Older People at Greater Risk for Alcohol Impairment

Older People May Be at Greater Risk for Alcohol Impairment than Teens, According to Baylor Study

An acute dose of alcohol may cause greater impairment in coordination, learning and memory in the elderly than in young people, according to a study by Baylor University.

Researchers said the findings have profound significance for older people –a population that is aging worldwide at an unprecedented rate and that includes Baby Boomers as they become senior citizens.

“Health implications such as falls, accidents and poor medicine-taking are pretty easy to conclude,” said Douglas B. Matthews, Ph.D., senior author of the paper, published online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

In the United States, as many as 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women over age 65 engage in risky drinking behavior, with an estimated 1 to 3 percent of those afflicted with an alcohol use disorder, according to prior research. Because of improvements in medicine and public health, nutrition and education, people 65 and older will account for 20 percent of the U.S. population by the year 2030, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

While previous data have indicated that aged people show significantly greater impairments than younger adults when alcohol is consumed, understanding the neurobiology underlying that increased sensitivity in the aged has been hampered by the lack of an adequate animal model, said Matthews, a research scientist in psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and head of psychology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The Baylor research, the first of its kind, established a baseline of the acute effects of alcohol in aged populations, which can aid future research into neurobiology and in determining the effect of prolonged alcohol abuse.

The experiment included adult and aged rats (at least 18 months old), Matthews said. It showed a dramatic increase in ethanol-induced ataxia.

“We know a lot of neurobiological changes occur during aging which underlie age-related cognitive and behavioral deficits. It’s reasonable to suspect a significant interaction exists between age-related and alcohol-induced effects in the brain,” said Jim Diaz-Granados, Ph.D., a study co-author, chair of Baylor’s department of psychology and neuroscience, and chair of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology, a national organization.

“Our hope would be that further findings in this area will serve as a basis to educate the public regarding the risks and provide insights in the clinic,” Diaz-Granados said.

Findings were presented at the Research Society of Alcoholism conference in San Francisco. Also conducting research in the study was Adelle Novier, a doctoral student in psychology and neuroscience at Baylor.

Parents and children both affected by substance misuse

Children and teenagers recognised too as perpetrators

A new report has identified parents as sufferers of abuse and violence from substance misusing children. The report by Adfam and Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) explores and documents Child to Parent Violence (CPV) and consulted with 88 parents seeking support from services.

Key findings from the research found:
  • Children as young as 11 and as old as 40 are physically, emotionally and/or mentally abusing their parents
  • There is a significant correlation between substance misuse and perpetrating domestic violence
  • 88% of victims of abuse were female and 12% were male
  • That abuses range from lower grade emotional manipulation to at the extreme end deaths.
  • Metropolitan Police Service records show that in 2009, 6 out of 7 non-partner/ex partner victims were mothers or fathers killed by sons – with substance misuse or mental health problems considered a key factor

The report makes recommendation including calls for better understanding of CPV, how to respond to requests for help and referral mechanisms are needed for front-line workers (such as police, social workers and GPs. It argues family support services are a cost effective resource, providing essential support to parents at a fraction of the cost that other health and social care services.

Children’s Commissioner re-iterates calls for protection of children

A new report from the Children’s Commissioner urges the Government to give as much attention to alcohol abuse among parents as to other drug misuse, and to train the relevant authorities to spot the signs of problem drinking in families earlier. See BBC report.

The Children’s Commissioner exists to promote the best interests of children and young people in England. It’s report suggest more than a fifth of all children in the UK, approximately 2.5 million, are living with a hazardous drinker (risky) drinker. The research also suggests 26,000 babies in England are living with a parent who is a dependent drinker, which is equivalent to 31,000 across the UK.

Teens Use Diverted Medical Marijuana

74 Percent of Teens in CO Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Used Diverted Medical Marijuana

Three-quarters of teenage patients in substance abuse treatment programs in Denver, Colorado said they used someone else’s medical marijuana, according to a new study.

The study revealed that 121 of 164 teenage patients (73.8 percent) have ever used medical marijuana prescribed to someone else.  Patients reported using diverted medical marijuana from one to 1,000 times, with a median of 50 times, suggesting that most adolescent patients have used medical marijuana on multiple occasions, according to Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Division of Substance Dependence. She reported the findings at the recent College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and the study appears online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The study found that after adjusting for gender and race/ethnicity, teenage patients who used medical marijuana had an earlier age of regular marijuana use, more marijuana abuse and dependence symptoms, and more conduct disorder symptoms, compared with those who did not use medical marijuana.

As of the end of April 2012, Colorado has 48 registered medical marijuana users under the age of 18. Four of the 164 teenage patients in the study reported being evaluated for a medical marijuana card; however, only one teenage patient received a medical marijuana card. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 96,709 people in the state were registered as medical marijuana users as of April 30, 2012. This means 2.5 percent of the adults in Colorado are registered medical marijuana users, according to Salomonsen-Sautel.

“We don’t know what proportion of the marijuana they are using is medical marijuana,” Salomonsen-Sautel notes. She said the findings imply that there is substantial diversion from registered medical marijuana users. She and her colleagues say the results support the need for policy changes that protect against diversion of medical marijuana, and reduce teenager access to it.

From; The Partnership at Drugfree.org and Join Together

Alcohol Abuse Screenings at the Dentist

Health experts have warned that people who consume alcohol excessively are exposed to an extremely high risk of developing dental disease and mouth cancer.

Experts have also noted that in order to be able to keep things under control, treatment and constant screenings for alcohol abuse is extremely important. The published paper has been called “Alcohol misuse: screening and treatment in primary dental care”.

