Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Cardiovascular benefits of popular foods – some are quite good!

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 4.39.28 AM.png

From  A Clinician’s Guide for Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies: Part II

July 21, 2018 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions
·http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/pickyourpoison/
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 5.56.03 AM

 


It’s not hard to see why our readers loved this thought-provoking expose of America’s long history with mind-altering substances. In fact, the ad for Cocaine Toothache Drops (contemporarily priced at 15 cents) alone is worth a trip to this colorful and well curated site. Lesson plans and online activities help educators illustrate how the United States has handled the thin and shifting line between useful medical prescriptions and harmful, illicit substances.

Over a century ago, it was not uncommon to find cocaine in treatments for asthma, cannabis offered up as a cure for colds, and other contentious substances offered as medical prescriptions. This engaging collection from the U.S. National Library of Medicine brings together sections on tobacco, alcohol, opium, and marijuana. Visitors can learn about how these substances were marketed and also view a selection of digitized items culled from its voluminous holdings, including advertisements, doctor’s prescriptions, and early government documents. In the Education section, educators can look over lesson plans, check out online activities, and explore online resources from the National Institutes of Health, such as, “A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine” and “College Drinking: Changing the Culture.”

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] The Darker Side of the ‘Love Hormone’

From the 21 May 2015 Discover article

Oxytocin in Humans

In our own species, oxytocin has been shown to inhibit men already in relationships from approaching other attractive women; enhance activation of the brain’s reward systems when they see their partner’s face compared to other attractive women and help couples deal positively with conflict.

Along with other functions, mainly in the formation of mother-infant bonding, the rosy glow of the “love hormone” seems to know no bounds – and its potential application for helping to cement and maintain loving relationships is clear. Its effects on facilitating social interaction have made it an appealing possible therapeutic tool in patients who struggle with social situations and communication, including in autism, schizophrenia and mood or anxiety disorders.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 6.06.09 AM

Even better, it is very easy to use. All the human studies on it use intranasal sprays to boost oxytocin levels. These sprays are readily available, including through the internet, and appear safe to use, at least in the short term – no one yet knows whether there is any long-term harm.

Adverse Effects

In the past few years, however, concerns expressed by some researchers have begun to rein in the enthusiasm about the potential applications of oxytocin as a therapeutic tool.

Recent studies are showing that the positive effects can be much weaker – or even detrimental – in those that need it the most. In contrast to socially competent or secure individuals, exposure can reduce cooperativeness and trust in those prone to social anxiety. It also increases inclination for violencetowards intimate partners. Although this is seen only in people who tend to be more aggressive in general, these would be the same people who might have most to gain from such a treatment, were it available.

These apparently paradoxical effects are hard to explain, particularly since the brain mechanisms responsible are still poorly understood. But a new study may help to provide the answer. A team from the University of Birmingham decided to tackle the issue by comparing studies on the effects of oxytocin with those of alcohol and were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds.

Alcohol and Oxytocin

Like oxytocin, alcohol can have helpful effects in social situations. It increases generosity, fosters bonding within groups and suppresses the action of neural inhibitions on social behavior, including fear, anxiety and stress.

But, of course, acute alcohol consumption also comes with significant downsides. Aside from the health implications of chronic use, it interferes with recognition of emotional facial expression, influences moral judgementsand increases risk-taking and aggression. And as with oxytocin, the increase in aggression is limited to those who have an existing disposition to it.

The researchers argue that the striking similarities in behavioral outcome tell us something about the biological mechanisms involved. Although oxytocin and alcohol target different brain receptors, activation of these receptors appear to produce analogous physiological effects. Indeed, they also note similarities with how other compounds work, including benzodiazepines, which are commonly used to treat anxiety. Our understanding of how one chemical elicits its effects might thus help us to understand the action of the others.

But, if this new interpretation is correct, it may presage further bad press for the love hormone. It may be that the darkening clouds that threaten to tarnish its reputation are only just beginning to gather. At the very least, it should give us cause for careful evaluation before we rush into using it as a remedy.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Future generations could inherit drug and alcohol use

Future generations could inherit drug and alcohol use.

HUNTSVILLE, TX (3/20/14) — Parents who use alcohol, marijuana, and drugs have higher frequencies of children who pick up their habits, according to a study from Sam Houston State University.

The study, “Intergenerational Continuity of Substance Use,” found that when compared to parents who did not use substances, parents who used alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs were significantly more likely to have children who used those same drugs. Specifically, the odds of children’s alcohol use were five times higher if their parents used alcohol; the odds of children’s marijuana use were two times higher if their parents used marijuana; and the odds of children’s other drug use were two times higher if their parent used other drugs. Age and other demographic factors also were important predictors of substance use.

HarmCausedByDrugsTable

HarmCausedByDrugsTable (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Source “Scoring drugs”, The Economist, data from “Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis”, by David Nutt, Leslie King and Lawrence Phillips, on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. The Lancet. 2010 Nov 6;376(9752):1558-65. d

“The study is rare in that it assesses the extent to which parent’s substance use predicts use by their children within age-equivalent and developmentally-specific stages of the life course,” said Dr. Kelly Knight of the College Criminal Justice’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “If a parent uses drugs, will their children grow up and use drugs? When did the parent use and when did their children use? There appears to be an intergenerational relationship. The effect is not as strong as one might believe from popular discourse, but when you measure it by developmental stage, it can provide important information on its impact in adolescence and early adulthood, specifically.”

The study examined the patterns of substance use by families over a 27-year period. It documents substance use over time, giving a more complete understanding of when substance use occurs, when it declines, and the influence of parents in the process.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2011, about 22.6 million Americans age 12 years and older said they used illicit drugs in the last month. Other studies show that drug use is associated with reduced academic achievement, lower employment rates, poorer health, dependency on public assistance, neighborhood disorganization, and an increase in the likelihood of involvement in crime, criminal victimization and incarceration. The cost of drug use in this country from lost productivity, healthcare, and criminal justice is nearly $600 billion.

By plotting the life course of substance use within families, the study may be a valuable tool for the development of intervention programs. The study suggests that if substance use can be curtailed in adolescence, it may help to curb its prevalence in future generations.

The study also helps pinpoint the use of different illicit substances over the span of a lifetime, including its emergence in adolescence and when that use may decline. For example, marijuana and other drug use is most prevalent in adolescence and generally declines before or at age 24. Alcohol use continues to increase throughout adolescence and young adulthood, and then remains relatively steady over the lifetime.

These findings come from the National Youth Survey Family Study, which has collected data from three generations over a 27-year period. The analysis is based on 655 parents and 1,227 offspring from 1977 to 2004.

Enhanced by Zemanta

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Sleeping problems? Taking A Pill Or Drinking Alcohol Might Not Be Best Option

Sleeping problems? Taking A Pill Or Drinking Alcohol Might Not Be Best Option

From the Medical News Today article of Fri Dec 2, 2011

According to a new study by Ryerson University experts published in the December issue of Behavior Therapy, taking a sleeping pill or drinking alcohol may not be the most effective way to get a better night sleep in the long run for people suffering from insomnia. Heather Hood, a PhD student in clinical psychology and lead researcher of the study comments: “Poor sleepers who engage in what we call ‘safety behaviors’, such as taking sleep medication or drinking alcohol, are actually disrupting their sleep in the long term…

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Excessive Drinking Costs U.S. $223.5 Billion

 

 

Chart: 1 drink = $1.90 in economic cost.

Excessive Drinking Costs U.S. $223.5 Billion
A new CDC study finds that excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or about $1.90 per drink.

From the Web site

Excessive alcohol consumption is known to kill about 79,000 people in the United States each year, but a new study released by the CDC and The Lewin Group shows that it also has a huge impact on our wallets as well.

The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States reached $223.5 billion in 2006 or about $1.90 per drink. Almost three-quarters of these costs were due to binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women or five or more drinks per occasion for men, and is the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States.

The researchers found that the cost of excessive drinking was quite far-reaching, reflecting the effect this dangerous behavior has on many aspects of the drinker’s life and on the lives of those around them. The costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72% of the total cost), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11% of total), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9% of total), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6% of the total).

What You Need to Know About Binge Drinking

  • Binge drinking is reported by about 15% of U.S. adults.
  • Binge drinking is most common among men, 18- to 34-year-olds, whites, and people with household incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • Most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent.

How Can We Prevent Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Reduce Its Economic Costs?

There are many evidence-based strategies that communities can use to prevent excessive drinking, including the following:

  • Increasing alcohol excise taxes.
  • Reducing alcohol outlet density.
  • Reducing the days and hours of alcohol sales.
  • Holding alcohol retailers liable for injuries or damage done by their intoxicated or underage customers.

By implementing these evidence-based strategies, we can reduce excessive alcohol consumption and the many health and social costs related to it….

Read the entire article and link to further information


October 29, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Rat Study Sheds Light on How Alcohol Affects Young Brain

Rat Study Sheds Light on How Alcohol Affects Young Brain
Drinking at an early age may have long-lasting repercussions for decision-making, risk-taking

HealthDay news image

 


From the March 17 2011 Health Day news item by Robert Preidt

THURSDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) — Based on the results of a new study conducted with rats, researchers say that kids who drink alcohol may have trouble with decision-making in adulthood.

Alcohol consumption during adolescence can change the perception of risk but does not affect how rewards are valued, the University of Washington researchers found.

The investigators studied decision-making in adult rats that had been given free access to alcohol when they were adolescents. The researchers measured changes in the neurotransmitter dopamine when the rats were offered rewards alone and also in response to cues predicting risky or certain outcomes.

“Dopamine is central to the way we process and evaluate rewards and is the primary target in the brain for virtually all abused drugs,” study author Jeremy J. Clark, an acting assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, explained in a university news release.

In the rats, alcohol use during adolescence increased dopamine signaling to risky options but did not affect responses to rewards.

“Alcohol is corrupting the ability to make a good decision by altering the perception of risk. It doesn’t appear to be about the reward,” Clark said.

The study was published March 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.***

***For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost click here

 

 

 


March 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence mounting on the harms of alcohol industry sponsorship of sport

Evidence mounting on the harms of alcohol industry sponsorship of sport

From the February 1, 2011 Eureka news alert

While policy makers in Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand debate whether alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be banned from sport, new research provides evidence that alcohol industry sponsorship is associated with more hazardous drinking in sportspeople compared to non-alcohol sponsorship.

Health scientists from Monash University, the University of Manchester, Deakin University and University of Western Sydney, asked Australian sportspeople about their drinking behaviours, sport participation, and what sorts of sport sponsorship they currently receive.

After accounting for other influences receipt of alcohol industry sponsorship in various forms was associated with significantly higher levels of drinking. Receipt of similar forms of sponsorship from non-alcohol industries such as, building firms, food or clothing companies was not related to higher drinking levels.

Of the 30 per cent of sportspeople reporting receiving alcohol industry sponsorship, 68 per cent met World Health Organisation criteria for classification as hazardous drinkers.

The research, published online in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, is the first to compare alcohol industry sponsorship to non-alcohol industry sponsorship…..

….

Sport is being misused to promote alcohol to sportspeople and the general population. The public do not need more encouragement to drink, and there are ways of replacing alcohol advertising and sponsorship dollars in sport,” Dr O’Brien said.

“Much like was done with tobacco, a proportion of the excise duty currently gathered by governments from alcohol sales could be ring fenced (hypothecated) for funding sport and cultural events. This would replace alcohol industry funding many times over,” Dr O’Brien said.

Norway and France have had longstanding bans in place with little apparent effect on sport, and this year Turkey banned all alcohol advertising and sponsorship of sport. France successfully hosted the 1998 FIFA World Cup with their alcohol sponsorship and advertising ban in place, and currently host the multi-nation Heineken Cup Rugby competition, renamed the H-Cup in France….

…Deakin University scientist Dr Peter Miller said “This study provides new evidence of the harms associated with alcohol industry sponsorship of sport and we believe that any sporting association serious about the well-being of young people should support calls for governments to provide alternative funding. It’s simply not worth gambling with their future for the sake of some easy money.”

 

 

 

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Booze Tax Hikes May Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems

Higher costs have even greater impact than drinking prevention programs, analysis finds

Excerpts from the Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) — Boosting taxes on alcohol leads to lower rates of alcohol-related disease, injury, death and crime, researchers say.

University of Florida investigators analyzed 50 published papers that estimated the health and social effects of alcohol taxes or prices. The study authors concluded that higher alcohol taxes have a greater impact than drinking prevention programs.

The findings “clearly show increasing the price of alcohol will result in significant reductions in many of the undesirable outcomes associated with drinking,” lead author Alexander C. Wagenaar, a professor of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said in a news release from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In a news release issued Thursday afternoon, Distilled Spirits Council Vice President Lisa Hawkins said: “Numerous studies, including research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, show that alcohol abusers are the least sensitive to tax increases. It is the moderate responsible consumer who cuts back the most when prices rise.

“According to scientific studies, moderate alcohol consumption is associated with the lowest all-cause mortality compared to non-drinkers. It makes no sense to penalize moderate drinkers to pay for the abuse of a few, particularly when raising taxes will not reduce problems associated with abuse. For example, according to government statistics, there is no relationship between alcohol excise tax rates and alcohol-related traffic fatalities,” she said.

September 26, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: