Deaths Fall When Alcohol Price Increases

Drop in alcohol related deaths by nearly a third follows minimum alcohol price increase of 10%

A new study made available online today in ‘Addiction’ shows that, between 2002 and 2009, the percentage of deaths caused by alcohol in British Columbia, Canada dropped more than expected when minimum alcohol price was increased, while alcohol-related deaths increased when more private alcohol stores were opened. The paper has significant implications for international alcohol policy.

The study was carried out by researchers from British Columbia, the westernmost province in Canada, using three categories of death associated with alcohol – wholly alcohol attributable (AA), acute, and chronic*, analysing death rates across the time period against increases in government set minimum prices of alcohol drinks.

The study was complicated by another provincial policy which allowed partial privatisation of alcohol retail sales, resulting in a substantial expansion of alcohol stores.  Previously, alcohol could only be sold directly to the public in government owned stores, unlike in Europe where it is widely available in supermarkets, off-licences and petrol stations.  The researchers therefore had to both control for the effects of the wider availability of alcohol, and assess what effect this measure had on mortality rates.

The major finding was that increased minimum alcohol prices were associated with immediate, substantial and significant reductions in wholly AA deaths:

A 10% increase in the average minimum price for all alcoholic beverages was associated with a 32% reduction in wholly AA deaths

Some of the effect was also detected up to a year after minimum price increases

Significant reductions in chronic and total AA deaths were detected between two and three years after minimum price increases

A 10% increase in private liquor stores was associated with a 2% increase in acute, chronic, and total AA mortality rates

This overall drop in deaths was more than expected, and disproportionate to the size of the minimum price increase – a minimum price increase of 1% was associated with a mortality decline of more than 3%.

The authors suggest that the reason for the reduction in mortality is that increasing the price of cheaper drinks reduces the consumption of heavier drinkers who prefer these drinks. They note that other research has also suggested that impacts on some types of mortality may be delayed by one or two years after price increases.

Dr Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia and a lead author, said “This study adds to the scientific evidence that, despite popular opinion to the contrary, even the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption when minimum alcohol prices increase. It is hard otherwise to explain the significant changes in alcohol-related deaths observed in British Columbia.”

Zhao J, Stockwell T, Martin G, Macdonald S, Vallance K, Treno A, Ponicki W, Tu A, and Buxton J. (2013) The relationship between changes to minimum alcohol prices, outlet densities and alcohol attributable deaths in British Columbia in 2002-2009. Addiction, 108: doi:  10.1111/add.12139

* Wholly alcohol attributable deaths included the following: poisonings due to alcohol, alcoholic psychoses, alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, alcoholic gastritis, chronic pancreatitis (alcohol induced), fetal alcohol syndrome and excess alcohol blood level; acute alcohol attributable deaths comprised mainly injuries whether caused intentionally or unintentionally while chronic alcohol attributable deaths were those caused by alcohol-related illnesses such as liver cirrhosis and various cancers (e.g. cancers of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, colon and breast). These types of diagnosis were determined from the underlying cause of death identified on the death certificates.

Deadly Habits; Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol

200 Million People Worldwide Use Illegal Drugs, Study Says

An estimated 200 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, according to a new study. The health consequences of this use are wide-ranging, researchers report this week in The Lancet.

They include

  • overdose,
  • dependence,
  • violence or injury due to intoxication, as well as
  • heart disease,
  • mental disorders and
  • cirrhosis.

The Los Angeles Times reports that

  • 125 to 203 million people use marijuana,
  • 14 million to 56 million use amphetamines,
  • 12 million to 21 million use opioids, and
  • 14 million to 21 million use cocaine.

In addition, 11 million to 21 million inject drugs. An estimated 15 million to 39 million are considered problem drug users, the article notes.

Illegal drug use is highest in developed countries, the researchers found. They point out that many people who use illegal drugs take more than one drug.

The major adverse health effects of marijuana are dependence, and probably psychotic disorders and other mental disorders, the researchers conclude. They say that marijuana is unlikely to be deadly.

Drugs caused 2.1 million years of life lost in 2004, followed by alcohol, which caused a loss of 1.5 million years, according to the World Health Organization. Drug-related deaths tend to strike younger people, accounting for the higher number of years of life lost compared with other causes of death.

Overall,

  • illegal drugs led to 250,000 deaths in that year, compared with
  • 5.1 million deaths due to tobacco, and
  • 2.25 million due to alcohol.

From Join Together

Liver Disease and Coffee

Drinking Coffee Could Help Those With Liver Disease, Study Shows

Coffee gives more than a morning pick-me-up — about two cups daily could help sufferers of liver disease, according to a new joint study by Mason and Inova Health Systems.

“No one really knows how caffeine works on (fatty liver disease),” says Zobair Younossi, who led the study and is co-director of the George Mason University−Inova Health System Translational Research Institute. Perhaps there is a component in caffeine that reduces inflammation in the liver, he suggests. “Also, caffeine could have an antioxidant effect.”