The study has also brought to light the fact that people generally do not visit their doctor (GP), unless they are extremely ill. On the other hand, people generally respect their regular dental visits, and therefore dentists are the professionals mostly suited to test patients for alcohol abuse issues.

If health professionals would start asking a few standard questions regarding the patient’s alcoholism problem, it would be much easier to help the patient fight against these issues.

Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Jonathan Shepherd clearly points out that people struggling with excessive alcohol consumption can develop cancer of the mouth, esophagus and larynx. The dental professionals may actually be the first who can discover these health complications.

There should be introduced an alcohol screening device which is extremely reliable and which can detect alcoholism, and then suggest the right path for treatment.

The paper notes that today in the UK approximately 1 in 5 men and 1 in 7 women are drinking excessively. If dental professionals would be the first to suggest the patient the importance of moderation in drinking, both the health and economic implications linked to excessive alcohol consumption could be considerably reduced.

Professor Shepherd further reveals that one of the main responsibilities of the dentist is to promote overall good health.

They are not only responsible for dental health promotion, but also for helping the patient fight off bad habits that lead to severe oral health complications, or to severe damages in any other major organ of the body.

The Government and the dentists should join their forces and provide proper screenings and treatments before it is not too late for the patient.

Alcohol and Cancer

alcohol and cancer Alcohol and cancer: a position statement from Cancer Council Australia – 2011

The Cancer Council Australia (CCA) Alcohol Working Group has prepared a position statement on alcohol use and cancer. The statement has been reviewed by external experts and endorsed by the CCA Board.

  • Alcohol use is a cause of cancer. Any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer; the level of risk increases in line with the level of consumption.
  • It is estimated that 5070 cases of cancer (or 5% of all cancers) are attributable to long-term chronic use of alcohol each year in Australia.
  • Together, smoking and alcohol have a synergistic effect on cancer risk, meaning the combined effects of use are significantly greater than the sum of individual risks.
  • Alcohol use may contribute to weight (fat) gain, and greater body fatness is a convincing cause of cancers of the oesophagus, pancreas, bowel, endometrium, kidney and breast (in postmenopausal women).
  • The existing evidence does not justify the promotion of alcohol use to prevent coronary heart disease, as the previously reported role of alcohol in reducing heart disease risk in light-to-moderate drinkers appears to have been overestimated.
  • CCA recommends that to reduce their risk of cancer, people limit their consumption of alcohol, or better still avoid alcohol altogether.

For individuals who choose to drink alcohol, CCA recommends that they drink only within the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for alcohol consumption.

Full story at; Alcohol and Cancer

Alcohol and cancer: a position statement from Cancer Council Australia. Margaret H Winstanley, Iain S Pratt, Kathryn Chapman, Hayley J Griffin, Emma J Croager, Ian N Olver, Craig Sinclair and Terry J Slevin. Medical Journal of Australia 2011; 194 (9): 479-482

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter | zen habits.

Lately, I’ve been on a clutter-clearing frenzy. For me, as for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and sweeping away a bunch of unloved, unused stuff has given me a huge happiness boost.

As I sifted through our possessions, I identified nine questions to ask myself when I was confronted with a questionable object. This list helped me decide what to keep and what to toss, recycle, or give away.

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter | zen habits

Drop in Alaskan Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Alaska’s fetal alcohol syndrome rate fell 32 percent between 1996-2002

During that time, the rate among Alaska Native births dropped by half
(Anchorage, AK) — Alaska Native babies were born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) half as often around the year 2000 as they were five to seven years earlier, Department of Health and Social Services researchers found in an analysis of Alaska Birth Defects Registry data. That change brought the state’s overall rate from 1996 to 2002 down by a third, researchers reported in the State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin released yesterday.

“This reduction is what we’ve been striving for, and continue to strive for,” said Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan. “FAS and other conditions collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are one of the most common causes of developmental disabilities and the only cause that is entirely preventable.”

In 1998, Alaska and three other states with high rates of maternal alcohol consumption were selected for a four-year project through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project developed a system to track birth defects caused by maternal drinking, and established by 2002 that Alaska’s rate was far higher than the other three states; the highest in the nation.

The analysis found the rate among Alaska Native births decreased to 32.4 children with FAS per 10,000 live births from 63.1 (down 49 percent); the rate increased from 3.7 to 6.1 among non-Native births (not a statistically significant change.) Alaska’s overall rate dropped to 13.5 from 20.0. The analysis ends with births in 2002 in order to incorporate doctors’ reports of suspected birth defects caused by maternal drinking. Doctors have until children are 6 to make that mandatory report.

A major joint federal-state prevention and education effort ran from 1991 to 1996, with a second running from 1998 to 2006, said L. Diane Casto, manager of Prevention and Early Intervention Services for the Division of Behavioral Health.

“We can’t absolutely link the decrease to our prevention efforts, but the timing strongly suggests that it was a major factor,” Casto said. “This is clear encouragement that we can change these statistics which represent so much lost potential and needless heartbreak.”

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Janine Schoellhorn, the state public health epidemiologist who led the analysis, said the Alaska Native rate was 17 times higher than the non-Native rate in the first group of children, those born in 1996 through 1998; for those born in 2000 through 2002, the Native rate was down to five times higher.

“That’s really, really impressive,” Schoellhorn said. An analysis of data from 2003 forward is underway.

The State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin is posted online at http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/catlist.jsp?cattype=Fetal+Alcohol+Syndrome+(FAS)