To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Effect of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase-2 Genotype on Cardiac Autonomic Nervous Responses to Moderate Alcohol Ingestion
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 06 June 2008

Asian people are divided into the individuals who can ingest alcohol and cannot because of the difference of aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2) genotype. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of ALDH2 genotype on cardiac autonomic nervous responses to moderate alcohol ingestion.

Subjects were 17 healthy male students at Kyoto University. According to the difference of ALDH2 genotype, they were divided into two groups: the STRONG (n = 10) and WEAK (n = 7) group. The subjects ingested 10 (the LITTLE trial) or 30 g (the MUCH trial) of pure alcohol on a separate day randomly. We collected ECG data and analyzed QT interval.

ECG QT interval, the important marker for sudden cardiac death in cardiac patients as well as healthy people, of the STRONG group were not prolonged after alcohol ingestion, but that of the WEAK group were significantly prolonged, compared to control. Moreover, with respect to the comparison of the change of QT interval between the LITTLE and MUCH trials, there were also no significant differences in the STRONG group. In the WEAK group, however, the change was more marked at MUCH trial.

It is concluded that the cardiovascular response to alcohol ingestion is influenced by ALDH2 genotype and that the drinking assumed to be in moderation puts a strain on the hearts for the ALDH2-deficient individuals. The results of this investigation show that moderate drinking does not have a good effect on everybody with respect to QT interval. This study also shows that moderate alcohol intake does not have a bad effect on the immune system regardless of ALDH2 genotype.

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Alcohol Outlets, Youth Drinking, and Self-Reported Ease of Access to Alcohol: A Constraints and Opportunities Approach
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 06 June 2008

Despite recent research examining youth access to alcohol, the extent to which relative ease of access to alcohol from various sources translates into the use of these sources is not known.

Patterns of adolescent alcohol access in California were studied using a hierarchical analysis of self-reported and archival measures. A survey of 30 youths age 14 to 16 in each of 50 zip codes selected to maximize variability in median household income and off-premise outlet densities was conducted.

(1) Both actual use of and perceived ease of access to formal sources were positively associated with off-premise outlet density (a measure of formal access). (2) Actual use of informal sources was negatively associated with outlet densities. (3) Perceived and realized informal access were associated positively with deviance and negatively with conventionality. (4) Deviance was associated with increased perceived and realized access from both formal and social sources, whereas conventionality was only associated with realized and perceived informal access.

Correlates of perceived and actual alcohol access differ somewhat, and the differences between informal and formal access (both perceived and actual) are many, creating a complex picture of the patterns of underage access to alcohol. Youth drinking is affected by opportunities and constraints. Specifically, as one form of access becomes constrained, youth appear to circumvent restrictions by relying on other modes of access. Thus interventions targeting formal alcohol access by youth may result in a shift to reliance on social sources. This complex problem requires a multi-faceted intervention approach.

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A Randomized Double-Blind Pilot Trial of Gabapentin Versus Placebo to Treat Alcohol Dependence and Comorbid Insomnia
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 06 June 2008

Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are common, persistent, and associated with relapse in alcohol-dependent patients. The purpose of this pilot study was to compare gabapentin versus placebo for the treatment of insomnia and prevention of relapse in alcohol-dependent patients.

Gabapentin significantly delayed the onset to heavy drinking, an effect which persisted for 6 weeks after treatment ended. Insomnia improved in both treatment groups during the medication phase, but gabapentin had no differential effects on sleep as measured by either subjective report or polysomnography.

Because gabapentin is a short-acting medication that was taken only at nighttime in this study, it may possibly exert a nocturnal effect that prevents relapse to heavy drinking by a physiological mechanism not measured in this pilot study.

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Factors Associated With Alcohol Use, Depression, and Their Co-occurrence During Pregnancy
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 06 June 2008

Alcohol use and depression each adversely affect birth outcomes, but the impact of their co-occurrence among pregnant women is not well understood. In this study, we examined factors associated with alcohol use, depression, and their co-occurrence during pregnancy.

We analyzed datasets from 2 longitudinal studies conducted nearly 20 years apart in the same outpatient prenatal clinic of an urban women’s hospital. Participants included 278 women recruited from 1982 to 1985 for the Maternal Health Practices and Child Development (MHPCD) Study and 209 women recruited from 2000 to 2002 for the Health Outcomes from Prenatal Education (HOPE) Study. Both studies selected women on the basis of their level of alcohol use early in pregnancy. We used multinomial logistic regression models to test multiclassification prediction of alcohol use, depression, and their co-occurrence during pregnancy.