Dubbed Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), this type of ailment is mainly caused by fat, and not by drinking alcohol. And it’s a growing problem.

“As the rate of obesity is going up in this country, especially among children, the problems of NAFLD will continue to rise,” says Younossi, who is chairman of the Department of Medicine at Inova Fairfax Hospital as well as vice president for research for Inova Health System. “This is becoming a major cause of liver disease.”

About 25 percent of the U.S. population has fatty liver disease, he says. From that number, about 2 to 3 percent could progress to cirrhosis, which is scarring on the liver that can lead to liver cancer.

Fatty liver disease frequently comes with type 2 diabetes, says Younossi, who has researched liver disease for 16 years. Obesity and poor diet are underlying factors.

The Coffee Effect

lisapawloski2Lisa Pawloski, chair of Mason’s Department of Nutrition Studies. Creative Services photo

Younossi, Inova’s Maria Stepanova and Mason’s Lisa Pawloski and Aybike Birerdinc looked at four continuous cycles of the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2001 to 2008. Approximately 19,000 respondents were asked about 62 different dietary habits, including their intake of water, sodium, fiber, cholesterol, calcium and alcohol.

The surveys from 2007-08 revealed that 32.2 percent of American men and 35.5 percent of women are obese. If those rates continue, then 45 to 50 percent of American adults will be obese by 2025, according to the study, meaning that more than 25 million Americans could develop fatty liver disease.

Out of all the survey data about diet, only caffeine appeared to have any protective value, Younossi says.

“I was actually surprised,” says Pawloski of the “coffee effect.”  “But there are other studies that support it. To me, it’s exciting that this study follows what others have done.”

Caffeine is showing some benefit for such diseases as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes, says Pawloski, who is chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in Mason’s College of Health and Human Services.

“It used to be people would say they’re cutting back on caffeine,” Pawloski continues. “There is a change in the attitudes about coffee and caffeine consumption. I think this study is another piece to show that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to include in your diet.”

How Much to Consume?

How much coffee is enough is debatable, Younossi says. Don’t start drinking coffee tomorrow if you don’t already do so. “In fact, if you drink too much, you could do some harm,” he says.

There is some evidence that high caffeine intake can adversely affect bone density, Pawloski adds. Those with iron deficiency should be careful with caffeine because tannins contained in tea as well as in wine inhibit iron absorption.

Also, don’t take caffeine pills — go for the real thing, Pawloski advises. Coffee and tea contribute fluids as well as antioxidants, she says. And milk added to the drink provides beneficial calcium.

“I would encourage coffee and tea drinking, but I would not make a definite recommendation to start doing it to prevent liver disease,” Pawloski says.

And watch how many calories you pack into your caffeine perk, Pawloski adds. “Some people, like me, like to load it up with cream and sugar.”

Patients with liver disease can reverse the trajectory of the disease through diet and weight loss, Younossi says. They need to keep accurate dietary records and watch what they eat and drink, he says. Even though fatty liver disease isn’t caused by drinking alcohol, libations don’t help because processing alcohol is tough on the liver.

“Even social drinking can be harmful,” Younossi adds.

There’s no current evidence that caffeine could reverse scarring on the liver, but Younossi suspects it could have a beneficial effect. More studies are on the way, he says.

Pawloski currently is working on a study with Inova and Mason’s Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science to track the number and proximity of fast-food outlets in neighborhoods with high levels of obesity and poverty.

“This study, combined with other studies, may impact advice to people with liver disease,” Pawloski says.

From a press release of the George Mason University−Inova Health System Translational Research Institute.

Alcohol and Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Cocktail – - TIME Healthland

 Alcohol and Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Cocktail – - TIME Healthland.

Mixing alcohol with other substances is never really a good idea, and pairing it with energy drinks may be especially hazardous.

That might seem obvious, but the results of a new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research provide some interesting insights into why. Cecile Marczinski, a psychologist at Northern Kentucky University, found that combining energy drinks such as Red Bull with vodka or other liquors effectively removes any built-in checks your body has for overindulging.

When you drink alcohol by itself, it initially induces a feeling of happiness — a comfortable buzz. But when you overindulge, your body knows it, and it starts to shut down; you start feeling tired, sleepy and more sedated than stimulated. “That’s your cue to go home to bed,” says Marczinski.

Alcohol-Related Deaths

ALCOHOL REPORTS: Indicator Report – Alcohol-Related Deaths.

Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to many different poor health outcomes. Chronic heavy drinking (defined as drinking more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women) contributes to a variety of alcohol-related chronic diseases, including liver cirrhosis and alcohol dependence.

Episodic heavy (or binge) drinking (defined as drinking five or more drinks on a single occasion for men and four or more drinks on a single occasion for women) contributes to a variety of alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, poisonings, falls, homicides, and suicides.

