The Navrongo Traditional Council in the Kassena-Nankana East District of the Upper East Region, has taken measures to stop the consumption of alcoholic beverages during funerals.
Read more

Medical News Today - Breast Cancer Risk Significantly Lower With Exercise, Body Weight Control And Drinking Less Alcohol
Regardless of whether or not you have a family history of breast cancer, your risk of developing the disease can be reduced considerably if you do exercise regularly, keep your body weight as near as possible to the ideal for your height and age, and consume less alcohol, say researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, New York, USA, who carried out a study involving over 85,000 postmenopausal women.
Read more

The Zimbabwe Standard (Zimbabwe) - Fierce opposition to planned booze ban
IMBIBERS and traders have roundly criticised government’s proposed regulations that will bar outlets from selling beer after 7pm on week days.
Read more

TIME - 4 Reasons Binge Drinking Is a Public Health Problem
One out of 3 adults and 2 out of 3 high school students who drink alcohol binge drink, according to recent government surveys. Startlingly, the data suggest that 90% of the alcohol consumed by high-school kids and more than half the alcohol consumed by adults is downed during the course of binge drinking.
Read more

TopNews United States (USA) - Justice System to Discuss the Issue of FASD among Prisoners
To discuss the problem of offenders affected with fetal alcohol syndrome and justice system’s approach towards it, a meeting will be held between Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and his provincial counterparts this week.
Read more

Irish Times (Ireland) - Is alcohol too cheap?
WHILE THE PRICE of everything else was rising at sometimes frightening speeds during the boom years, the cost of alcohol, one thing that might be considered fairly integral to Irish society was falling dramatically.
Read more

Read Full Newsletter 

Consumer Reports Insights: The pros and cons of drinking

People often justify their evening nightcap by pointing to alcohol's ability to protect the heart. But alcohol harms far more people than it helps. That's especially true for men, since they tend to drink more than women and are more likely to binge-drink.

The health benefits of alcohol come from moderate drinking, and most of the risks come from excessive consumption. So you may be tempted to say, "Alcohol may be bad for the population overall, but it's okay for me." 

While that may be generally true, there are exceptions.
Even moderate drinking can contribute to certain cancers, for example, so the risks may outweigh the benefits for people at high risk of those malignancies. And moderate drinking can cause more harm that good if it leads to excessive consumption. > >  > >

Read More

The European Alcohol and Health Forum - First Monitoring Progress Report

The European Alcohol and Health Forum was launched in June 2007 following the adoption by the European Commission in October 2006 of the EU strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm.

It began as a stakeholder platform of 50 founding members from production and sales organisations, media and advertising organisations, NGOs that work to limit alcohol-related harm, research organisations, professional bodies and others. 

Membership of the Forum is voluntary and members are expected to commit formally and publicly to concrete actions to reduce alcohol-related harm. 

These concrete actions are referred to as 'commitments'. Each commitment must be put in writing in a standardised commitment form, which also includes monitoring information. 

Such information includes details of the objectives of the commitments, resources allocated to them and outputs produced, as well as dissemination of the results of the commitments alongside other information. 

Read Full Report     (PDF)

The affordability of alcoholic beverages in the European Union

Alcohol has historically been consumed in an unproblematic way by many people across the European Union (EU). However, a significant proportion of alcohol consumption is problematic and generates harms for individuals and societies. 

Europe has the highest proportion of drinkers and the highest levels of alcohol consumption per population in the world. The high levels of alcohol consumption recorded in the EU have been linked to a number of public health and other problems, including violence and crime, diseases such as liver cirrhosis, lost productivity and absenteeism, family breakdown and accidental deaths. 

In spite of extensive evidence that raising alcohol prices reduces consumption on a societal level, the trend is that the real price of alcoholic beverages and the real value of alcohol taxation are decreasing across the EU. 

Against this background, the European Commission asked RAND Europe to conduct a study of the affordability of alcoholic beverages across the EU, and of the potential impacts of affordability on harmful use of alcohol. 

Specifically, the study is intended to provide evidence on whether alcohol affordability could be a useful policy lever to public authorities seeking to reduce harmful alcohol consumption in Europe. 

In order to do this, the study: 1) examines the link between the affordability of alcoholic beverages, alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms; 2) examines the impact of cross-border tax-driven or competition-driven price differentials; and 3) investigates the policy levers that can influence the affordability of alcohol, by providing an overview of current alcohol pricing policies in place across the EU. 

Read Full Report    (PDF)

Risky single-occasion drinking: bingeing is not bingeing

To review the concept of binge drinking as a measure of risky single occasion drinking (RSOD), to illustrate its differential impact on selected health outcomes and to identify research gaps.
Narrative literature review with focus on conceptual and methodological differences, trajectories of RSOD and effects of RSOD on fetal outcomes, coronary heart disease (CHD) and injuries.
Effects ascribed commonly to RSOD may often be the effects of an undifferentiated mixture of risky single occasions and regular heavy volume drinking, constituted by frequent, successive RSOD. This leads to the problem that additional risks due to RSOD are mis-specified and remain unidentified or underestimated in some cases, such as for injuries or CHD, but are probably overstated for some chronic consequences or for effects of maternal drinking on newborns.
A stronger focus should be placed upon methods that can differentiate the effects of RSOD from those due to frequent occasions of heavy drinking that result in heavy volume drinking.

