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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

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

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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.***

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

Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol- WHO report

Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol

February 17, 2011 20:30

From the  WHO (World Health Organization) press release:

Wider implementation of policies is needed to save lives and reduce the health impact of harmful alcohol drinking, says a new report by WHO. Harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 2.5 million people annually, causes illness and injury to many more, and increasingly affects younger generations and drinkers in developing countries.

Alcohol use is the third leading risk factor for poor health globally. A wide variety of alcohol-related problems can have devastating impacts on individuals and their families and can seriously affect community life. The harmful use of alcohol is one of the four most common modifi able and preventable risk factors for major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). There is also emerging evidence that the harmful use of alcohol contributes to the health burden caused by communicable diseases such as, for example, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Read the report

Related WHO Web pages

Related Resources
  • Rethinking Drinking provides research-based information about how your drinking habits can affect your health. Learn to recognize the signs of alcohol problems and ways to cut back or quit drinking. Interactive tools can also help you calculate the calories and alcohol content of drinks. (US National Institutes of Health)

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 in 4 High School Students and Young Adults Report Binge Drinking


[http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinking/]

Excerpts from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Oct 5 press release

More than 1 in 4 high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in a dangerous behavior known as binge drinking during the past month, according to the findings from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report shows that each year more than 33 million adults have reported binge drinking, defined as having four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time, usually a couple of hours. And the report said levels of binge drinking have not declined during the past 15 years.

The CDC report found men are more than twice as likely to binge drink than women (21 percent compared to 10 percent). It said binge drinking is more common among non-Hispanic whites (16 percent of whom binge drink) than among non-Hispanic blacks, (10 percent of whom binge drink).

“Binge drinking, increases many health risks, including fatal car crashes, contracting a sexually transmitted disease, dating violence, and drug overdoses,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Excessive alcohol use remains the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States and leads to a wide range of health and social problems.”

[snip]

“Alarmingly, almost 1 in 3 adults and 2 in 3 high school students who drink alcohol also binge drink, which usually leads to intoxication,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, M.D., M.P.H., alcohol program leader at CDC and one of the authors of the report. “Although most binge drinkers are not alcohol-dependent or alcoholics, they often engage in this high risk behavior without realizing the health and social problems of their drinking. States and communities need to consider further strategies to create an environment that discourages binge drinking.”

Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 79,000 deaths in the United States each year. Binge drinkers also put themselves and others at risk of car crashes, violence, the risk of HIV transmission and sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancy. Over time, drinking too much can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. Binge drinking can also cause harm to a developing fetus, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, if a woman drinks while pregnant.

Binge drinking varies widely from state to state, with estimates of binge drinking for adults ranging from 6.8 percent in Tennessee to 23.9 percent in Wisconsin. It is most common in the Midwest, North Central Plains, lower New England, Delaware, Alaska, Nevada, and the District of Columbia.

For more information on binge drinking, visit www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns or www.cdc.gov/alcohol. Members of the public who are concerned about their own or someone else’s binge drinking can call 1-800-662-HELP to receive assistance from the national Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service. For state-specific estimates of alcohol-related deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) by condition, visit the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) system athttps://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/ardi/HomePage.aspx.

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | 1 Comment

   

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