Full story at; Alcohol-Related Deaths.

Drinking and Risks to Men

Drinking Buddies

Image via Wikipedia

Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men’s Health

Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases.

Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death.

Drinking levels for men
  • Approximately 62% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and were more likely to binge drink than women (47%) during the same time period.
  • Men average about 12.5 binge drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
  • It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
Injuries and deaths as a result of excessive alcohol use
  • Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women.
  • Among drivers in fatal motor-vehicle traffic crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater).
  • Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.
  • Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.
Reproductive Health and Sexual Function

Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair.

  • Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Impaired judgment caused by alcohol may worsen the tendency of some men to mistake a women’s friendly behavior for sexual interest and misjudge their use of force.
  • Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
Cancer
  • Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men.

There are a number of health conditions affected by excessive alcohol use that affect both men and women.

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. These include but are not limited to—

  • Neurological problems, including dementia, stroke and neuropathy.
  • Cardiovascular problems (heart diseases), including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, anti-social attitudes and family problems.
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
  • Liver diseases, including—
    • Alcoholic hepatitis.
    • Cirrhosis, which is among the 15 leading causes of all deaths in the United States.
    • Among persons with Hepatitis C virus, worsening of liver function and interference with medications used to treat this condition.
  • Other gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis.

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See also

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Alcohol Raises Cancer Risk

Beverages 102 Exhaustive Review of the Literature Reveals Even Moderate Alcohol Intake Increases Risk of Cancer

The Cancer Institute of New South Wales, Australia, has released a comprehensive analysis of current evidence for the association between alcohol consumption and risk of cancer. Limited to systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the highest methodological quality, the 194-page monograph, entitled Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer, revealed that even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an often dramatic increase in the risk of several types of cancer.

Key findings are as follows:

Alcohol intake of approximately 2 drinks per day increases the risk of

  • cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx by 75 percent,
  • the risk of esophageal cancer by 50 percent, and
  • the risk of laryngeal cancer by 40 percent.

Moderate intake also significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer.

  • Intake of approximately 4 drinks per day increases the risk of any cancer by 22 percent, while
  • 8 drinks per day increases the risk by 90 percent.

The risk of breast cancer is 11 to 22 percent higher in women who drink alcohol than in women who do not.

Comments: The authors were unable to identify levels of consumption associated with no risk of cancer. Although the World Health Organization lists alcohol as a Group-1 carcinogen, as noted in the introduction to this study, few people are aware that even moderate consumption can cause cancer. These findings may be limited by possible underreporting of alcohol use or misclassification of exposure (e.g., light or ex-drinkers classified as non-drinkers).

Nonetheless, information about the association between alcohol and cancer needs to be more widely available so that the public can make informed choices about their behavior.

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH. Research Reference; Lewis S, Campbell S, Proudfoot E, et al. Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer. Sydney, Cancer Institute NSW, May 2008.

See also;

New Alcohol Guidelines Welcomed

Doctor with stethoscope around her neck uid 1272908

Nurses welcome new alcohol guidelines

The British Royal College of Nursing today (17th December 2009) welcomed the launch of new guidance for parents, children and young people on alcohol consumption, published by the Chief Medical Officer.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, said:

“Both in A&E departments and in classrooms nurses see the devastating effects alcohol is having on young people everyday – it is damaging not just their health but also their education, development and general wellbeing. It is vital that adults and children understand the serious short and long-term harm that alcohol can cause.

“We welcome the news that the Government is publishing guidance for parents and children on alcohol. However, we are calling on all political parties to repair the nation’s turbulent relationship with alcohol. We need stronger regulation of the labelling, sale and advertising of alcoholic drinks as well as widespread education campaigns. We simply cannot continue down a road where more and more children are being rushed to A&E as a result of binge drinking, and increasing numbers of people in their twenties are dying as a result of alcohol related illnesses.”

See; http://www.rcn.org.uk/

Which Sexual acts can Transmit HIV?

Scientific research shows that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is transmitted by contaminated body fluids such as blood, semen (including pre-ejaculatory fluid), vaginal fluids and breast milk. Unprotected sex is one of the leading modes of transmission.

Note: Cross posted from Recovery Is Sexy.com.

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Doctors want booze marketing ban

Half a pint of beer on bar table There should be a ban on all alcohol advertising, including sports and music sponsorship, doctors say.

The British Medical Association said the crackdown on marketing was needed along with an end to cut-price deals to stop the rising rates of consumption.

The industry spends £800m a year on promoting drinks – just a quarter of which goes on direct advertising.

Doctors said action was needed as alcohol was now one of the leading causes of early death and disability.

Only smoking and high blood pressure is responsible for a greater burden of disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Full story at BBC News

Drug And Alcohol Abuse: The Authoritative Guide For Parents, Teachers, And Counsellors by H. Thomas Milhorn
Another Chance: Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse