Tag Archives: alcohol

Light drinking may protect brain function

For the record, I have never had a drinking problem. At my worst, I would down a couple of beers at a meal and maybe an after dinner something. So, I don’t want to be giving an excuse to someone who is on the cusp of a drinking problem with this study.

Light to moderate drinking may preserve brain function in older age, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

The study examined the link between alcohol consumption and changes in cognitive function over time among middle-aged and older adults in the U.S.

“We know there are some older people who believe that drinking a little wine everyday could maintain a good cognitive condition,” said lead author Ruiyuan Zhang, a doctoral student at UGA’s College of Public Health.

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Heavy drinking may lead to stroke, peripheral artery disease

One of the most amazing statistics I have heard as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is that sales of high end liquors are up 500% in the past three months. Folks, please! Use a little self awareness.

Drinking high amounts of alcohol may be linked to increased risk of stroke or peripheral artery disease – the narrowing of arteries in the legs, according to new genetic research.

assorted wine bottles

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The study, published Tuesday in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine, used a technique called Mendelian randomization that identifies genetic variants. While observational studies have shown similar results, this new work provides insights through a different lens.

“Since genetic variants are determined at conception and cannot be affected by subsequent environmental factors, this technique allows us to better determine whether a risk factor – in this case, heavy alcohol consumption – is the cause of a disease, or if it is simply associated,” the study’s lead author, Susanna Larsson, said in a news release. Larsson is senior researcher and associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind on alcohol consumption and several cardiovascular diseases.”

Genetic data from more than 500,000 United Kingdom residents showed higher alcohol intake contributed to a threefold increase of peripheral artery disease, a 27% increase in stroke risk, and a potential link to coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and aortic aneurysm.

“Higher alcohol consumption is a known cause of death and disability, yet it was previously unclear if alcohol consumption is also a cause of cardiovascular disease,” Larsson said. “Considering that many people consume alcohol regularly, it is important to disentangle any risks or benefits.”

Researchers suggest the heightened risk of stroke and PAD could be caused by higher blood pressure.

The American Heart Association’s statement on dietary health suggests alcohol intake can be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation – that is, no more than one drink a day for non-pregnant women and two drinks a day for men. The statement notes potential risks of alcohol on existing health conditions, medication-alcohol interaction or personal safety and work situations.

The prevalence of heavy drinking among participants was low, which researchers say is a limitation of the study.

Tony

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Filed under alcohol, binge drinking, drinking alcohol, peripheral artery disease, stroke

Key brain region for controlling binge drinking found

A team of National Institutes of Health-funded researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina has found that deactivating a stress-signaling system in a brain area known for motivation and emotion-related behaviors decreases binge drinking. The study, which was published online in February and is to appear in the May issue of Neuropharmacology, pinpoints a particular system in a specific brain region that can be manipulated to reduce harmful binge drinking.

alcohol bar black background close up

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The MUSC team was led by Howard C. Becker, Ph.D., director of the Charleston Alcohol Research Center and professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

“Binge drinking is one of the most common patterns in which alcohol is consumed,” explained Becker. “It’s a risky behavior, and one consequence of repeated binge drinking is increasing risk for developing an alcohol use disorder.”

Further, according to Becker, those who consistently binge drink, particularly during adolescent and college years, have almost 10 times the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

But how much alcohol must be consumed to qualify a drinking session as a binge?

Continue reading

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‘Safest level of drinking is none’ – study

A comprehensive worldwide study of alcohol use and its impact on health concludes that the safest level of consumption is zero. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 has calculated levels of alcohol use and its effects on health during 1990–2016 in 195 countries.

The research, which now features in the journal The Lancet, notes that in 2016, alcohol use was responsible for almost 3 million deaths globally.

two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer

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Alcohol use was the main cause of death for people aged 15–49 that year, accounting for 12 percent of deaths in men of that age.

“Our findings,” says senior study author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, who currently works at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, “are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems.” Continue reading

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Teenage Binge Drinking Can Affect Brain Functions in Future Offspring

I seriously doubt that I have many teenagers checking out my posts. However, I am sure that there are moms, dads and other loved ones who do. As if there weren’t enough reasons for kids to lighten up on booze, this study adds a biggie.

Repeated binge drinking during adolescence can affect brain functions in future generations, potentially putting offspring at risk for such conditions as depression, anxiety, and metabolic disorders, a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study has found.

brain

“Adolescent binge drinking not only is dangerous to the brain development of teenagers, but also may impact the brains of their children,” said senior author Toni R. Pak, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The study by Dr. Pak, first author AnnaDorothea Asimes, a PhD student in Dr. Pak’s lab, and colleagues was presented at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Continue reading

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Drugs and Alcohol – Your Body – Infographic

I ran across this fascinating infographic this morning and thought you might be interested.

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Tony

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Is Sugar As Dangerous as Alcohol?

Many people are saying yes and calls have started to regulate sugar in food and beverages.

The report ran in the research journal Nature and points to sugar as a greater health burden than infectious disease as it is behind heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

We have an epidemic of obesity with 30 percent of us suffering from it and another 30 percent of us overweight and possibly on the way to obesity. In addition, we have teenagers coming down with adult onset diabetes.

But, we don’t need the government stepping in and making laws about sugar consumption. What we eat is a private matter and we need to be more sensible about it and get those onerous obesity statistics going the other direction.

The way to regulate our sugar intake is for us to be smarter about what we eat. It’s on you and me to decide for ourselves. The last thing we need is the government sticking its heavy hand into our kitchen cupboards.

Tony

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3 Simple Ways to Get More Restful Sleep – Harvard

Regular readers know that I feel strongly about the nature and benefits of a good night’s sleep. Check out my Page – How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep? for more details.

Meanwhile, Harvard Health Publications, has some very useful information to add to the conversation.

“Even people without insomnia can have trouble getting a good night’s rest. Many things can interfere with restorative sleep – crazy work schedules, anxiety, trouble putting down the smartphone, even what you eat and drink.

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When you wake up in the morning, are you refreshed and ready to go, or groggy and grumpy? For many people, the second scenario is all too common. This report describes the latest in sleep research, including information about the numerous health conditions and medications that can interfere with normal sleep, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat sleep disorders. Most importantly, you’ll learn what you can do to get the sleep you need for optimal health, safety, and well-being.

The following three simple steps can help you sleep better.

Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine drinkers may find it harder to fall asleep than people who don’t drink caffeine. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. That may be because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate during the night.

People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can endure for many hours. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, irritability, and extreme fatigue, it may be easier to cut back gradually rather than go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive. Continue reading

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Beer Drinking vs. Alcohol Drinking – Infographic

Drinks like beer, malt liquor, wine, and hard liquor contain alcohol. Alcohol is the ingredient that gets you drunk, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Hard liquor—such as whiskey, rum, or gin—has more alcohol in it than beer, malt liquor, or wine.

These drink sizes have about the same amount of alcohol in them:

1 ½ ounces of hard liquor
5 ounces of wine
8 ounces of malt liquor
12 ounces of beer

Alcohol-01

A little goes a long way.

Tony

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Leading Health Indicators Show Improvement – HHS

Must confess that I have heard of the leading economic indicators, but never the leading health ones. The Dept of HHS is a good source, however. This seems a pleasant surprise in terms of results.

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Leading Health Indicators: Progress Update, which shows that we are making progress in more than half of the 26 Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators (LHIs).

progress-map
There are 14 health indicators that have either been met or are improving in this first third of the decade, including:
• Fewer adults smoking cigarettes
• Fewer children exposed to secondhand smoke
• More adults meeting physical activity targets
• Fewer adolescents using alcohol or drugs
(My emphasis: I consider smoking to be a horrible killer and crippler of humans. The fact that fewer adults are doing it and fewer children are exposed to second hand smoke is wonderful positive news. You can read my Page –  How Bad is Smoking? for more info.)

As of March 2014, progress generally has been positive toward achieving the HP2020 targets for the 26 LHIs, with 14 indicators (53.9%) having either met their target or shown improvement:

• 4 indicators (15.4%) have met or exceeded their HP2020 targets.
• 10 indicators (38.5%) are improving.
• 8 indicators (30.8%) show little or no detectable change.
• 3 indicators (11.5%) are getting worse.
• 1 indicator (3.8%) has only baseline data.

The LHIs are a subset of Healthy People 2020 objectives, which communicate high-priority health issues known to have a major influence in reducing preventable disease and death. These indicators are used to assess the health of the Nation, facilitate collaboration across sectors, and motivate action at the national, State, and community levels to improve the health of the U.S. population.

While progress has been made across several indicators, the LHI Progress Update highlights areas where further work is needed to improve the health of all Americans.

You can see the progress made within each of the 26 leading health indicators.

Tony

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Filed under alcohol, Exercise, Leading Health Indicators, smoking, Weight

Does Lunch Meat Cause Cancer?

It doesn’t help. WebMD says, “People who eat a lot of processed meats, such as hot dogs and lunch meat, are more likely to get colon cancer. The link isn’t completely clear, but it might be because of nitrites. Those are chemicals added to food to stop bacteria and preserve color.

“Red meat also is linked to colon cancer. In general, limit the amount of red meat you eat. Instead choose other sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, or beans.”

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You can take a very useful WebMD quiz at the link above that will fill you in on a number of cancers and cancer myths. Continue reading

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Women More Vulnerable Than Men to Holiday Drinking

I started writing blog posts about healthy eating for the holidays on October 28. This will be the second one that dealt with the drinking side of the equation. Of course, the principles involved here apply year ’round, not just to the holidays, but since we are in the holiday season, it seemed an appropriate subject.

The holiday spirit includes the imbibing of alcoholic spirits. As it turns out, women with their smaller frames tend to be more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol than men. But, smaller frames doesn’t tell the whole story.