In the second and third trimesters, more MHPCD participants than HOPE participants consumed alcohol (67% vs. 20%), experienced depression (85% vs. 34%), and had co-occurring drinking and depression (56% vs. 10%) (p <>p <>

Smoking, older age, lower education, and illicit substance use predicted alcohol and/or probable depression in the second and third trimesters among women who drank in the first trimester.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Neural stem cell transplantation in a model of fetal alcohol effects
Journal of Neural Transmission. Supplementa Volume 72 pp. 331-337

Neural stem cell (NSC) transplantation has been investigated and developed in areas such as brain injury, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, emerging evidence suggest that many of clinical symptoms observed in psychiatric disease are likely related to neural network disruptions including neurogenesis dysfunction.

In the present study, we transplanted NSCs into a model of fetal alcohol effects (FAE) for the purpose of investigating the possibility of regenerative therapy for FAE. We labeled NSCs with fluorescent dye and radioisotope which were transplanted into FAE rats by intravenous injection. The transplanted cells were detected in wide areas of brain and were greater in number in the brains of the FAE group compared to the control group. Furthermore NSC transplantation attenuated behavioral abnormalities in FAE animals.

These results suggest NSC transplantation as a potential new therapy for human FAE.

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Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Service Utilization for Individuals With Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in the General Population: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions
J Clin Psychiatry May 27, 2008: e1-e10

This study sought to determine whether black/white disparities in service utilization for mental health and substance use disorders persist or are diminished among individuals with psychiatric comorbidity in the general population.

The 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions was used to identify individuals with lifetime co-occurring substance use disorders and mood/anxiety disorders (N = 4250; whites, N = 3597; blacks, N = 653). Lifetime service utilization for problems with mood, anxiety, alcohol, and drugs was assessed.

Compared to whites, blacks with co-occurring mood or anxiety and substance use disorders were significantly less likely to receive services for mood or anxiety disorders, equally likely to receive services for alcohol use disorders, and more likely to receive some types of services for drug use disorders. Regardless of race/ethnicity, individuals with these co-occurring disorders were almost twice as likely to use services for mood/anxiety disorders than for substance use disorders.

Despite the fact that comorbidity generally increases the likelihood of service use, black/white disparities in service utilization among an all-comorbid sample were found, although these disparities differed by type of disorder. Further research is warranted to understand the factors underlying these differences. Prevention and intervention strategies are needed to address the specific mental health needs of blacks with co-occurring disorders, as well as the overall lack of service use for substance use disorders among individuals with co-occurring psychiatric conditions.

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At-risk drinkers are at higher risk to acquire a bacterial infection during an intensive care unit stay than abstinent or moderate drinkers
Critical Care Medicine. 36(6):1735-1741, June 2008.

To determine whether excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk for intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired bacterial infection, especially ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), in nontrauma patients.

Thirty-one percent of the patients (111 of 358) were identified as at-risk drinkers according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism criteria. Among these, 61 had a daily intake of five or more drinks per day and 73 had Simplified Michigan Alcohol Short Test scores >=3. ICU-acquired bacterial infections were diagnosed in 88 patients, and 69 patients had one or more VAPs.

Forty (36%) at-risk drinkers acquired bacterial infections vs. 48 (19%) not-at-risk drinkers (p < .001). Among at-risk drinkers, the proportion of patients who developed bacterial infection was higher in at-risk drinkers consuming five or more drinks per day compared with at-risk drinkers consuming fewer than five drinks per day (p = .048).

After adjustment for age, gender, Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, length of hospital stay before ICU admission, prior antibiotic administration within 24 hrs before ICU admission, type of admission, immunosuppression, duration of mechanical ventilation, and central venous and urinary catheter exposure, at-risk drinking remained significantly associated with the acquisition of bacterial infection at any site (hazard ratio 1.92; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-3.14; p = .009) and of VAP (hazard ratio 1.76; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-3.06; p = .04).

At-risk drinking was a significant risk factor for acquisition of ICU-acquired bacterial infection.

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Toward a Philosophy of Choice: A New Era of Addiction Treatment

Written by William L. White, MA
Friday, 06 June 2008

Being given choices of institutions, levels of care, treatment goals/methods, service personnel, and service duration has historically not been part of the personal experience of addiction treatment in the United States. This article describes why addiction treatment professionals have been reticent to offer choices to their alcohol and drug dependent clients and why that philosophy is now undergoing reevaluation.
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Molecular analyses and identification of promising candidate genes for loci on mouse chromosome 1 affecting alcohol physical dependence and associated withdrawal
Genes, Brain and Behavior OnlineEarly Articles 05 June 2008

We recently mapped quantitative trait loci (QTLs) with large effects on predisposition to physical dependence and associated withdrawal severity following chronic and acute alcohol exposure (Alcdp1/Alcw1) to a 1.1-Mb interval of mouse chromosome 1 syntenic with human chromosome 1q23.2-23.3.