Read Full Article    (PDF)


Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Risk of Birth Defects

The goal was to examine the associations between dose, pattern, and timing of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and birth defects.

Data from a randomly selected, population-based cohort of nonindigenous women who gave birth to a live infant in Western Australia (WA) between 1995 and 1997 (N = 4714) were linked to WA Midwives Notification System and WA Birth Defects Registry data. We assessed the associations of PAE before pregnancy, in the first trimester, and in late pregnancy with any birth defect and with birth defects classified as alcohol-related birth defects (ARBDs) by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), by using logistic regression.

The prevalence of birth defects classified as ARBDs by the IOM was low. Compared with abstinence, heavy PAE in the first trimester was associated with increased odds of birth defects classified as ARBDs (adjusted odds ratio: 4.6 [95% confidence interval: 1.5–14.3]), with similar findings after validation through bootstrap analysis. There was no association between low or moderate PAE and birth defects.

A fourfold increased risk of birth defects classified as ARBDs was observed after heavy PAE in the first trimester. Many individual birth defects included in the IOM classification for ARBDs either were not present in this cohort or were not associated with PAE. Large, population-based studies are needed to strengthen the evidence base for ARBDs.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Alcohol Consumption Over Time and Risk of Lymphoid Malignancies in the California Teachers Study Cohort

Several previous studies found inverse associations between alcohol consumption and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma. 

However, most studies were retrospective, and few distinguished former drinkers or infrequent drinkers from consistent nondrinkers. 

Therefore, the authors investigated whether history of alcohol drinking affected risks of NHL and multiple myeloma among 102,721 eligible women in the California Teachers Study, a prospective cohort study in which 496 women were diagnosed with B-cell NHL and 101 were diagnosed with multiple myeloma between 1995–1996 and December 31, 2007. 

Incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. 

Risk of all types of B-cell NHL combined or multiple myeloma was not associated with self-reported past consumption of alcohol, beer, wine, or liquor at ages 18–22 years, at ages 30–35 years, or during the year before baseline.

NHL subtypes were inconsistently associated with alcohol intake. 

However, women who were former alcohol drinkers at baseline were at elevated risk of overall B-cell NHL (rate ratio = 1.46, 95% confidence interval: 1.08, 1.97) and follicular lymphoma (rate ratio = 1.81, 95% confidence interval: 1.00, 3.28). 

The higher risk among former drinkers emphasizes the importance of classifying both current and past alcohol consumption and suggests that factors related to quitting drinking, rather than alcohol itself, may increase B-cell NHL risk. 

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Procysteine Increases Alcohol-depleted Glutathione Stores in Rat Plantaris Following a Period of Abstinence

To assess the effectiveness of procysteine (PRO) supplementation provided during a period of abstinence (ABS) on alcohol-induced skeletal muscle atrophy and oxidant stress.  

Age- and gender-matched Sprague–Dawley rats were fed the Lieber–DeCarli liquid diet containing either alcohol or an isocaloric substitution (control diet) for 12 week. Next, subgroups of alcohol-fed rats were fed the control diet for 2 week (ABS) supplemented with either PRO (0.35%, w/v) or vehicle. Plantaris morphology was assessed by hematoxylin and eosin staining. Total, reduced and oxidized glutathione (GSH) levels and total antioxidant potential were determined by commercially available assay kits. Antibody arrays were used to determine cytokine levels. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to determine gene expressions of two E3 ubiquitin ligases, atrogin-1 and muscle ring finger protein-1 (MuRF-1).
Plantaris muscles from alcohol-fed rats displayed extensive atrophy, as well as decreased GSH levels, a trend for decreased total antioxidant potential and elevated atrogin-1 and MuRF-1 mRNA levels. GSH levels and total antioxidant potential continued to decrease during 2 weeks of ABS from alcohol, which were normalized in abstinent rats provided PRO. Gene levels of both E3 ligases returned to baseline during ABS. In parallel, plantaris cross-sectional area increased in both groups during ABS.  

PRO supplementation during ABS significantly attenuated alcohol-induced redox stress compared with untreated abstinent rats. Thus, our data may suggest that GSH restoration therapy may provide therapeutic benefits to the overall antioxidant state of skeletal muscle when prescribed in conjunction with an established detoxification program for recovering alcoholics. 

Read Full Article     (PDF) 

Clinical Predictors of Outcome from an Australian Pharmacological Relapse Prevention Trial

To assess which baseline characteristics of patients predict response to treatment with acamprosate (ACAMP) and naltrexone (NTX) in alcohol dependence.  

Outcome data from a 12-week randomized controlled trial of NTX, ACAMP and placebo for alcohol dependence were analysed by multiple logistic regression analyses to determine the predictive effects of gender and the baseline measures of dependence severity, craving, depression, anxiety and readiness to change in addition to NTX and ACAMP treatment. Moderators of the effect of each medication on outcomes were also examined. 

Relapse was predicted by the interaction terms of ACAMP and alcohol dependence severity, NTX and depression as well as NTX and the readiness to change measure Taking Steps. Abstinence was similarly predicted by the interaction term ACAMP and alcohol dependence severity.  

The efficacy of NTX and ACAMP in reducing relapse or lapse is influenced by different clinical characteristics. 

Request Reprint E-Mail: