Alcohol consumption and volatile relationships make for a dangerous combination. Domestic violence and extreme arguing are common manifestations of this duo. But, why do some couples get involved in this lifestyle, while other couples do not? This is the question that The National Institutes of Health is looking to answer. And they are willing to spend a lot of money in making sure that they understand the mechanics behind this issue. The organization is paying almost $600,000 to The State University of New York at Buffalo to develop and carry out the study.
And while the question is an interesting one, some people are not sure why it is being investigated so seriously. But, as the grant explains, this is a public health problem, the fallout of which costs the taxpayers a lot of money. “Understanding the relationship-specific motivations for alcohol use, as well as the risk and protective factors associated with relationship drinking processes as they occur in real-time in couples’ natural environments, is crucial to addressing problematic alcohol use in relationships,” explained researchers.
So, while the taxpayers are footing the bill for this expensive study, the amount spent on handling the problems from alcohol-fueled domestic problems is far greater. Taxpayers are charged with funding health services, legal fees and of course the salaries of the officers who have to respond to fights that escalate.
Researchers have been able to pinpoint some of the reasons people consume alcohol in relationships. Women are more likely to drink in order to fulfill their intimacy needs and men are more likely to drink in order to fill their social needs. This may be why some relationship arguments are fueled by alcohol, because both partners have different goals behind their alcohol consumption.
The hope is that by discovering why couples consume alcohol, experts and policy makers can figure out new ways to keep people safe from domestic violence and educate couples who are struggling with these issues before it escalates out of hand.
The medical community has been plagued with a few studies conducted years ago that stated that alcohol in moderation was good for the heart. Thousands of news outlets, blogs, and magazines reported on these studies and people have been referencing it ever since. And while a headline stating that alcohol is good for you is likely to get more readers, it is not exactly true. While alcohol, especially red wine, has some properties that could be considered healthy for the heart in low doses, these benefits do not even begin to outweigh the negative side effects of even moderate alcohol consumption.
A new study appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that in addition to a myriad of other health complications, alcohol consumption can lead to atrial fibrillation, heart attacks and congestive heart failure. In fact, alcohol use can influence these factors so greatly that even in people who have no other risk factors but alcohol consumption, they are more likely to develop these cardiac problems.
One of the major problems with previous studies was the way the researchers obtained their data.
“The great majority of previous research relied exclusively on self-reports of alcohol abuse. That can be an unreliable measure, especially in those who drink heavily. In our study, alcohol abuse was documented in patients’ medical records,” explained Dr. Gregory Marcus, lead researcher of the study. Focusing more on a clinical diagnosis, rather than what the subject was willing to admit to, has allowed for a more thorough research study.
It is important to note that alcohol does not directly cause heart attacks, atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure, but it does increase the chances that these problems will occur. According to researchers, alcohol influences the odds of these heart conditions in the same way as diabetes and obesity influences the odds.
Researchers are hopeful that this new study will replace popular opinion that alcohol in moderation is good for you. Now that current research is relying more on medical records, rather than self-reporting, it is likely that more studies will come to the same conclusion – alcohol consumption is not a healthy option when it comes to the heart. Now that we’re in the new year, maybe it’s time for even those who don’t have substance abuse issues to re-examine their drinking habits.
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21-years-old. This can seem to be a very odd number to some people, but there are reasons behind why drinking before the age of 21 is dangerous to one’s health. By the time a person is 18 they have likely stopped growing, they are considered an adult, they can vote, drive, move out or drop out of school if they want. But they cannot legally buy or consume alcohol. This is because their brains have not finished developing until they are in their twenties. Of course, adolescents and teenagers often find ways around the age barrier, researchers from Finland have released a study showing just how damaging alcohol is to developing brains.
“The maturation of the brain is still ongoing in adolescence, and especially the frontal areas and the cingulate cortex develop until the twenties. Our findings strongly indicate that heavy alcohol use may disrupt this maturation process,” explained Noora Heikinen, author of the study.
Certain areas of the brain are responsible for certain things. There is an area devoted to hormone regulation, an area that only deals with speech. And there is an area of the brain that is responsible for impulse control. This area is called the cingulate cortex. When adolescents or teenagers consume heavy amounts of alcohol before their brain stops developing, they are damaging this part of the brain.
A malfunctioning, or inhibited cingulate cortex may lead to increasing one’s chances of developing an alcohol dependency later on in life. This is explained by MRIs that were taken in the study.
Researchers took images of groups of people who were between the ages of 13 and 18. One group admitted to heavy consumption of alcohol, while the other group abstained from alcohol. Those that consumed a lot of alcohol had a smaller volume of cingulate cortex.
Researchers also found that alcohol also seems to reduce the volume of gray matter in the insula. This would account for a decreased sensitivity to the negative consequences of alcohol. Hangovers or personal problems due to alcohol use may not resonate heavily with these type of people, also increasing the likelihood of alcohol abuse in the future.
After examining 27 studies, researchers in Canada and Australia have published a paper warning that alcohol consumption increases a person’s risk for prostate cancer. And while the research is not there to say that alcohol causes prostate cancer, there is a definite link between consumption and odds that someone will develop cancer of the prostate. This information, which is now being shared with the public, highlights the need for more studies involving alcohol and its link to different cancers in both males and females.
The researchers poured over several different studies and were able to determine that the more a man drinks the more likely they are to develop prostate cancer. Even men who drink about 2 alcoholic drinks a day are 8 to 23% more likely to have this type of cancer.
So, what exactly is the connection between alcohol and prostate cancer? Researchers are unable to answer this question and many have said that more funding needs to be allocated for further research into alcohol’s effects on cancer cells. Some have hypothesized that alcohol changes the DNA in the cell over time. And while the exact source of these cancers is unknown, it is clear that alcohol greatly increases the risks for obtaining prostate cancer, which is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in males.
“This new study contributes to the strengthening evidence that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer. Alcohol’s contribution to prostate cancer will need to be factored into future estimates of the global burden of disease,” explained Tim Stockwell, co-author of the study.
Over the last few years, researchers have found more and more evidence that alcohol greatly increases cancer risk in drinkers. This new analysis adds prostate cancer to mouth, stomach, esophagus, and liver cancers that drinkers are more likely to develop. Women drinkers are also at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. The toll that these cancers take on the patient, families and taxpayers is something that need to be explored further as well.
Excessive alcohol consumption increases one’s chances of attempting or committing suicide. This is a statement that has been supported by studies going back to the seventies. It is likely that suicides and depression are influenced by alcohol intake because of the damage alcohol does to the brain. A person who is an alcoholic, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol daily, physically changes the shape and chemical makeup of their brain. This change can result to physical ailments, as well as emotional problems. While many studies have corroborated the link between alcohol and suicide, not many studies have examined the effects of alcohol restrictions on suicides.
Recently, a group of researchers set out to determine if areas with heavier alcohol tax, restrictions on the amount of alcohol in stores, or stricter driving under the influence laws had lower suicide rates. The answer was, yes – areas that make it more difficult to purchase alcohol, or get away with consuming excessive amounts, have less people committing suicide. The research did not specifically answer why this would be the case, but is likely that slight adjustments to make it more difficult to consume copious amounts of alcohol make it less likely that a person will get to the point of wanting to commit suicide.
“By making alcohol less available, it is possible to reduce the average risk of suicide, especially those where alcohol is involved. Departing from approaches that narrowly target members deemed at ‘high risk’ and that commonly address suicidal behaviors almost exclusively as problems of individuals, this population-based approach is likely to maximize public health benefit and to show long-lasting influence on reducing suicide,” explained the authors of the study.
Currently, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Cities throughout the country are constantly looking at how they can lower their suicide rate. Which is why this information is so critical. By curbing the access to alcohol, even slightly, thousands of lives can be saved. In fact, the data is even more compelling when you look outside of the United States. The same researchers looked at information gathered in other countries, and found similar results, highlighting the influence cities and town all over the world can have on suicide rates.
Researchers are looking into ways to minimize the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. Recently it was discovered that people who drink more than one drink a night are more likely to suffer from several different types of cancers including; esophageal, throat and mouth. In order to combat these deadly side effects of alcohol consumption some experts are considering the value in lowering the alcohol content in beer.
“The idea is that a small reduction in alcohol – such as beer with four percent ethanol content versus six percent – would reduce alcohol intake per drinker even if the same overall amount of beverage is consumed,” explained Jurgen Rehm, director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
In addition to minimizing the risk of developing deadly cancers, the lower alcohol content would also likely decrease the amount of injuries and risky behaviors that an inebriated person can encounter.
Some critics point out that drinkers would notice the lowered alcohol content and consume more to make up for the difference. However, the researchers do not think this would happen. They point out experiments that showed that drinkers actually do not notice the lowered alcohol content. The evidence suggests that alcohol content cannot be determined by taste. This is important because the lowering of alcohol content would appear to not have a negative effect on alcohol companies. In fact, beer companies report their highest sales are from light beer, which an alcohol level of around 4.2%.
If drinkers are either unaware or not noticing of the drop in alcohol content, sales are unlikely to be affected. So, the proposal has the potential to benefit drinkers by keeping them healthier and less likely to commit risky behaviors. It also will allow alcohol manufacturers to continue to maintain profits.
As more research is conducted into the risks of heavy alcohol consumption it is becoming clear that decreased alcohol content for drinkers is important.
Nitric oxide is a colorless gas produced by the body when we exhale. The gas is an important part of our body’s defense mechanism because it guards against many different kinds of bacteria, especially those that cause respiratory infections. And now a new study has been released that shows that alcohol may have an adverse effect on a person’s ability to produce nitric oxide.
The study was completed by researchers from Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago. The team gathered information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Examination Survey. From this data, they were able to spot the first links between alcohol consumption and lack of nitric oxide production.
The researchers divided the information into groups based on alcohol consumption levels: people who never drank, those who rarely drank, those who drank excessively and those who used to drink excessively. From these groups, the researchers noted that excessive drinkers had the least amount of measurable nitric oxide, and that their levels decreased as their alcohol consumption increased. The researchers were also able to come to the conclusion that alcohol disrupts the healthy balance of the lungs.
Dr. Majid Afshar, the lead author of the study, also pointed out that these finding may be particularly interesting to people who suffer from asthma. Those that suffer from chronic respiratory infections and those that are classified as excessive drinkers may also benefit from the results of the study. The results were published in the Chest Journal.
The list of adverse effects of heavy alcohol consumption continues to grow, and Chicago-based researchers agree that more studies have to be completed to get a full picture. However, until this study was completed, the connection between alcohol and lack of nitric oxide was unknown and may now be able to provide medical professionals with answers to more questions relating to alcohol consumption.
Breaking down misconceptions of alcohol use is an important factor in preventing future alcohol abuse problems. Underage drinking is societal problem that parents, law enforcement, healthcare providers and government officials have been battling for decades.
New research shows that teenage girls are now drinking earlier than teenage boys. This is the first time that the sexes have made this switch and it seems that adults are not far behind. Adult women are closing the gap with adult males in drinking frequency and amount.
According to researchers, underage drinking for females can be traced to a few different factors. Some experts are pointing their fingers at alcohol advertisers. There is an increase in fruity, sweet-tasting drinks available to consumers and teenage girls tend to gravitate towards these types of beverages. Additionally, drinking has become more accepted in society. In the past, males have consumed more and earlier in life, while girls stayed away from alcohol until they were older. Because of this, many programs and initiatives to curb underage drinking are geared towards boys instead of girls.
Testing and research measures that gauge drinking trends have also changed. Researchers have gotten more sophisticated with their testing questions and study groups. This has allowed the medical community to spot this change among teenagers.
“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, al narrowed for females and males,” explained Aaron White, the study author and senior scientific advisor to the director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Since teenage drinking is more likely to lead to an adult drinking problem, it is imperative that stronger and more effective programs are developed to curb underage alcohol abuse. Additionally, equal attention should be given to educating both males and females, as indicated in the study that appeared in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
A group of researchers in Sweden examined the social life of 357 girls over four years. The purpose of the study was to determine what sort of factors influence young girls to try alcohol and drugs. After compiling the data, the research indicated that girls who grow up in families with little supervision are much more likely to consume alcohol.
The study is important because experts agree that children who start experimenting with alcohol at a young age are more likely to develop an addiction as they get older. Parents who are unsure how much control they should exert over their teenage daughters may take some cues from the results of this study, and feel more comfortable enforcing slightly more rules and guidelines for supervision.
In order to conduct the study, researchers followed girls from the age of 13 to 17. For the four years during the study they were asked questions about their curfew and the frequency that they consumed alcohol. The outcome of the study showed that no matter how much parental intervention, teenage girls are likely to experiment with alcohol. However, girls whose parents are more strict tended to drink less than girls whose parents are more lax with their rules. Young girls who fell within the category of strict parent had an 84% increase in alcohol abuse. This is in sharp contrast to the girls who fell into the category of less strict parents. This group had a 234% increase in alcohol abuse.
“…girls alienated from same-age peers seek the company of older, more mature youth during a developmental period when alcohol consumption becomes increasingly normative,” explained the authors of the study. This is important because it shows that parents who go too far with being strict with their girls are more likely to push them into experimenting with alcohol and drugs. There does seem to be a fine line of strict and too strict, according to the study. Researchers pointed out that girls in both groups the girls drank alcohol, however it moved to abuse more often in the group whose parents had less control over the girls.
Each year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) releases the results of the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in September during National Recovery Month. Among the annual tracking of substance abuse and related behavioral health information, the ongoing survey finds patterns in usage statistics that help give not just a snapshot of consumption, but also help predict trends in drug and alcohol abuse.
The latest survey found some mixed results. Predictably, there was a rise in marijuana usage, given the legalization for adults in several states. However, one positive note was that alcohol consumption among adolescents decreased over the previous year. More specifically, past-month drinking among teens aged 12 t0 17 fell from 17.6 percent in 2002 to 11.5 percent by 2014.
Overall underage drinking is down over the past decade, but there was little change from the previous year when looking at binge drinking and heavy drinking rates. Some believe that the total usage statistics remain generally equal year after year, but the trends in the substances change. While plausible, this doesn’t negate the fact that less young people abusing alcohol equals an improvement in our society.