Here, we provide a detailed analysis of the genes within this interval and show that it contains 40 coding genes, 17 of which show validated genotype-dependent transcript expression and/or non-synonymous coding sequence variation that may underlie the influence of Alcdp1/Alcw1 on ethanol dependence and associated withdrawal. These high priority candidates are involved in diverse cellular functions including intracellular trafficking, oxidative homeostasis, mitochondrial respiration, and extracellular matrix dynamics, and indicate both established and novel aspects of the neurobiological response to ethanol.

This work represents a substantial advancement toward identification of the gene(s) that underlies the phenotypic effects of Alcdp1/Alcw1. Additionally, a multitude of QTLs for a variety of complex traits, including diverse behavioral responses to ethanol, have been mapped in the vicinity of Alcdp1/Alcw1, and as many as four QTLs on human chromosome 1q have been implicated in human mapping studies for alcoholism and associated endophenotypes.

Thus, our results will be primary to further efforts to identify genes involved in a wide variety of behavioral responses to alcohol and may directly facilitate progress in human alcoholism genetics.

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Genetic dissection of quantitative trait locus for ethanol sensitivity in long- and short-sleep mice
Genes, Brain and Behavior OnlineEarly Articles 05 June 2008

Interval-specific congenic strains (ISCS) allow fine mapping of a quantitative trait locus (QTL), narrowing its confidence interval by an order of magnitude or more.

In earlier work, we mapped four QTL specifying differential ethanol sensitivity, assessed by loss of righting reflex because of ethanol (LORE), in the inbred long-sleep (ILS) and inbred short-sleep (ISS) strains, accounting for approximately 50% of the genetic variance for this trait. Subsequently, we generated reciprocal congenic strains in which each full QTL interval from ILS was bred onto the ISS background and vice versa.

An earlier paper reported construction and results of the ISCS on the ISS background; here, we describe this process and report results on the ILS background. We developed multiple ISCS for each Lore QTL in which the QTL interval was broken into a number of smaller intervals.

For each of the four QTL regions (chromosomes 1, 2, 11 and 15), we were successful in reducing the intervals significantly. Multiple, positive strains were overlapped to generate a single, reduced interval. Subsequently, this reduced region was overlaid on previous reductions from the ISS background congenics, resulting in substantial reductions in all QTL regions by approximately 75% from the initial mapping study. Genes with sequence or expression polymorphisms in the reduced intervals are potential candidates; evidence for these is presented.

Genetic background effects can be important in detection of single QTL; combining this information with the generation of congenics on both backgrounds, as described here, is a powerful approach for fine mapping QTL.

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News Release - Minister Wallace warns alcohol advertising executives of the need for full compliance with the new advertising codes

04 June 2008

Ms Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety today (4th June 2008) warned advertising executives for the main Irish alcohol brands of the need for full compliance with the revised Codes on Advertising, Marketing and Sponsorship.

Speaking at a briefing session on the revised Codes organised for alcohol companies’ advertising executives and their advertising agencies, the Minister said that Government was extremely concerned about the impact of alcohol advertising on young people in particular. The revised Codes seek to control the content and volume of alcohol advertising across all media in Ireland.
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Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance --- United States, 2007

In the United States, 72% of all deaths among youth and young adults aged 10--24 years result from four causes: motor-vehicle crashes (30%), other unintentional injuries (15%), homicide (15%), and suicide (12%) (1). Substantial morbidity and social problems also result from the approximately 757,000 pregnancies among women aged 15--19 years (2), the estimated 9.1 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among persons aged 15--24 years (3), and the estimated 5,089 cases of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) among persons aged 15--24 years (4) that occur annually. Among adults aged >25 years, 59% of all deaths in the United States result from cardiovascular disease (36%) and cancer (23%) (1). These leading causes of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults in the United States are related to six categories of priority health-risk behaviors: behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV infection; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. These behaviors frequently are interrelated and are established during childhood and adolescence and extend into adulthood.

To monitor priority health-risk behaviors in each of these six categories and obesity and asthma among youth and young adults, CDC developed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) (5). YRBSS includes national, state, and local school-based surveys of students in grades 9--12. National, state, and local surveys have been conducted biennially since 1991 .