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According to the site Alcohol problems and solutions “Women are affected by alcohol more rapidly because they tend to have a higher proportion of body fat than men. As fat cannot absorb alcohol, it is concentrated at higher levels in the blood. Women also have less of a gastric or stomach enzyme (dehydrogenase) that metabolizes or breaks down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. Because of this, women absorb up to nearly 30 per cent more alcohol into their bloodstream than men of the same height and weight who drink the same amount of alcohol. Women are also usually shorter and lighter than men, further concentrating alcohol in their blood. Therefore, when women of average size consume one drink, it will have almost the same effect as two drinks do for the average size man. If women eat little or skip food entirely, that compounds the effects of drinking alcohol.”

WebMD has an interesting quiz on alcohol consumption that explains, “Women are more vulnerable to alcohol for a variety of reasons. First, women tend to weigh less than men, so a drink delivers proportionately more alcohol. But even in the case of men and women who weigh the same, alcohol hits women harder because they metabolize it differently. Alcohol is diluted by the body’s water content, and women tend to have a lower water content. This means that alcohol is not as diluted in their bodies, and their organs are exposed to more alcohol.

Women are at higher risk for negative health consequences of drinking, including liver, brain, and heart damage.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control,The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. The Dietary Guidelines also state that it is not recommended that anyone begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.”

Limiting your alcohol consumption is good for your health and you will likely enjoy the holidays more if you do.

Tony

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Filed under after dinner drinks, alcohol, healthy living, water, Weight

Harvard on Healthy Alcohol Use

With New Year’s Eve looming and the prospect of drinking alcohol as an integral part of our celebration, the Harvard School of Public Health has some suggestions on the healthy use of alcohol.

“While moderate drinking can increase the risk of colon and breast cancer, these risks are trumped by the boost in cardiovascular health—especially in middle age, when heart disease begins to account for an increasingly large share of disease and deaths.”

A visual guide to moderate drinking

A visual guide to moderate drinking

Moderate drinking amounts to one drink a day for women, for men whose bodies on average are larger, it’s up to two drinks a day. As the illustration shows: one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1-1/2 ounces of hard liquor.

Harvard offered 5 Quick Tips on Staying Healthy with Alcohol

1. If you don’t drink, there’s no need to start. For some people—especially pregnant women, people recovering from alcohol addiction, people with a family history of alcoholism, people with liver disease, and people taking one or more medications that interact with alcohol—the risks of drinking outweigh the benefits.

There are other ways to boost your heart health and lower your risk of diabetes, such as getting more active, staying at a healthy weight, or eating healthy fats and whole grains.

2. If you do drink, drink in moderation—and choose whatever drink you like. Wine, beer, or spirits—each seems to have the same health benefits as long as moderation’s the word (no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men).

3. Take a multivitamin with folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin that may help lower the risk of heart disease and cancers of the colon and breast. Those who drink may benefit the most from getting extra folate, since alcohol moderately depletes our body’s stores. The amount in a standard multivitamin—400 micrograms—is enough, when combined with a healthy diet.

4. Ask your doctor about your drinking habits.  If you (or your friends) think you may have a problem with drinking, talk to a doctor or other health professional about it. He or she can help.

5. Pick a designated driver. Alcohol and driving do not mix. If you’ve been out drinking cocktails and it’s time to head home, hand your car keys to someone who’s been sipping seltzer all night.

Harvard offered a full article on alcohol here.

Tony

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Filed under brain, colon cancer, drinking alcohol, heart, heart problems, Weight

Is Sugar As Dangerous as Alcohol?

Is sugar as dangerous when over-consumed as alcohol is? Many people are saying yes and calls have started to regulate sugar in food and beverages.

The report ran in the research journal Nature and points to sugar as a greater health burden than infectious disease as it is behind heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

We have an epidemic of obesity with 30 percent of us suffering from it and another 30 percent of us overweight and possibly on the way to obesity. In addition, we have teenagers coming down with adult onset diabetes.

But, we don’t need the government stepping in and making laws about sugar consumption. What we eat is a private matter and we  need to be more sensible about it and get those onerous obesity statistics going the other direction.

The way to regulate our sugar intake is for us to be smarter about what we eat. It’s on you and me to decide for ourselves. The last thing we need is the government sticking its heavy hand into our kitchen cupboards.

Tony

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Filed under body fat, fast food, life challenges, obesity

How to Beat the Heat

I personally prefer extreme cold to extreme heat, because you can always add layers and go out, but with heat, no matter how much you take off, you are still uncomfortable once you are outside.

I cruised the web and wanted to share some of the suggestions of others in the same situation.

Our friends overseas at the Daily Mail offered some very down to earth ones, including: “Eat small meals and eat more often. The larger the meal, the more metabolic heat your body creates breaking down the food. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.”

A similar concept came up in my blog item The Brain is an Oxygen Burner explaining why we often feel sluggish after eating a big meal because digestion requires a lot of oxygen that would be going to the brain, but is diverted to the gut.
Continue reading

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