NIH-Funded Mouse Study Sheds Light on Neural Risks Associated With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

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Prenatal exposure to even low doses of alcohol may lead to severe and highly variable deficits in the brain of a fetus, according to a new study conducted in mice. Researchers report that the unpredictable nature of the deficits may be due to inconsistencies in how fetal brain cells activate a protective response to alcohol and other harmful compounds. The new findings may help explain the range of behavioral and learning deficits and other symptoms observed in individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and other congenital brain disorders. The study, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is now online in Nature Communications. FASD is an umbrella term for a range of effects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with FASD may experience growth retardation, facial abnormalities, and organ damage, including to the brain, which can result in...
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NIH to Launch Alcohol Clinical Trial Paid for by Manufacturers

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The New York Times recently ran a story announcing that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is starting a $100 million clinical trial to test whether a drink a day really does prevent heart attacks. And the trial will be paid for by Five companies that are among the world’s largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Carlsberg. These manufacturers have so far pledged almost $70 million to a foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health, according to Margaret Murray, the director of the Global Alcohol Research Program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which will oversee the study. Recent stories have noted that moderate drinking is supposedly good for the heart. However, this has concept has never rigorously tested. In fact, new research has linked even modest alcohol consumption to increases in breast cancer and changes in the...
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SPOTLIGHT: Grand Island, NE Affiliate’s Drug Education Programs

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The Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, with a mission of offering hope and changing lives by fostering healthy lifestyles, has a number of services aimed at providing alcohol and other drug education to the community. Among them are: Prime for Life (MIP) —This is an eight-hour alcohol education class for youth ages 20 and younger. The goal of this program is to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug-related problems in youth. It is a nationally recognized and evidence-based program that focuses on personal risk-reduction (choices) and self-assessment specifically related to alcohol. The program is voluntary but many youth are referred by probation or juvenile services for a Minor-In-Possession of Alcohol (first offense) or another first-time-alcohol or other drug- related offense. The class is offered in English and Spanish. Prime for Life! (DUI/DWI) —This also is an eight-hour alcohol education class but for adult DUI offenders ages...
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Just One Alcoholic Drink a Day Increases Breast Cancer Risk

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Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer. “It can be confusing with single studies when the findings get swept back and forth,” said Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a lead author of the report and cancer prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear: Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol – these are...
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Bullied Teens More Likely to Smoke, Drink and Use Drugs

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Children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to become depressed and experiment with drugs and alcohol during their teen years than their peers who weren’t victimized by other kids, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers followed almost 4,300 students starting in fifth grade, when they were around 11 years old. By tenth grade, 24 percent of the teens drank alcohol, 15 percent smoked marijuana and 12 percent used tobacco. More frequent episodes of physical and emotional bullying in fifth grade were associated with higher odds of depression by seventh grade, which was in turn linked to greater likelihood of substance use later in adolescence, the study found. "We drew on the self-medication hypothesis when trying to understand why peer victimization may lead to substance use over time," said lead study author Valerie Earnshaw, a human development and family studies researcher at the University of Delaware in Newark. "This...
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The Science Behind Blacking Out

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Have you ever woken up panicked and confused, wondering how you got home after a night out drinking with friends? If this has happened, you might have experienced an episode of alcohol induced amnesia, also known as a blackout. This is different than passing out or losing consciousness. Your friends may report drinking and talking with you during the evening and you may have even driven home – but your memory of some or most of the night is wiped away. Although blacking out is not uncommon – particularly among young people who drink heavily – it is poorly understood. Alcohol-induced impairment is dangerous and can be unpredictable. What is a Blackout? Researchers have identified two types of blackouts: En bloc, or complete blackout : when a person who had been drinking has an inability to recall entire events during the drinking period of time Fragmentary-memory loss : when a...
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Heavy versus light drinking: What are the relative effects on performance years later?

Heavy versus light drinking: What are the relative effects on performance years later?
Heavy drinkers develop tolerance to alcohol over time and may be able to perform certain tasks fine while intoxicated—but that doesn't apply to more complex tasks like driving, suggests a new study. Heavy drinkers develop behavioral tolerance to alcohol over time on some fine motor tasks, but not on more complex tasks, according to a study led by a VA San Diego Healthcare System researcher. While heavy drinkers showed less impairment than light drinkers on a rote fine motor test over time, they did not perform better on a test involving more short-term memory, motor speed, and more complex cognitive processing. The study offers new insight into the changes and problems that accompany excessive drinking. As the researchers explain, "The results have implications for our understanding of alcohol-induced impairments across neurobehavioral processes in heavy drinkers and their ongoing risks for alcohol-related consequences over time." Lead researcher Dr. Ty Brumback adds,...
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Bleak Job Outlook for Less-Educated Whites Leads to Death by Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide

Bleak Job Outlook for Less-Educated Whites Leads to Death by Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide
A new study concludes a lack of steady, well-paying jobs for whites who don’t have college degrees has led to an increase in deaths by drugs, alcohol and suicide. The mortality rate for whites ages 45 to 54 without a college degree increased by a half-percent each year from 1999 to 2013, NPR reports. Whites with college degrees have not seen the same loss of life expectancy, Princeton University researchers report in Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Researcher Ann Case told NPR , “The rates of suicide are much higher among men [than women]. And drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver death are higher among men, too. But the [mortality] trends are identical for men and women with a high school degree or less. So we think of this as people, either quickly with a gun or slowly with drugs and alcohol, are killing themselves. Under that body count there’s a...
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One in Ten Alcohol Buyers Purchase Alcohol Online

One in Ten Alcohol Buyers Purchase Alcohol Online
Whether we are toasting a friend's engagement, tossing one back at a party, or just relaxing at home with a drink at dinner or while watching TV, Americans rarely run out of excuses to partake in alcohol. With so many reasons to sip, chug, or shoot, it should come as no surprise that nearly 7 in 10 Americans aged 21 and over (68%) are "regular buyers" of alcohol (purchase any type of alcohol, either for themselves or for someone else, at least several times per year). Interestingly enough, nearly 1 in 10 adults 21+ (8%), or 12% of regular adult beverage buyers, say they purchased at least some of their alcohol online in the past 6 months. Among those regular buyers of alcohol who bought alcohol online at least once during the past six months, the percentage purchased online vs. in-store was highest for wine (42%), with beer (29%) and...
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NJ Alcohol Rehab Center Weighs in on the Risk of Binge Drinking for College Kids

NJ Alcohol Rehab Center Weighs in on the Risk of Binge Drinking for College Kids
Parties, alcohol, and freedom have long gone hand in hand with college - for as long as teenagers have been leaving mom and dad to begin their educations. It isn't any wonder that college students make up one of the highest ranking demographic groups for alcohol abuse. Estimates reflect that just over 60 percent of college students have used alcohol in the last 30 days, and that as many as two-thirds of those students have taken part in binge drinking in the same period. That is a change from college students' drinking habits from the past. While the use of alcohol has remained constant for the last few decades, instances of binge drinking have increased dramatically over that time frame, and that can carry some serious risks, reports NJ alcohol rehab center Summit Behavioral Health. Binge drinking is defined as imbibing 5 or more consecutive drinks for men, and 4...
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