Category Archives: Media

Alcohol has Different Effects for Women vs. Men, Young vs. Old, Article Says

An article at the Star.com website of the Toronto (Canada) Star newspaper discusses what researchers have discovered about differences in the effects of alcohol on females — especially adolescent females — from their male counterparts.  In both genders, one researcher says, “Quantity and frequency can be a killer for novice drinkers. Adding alcohol to the mix of the developing brain will likely complicate the normal developmental trajectory. Long after a young person recovers from a hangover, risk to cognitive and brain functions endures.”

The article also discusses ongoing studies about differences between the brains of addicts of all kinds and non-addicts. The brain’s reward system, in which certain parts of the brain react to the presence of dopamine by imparting feelings of pleasure, is weaker in addicts. Some of that is an effect of drinking or using: too much stimulation of the system by addictive drinking/using causes a scaling back in the number of receptors, which in turn leads to the “need” for addicts to use more and more of the drug of choice as time passes. It’s possible, though not yet proven, that some individuals are born with a relatively weak brain reward system, predisposing them to being vulnerable to addiction.

Read more by clicking  HERE

Drug Shows Promise for Help in Preventing Relapse

A new study — on mice, not people — shows promising results with the use of a drug called Mifepristone to reduce relapse stemming from high stress levels. The drug was initially commercialized by the name RU-486, a drug that is widely used for inducing terminations of pregnancy. “It seems to impede the activity of progesterone and cortisol in the brain that play a major role in supporting alcoholism and relapse.” The article about the study goes on to say:

“’It’s well-known that stress can lead to relapse in people who are trying not to drink. Until now, we have had very few interventions that showed potential as possible treatments,’ commented senior author Selena E. Bartlett, PhD, director of medications development at the Gallo Center.” The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California San Francisco and the Earnest Gallo Clinic.

Read the full article HERE

Nicotine really is a “Gateway Drug” Says New Study

The idea of “gateway drugs” has been a subject of controversy and ridicule for decades. It’s an argument aimed often at people who use marijuana and are told that pot leads to the use of “harder” drugs. It has also been a handy weapon to aim at teenagers who smoke tobacco. A new study suggests that researchers have found the first chemical evidence that there may be something to the theory.  An epidemiologist and a neurobiologist at Columbia University led a team that found “epigenetic” changes in mice plied with nicotine. Those mice were far more likely to exhibit addictive behavior when given cocaine than were those not exposed to nicotine.

As is often the case with these sorts of study, the article does not make clear how much nicotine the mice were exposed to — were they massive doses or proportionate to a human smoker? Still, the article — from Nature.com — makes for interesting reading.

New Study: “Moderate” Drinking Causes Cancer

An article in the Wall Street Journal provides a good response to those who insist that “moderate” alcohol consumption is good for you. See the article here . While the article acknowledge some health benefits, a new study points out that there are also negative effects, including an increased chance of cancer of the breast, liver, colon, pancreas, mouth, larynx and esophagus. Even lung cancer risks are increased whether you smoke or not. Among the findings: the risk of breast cancer starts to rise with as few as 3 drinks a week.

“The situation is somewhat similar to tobacco a few decades ago,” with drinking deeply rooted in social habits and promoted in advertising and movies, says Paolo Boffetta, director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

The whole article is worth a read.

Alcohol Marketers Target Youth

Here’s part of a piece from an HIV/AIDS blog with information that we’re all probably vaguely aware of, but which bears repeating:

While the popularity of various illegal substances rises and falls, alcohol consistently remains the granddaddy of recreational drugs. New forms of alcoholic drinks began appearing in the 1980s, first with wine coolers and then flavored alcoholic beverages (that’s FAB, for short) and energy drinks. They have gained popularity, especially among youth. Now, just months after the FDA urged the removal of caffeine from alcoholic drinks such as Four Loko, beverage companies are once again shape-shifting their fruity-tasting concoctions and they’re literally bigger than ever: they’ve been supersized. The new packaging, still largely targeting young (and often underage) drinkers, features a 23.5 ounce can with a 12% alcohol content. That’s equivalent to four or five beers (a fact that marketers of the product recently agreed to change Four Loko’s label to reflect). They’re cheap, accessible, and highly potent.

Why is this a concern? The numbers tell the story. 10.7 million underage youth drink alcohol, and about 70% of those youth binge drink, resulting in harmful physical consequences, poor judgment, lower inhibitions, and an abundance of high-risk sexual behaviors. And the concerns extend beyond youth. Excessive consumption of alcohol is a significant health concern for everyone,