This report summarizes results from the 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and trends during 1991--2007 in selected risk behaviors. Data from the 39 state and 22 local surveys with weighted data for the 2007 YRBSS cycle also are included in this report. Data from the remaining five state surveys with unweighted data are not included. The national survey, 37 weighted state surveys, and 22 weighted local surveys were conducted during spring 2007, and two of the weighted state surveys were conducted during fall 2007.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Moderate Alcohol Use and Mortality from Ischaemic Heart Disease: A Prospective Study in Older Chinese People
PLoS ONE 3(6): e2370

Moderate alcohol use is generally associated with lower ischaemic heart disease (IHD) mortality but it is difficult to ascertain whether this is due to attributes of moderate alcohol users or the properties of alcohol itself. Evidence from populations with different patterns of alcohol use and IHD can provide crucial evidence. We assessed the association of moderate alcohol use with IHD mortality in older Chinese people from Hong Kong.

After a median follow-up of 4.2 years, there were 406 (188 in men, 218 in women) deaths from IHD in 54,090 subjects (96.3% successful follow-up). Moderate alcohol use in men was not associated with IHD mortality adjusted only for age [Hazard Ratio, HR 1.01 (95% CI 0.55 to 1.84) compared with never drinkers] or additionally adjusted for socio-economic status and lifestyle. Almost all women were occasional drinkers and their current alcohol use was not significantly associated with IHD mortality [HR 0.88, (95% CI 0.51 to 1.53)].

Moderate alcohol use had no effect on IHD mortality in older Chinese men. Lack of replication of the usual protective effect of moderate alcohol use in a setting with a different pattern of alcohol use and IHD could be due to chance or could suggest that the protective effect of alcohol on IHD does not extend to all populations.

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Randomized Controlled Trial of Web-Based Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention in Primary Care
Arch Intern Med.

There is compelling evidence supporting screening and brief intervention (SBI) for hazardous drinking, yet it remains underused in primary health care. Electronic (computer or Web-based) SBI (e-SBI) offers the prospects of ease and economy of access. We sought to determine whether e-SBI reduces hazardous drinking.

We conducted a randomized controlled trial in a university primary health care service. Participants were 975 students (age range, 17-29 years) screened using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Of 599 students who scored in the hazardous or harmful range, 576 (300 of whom were women) consented to the trial and were randomized to receive an information pamphlet (control group), a Web-based motivational intervention (single-dose e-SBI group), or a Web-based motivational intervention with further interventions 1 and 6 months later (multidose e-SBI group).

Relative to the control group, the single-dose e-SBI group at 6 months reported a lower frequency of drinking (rate ratio [RR], 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68-0.94), less total consumption (RR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.95), and fewer academic problems (RR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.64-0.91). At 12 months, statistically significant differences in total consumption (RR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.95 [equivalent to 3.5 standard drinks per week]) and in academic problems (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66-0.97) remained, and the AUDIT scores were 2.17 (95% CI, –1.10 to –3.24) points lower. Relative to the control group, the multidose e-SBI group at 6 months reported a lower frequency of drinking (RR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.73-0.98), less total consumption (RR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.64-0.97 [equivalent to 3.0 standard drinks per week]), reduced episodic heavy drinking (RR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.45-0.93), and fewer academic problems (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.65-0.93). At 12 months, statistically significant differences in academic problems remained (RR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.62-0.90), while the AUDIT scores were 2.02 (95% CI, –0.97 to –3.10) points lower.

Single-dose e-SBI reduces hazardous drinking, and the effect lasts 12 months. Additional sessions seem not to enhance the effect.

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PRESS RELEASE - Advertising, Alcohol and Adolescents

Where alcohol is associated with relaxation, fun, humour, friendship and being ‘cool’, it is likely to have some influence’- study

Issued on 4 June

The advertising of alcohol, the marketing of alcoholic products, peer pressure and parental influence all play a part in the level of alcohol consumption among young people.

These are the findings of a team of University of Leicester experts who have been investigating the effect of alcohol advertising on young people, which also indicate that advertising seems to be most effective in the case of alcopops and cider.

The study was funded by the Alcohol Education and Research Council.

Many teenagers experiment with alcohol. By the time they reach their mid teens, around one in two consume alcohol at least occasionally while increasing numbers drink to the point of drunkenness.

Professor Barrie Gunter, Anders Hansen and Dr Maria Touri, of the University of Leicester Department of Media and Communication, have carried out a study of alcohol advertising and young people’s drinking habits.

Their findings suggest that, while there is mixed evidence as to whether there is a direct link between volume of advertising and volume of alcohol consumption, there are links that can be made between advertising and teenage drinking.
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Alcohol consumption is associated with decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis; Results from two Scandinavian case-control studies
Ann Rheum Dis. Published Online First: 5 June 2008.

The aim of the present study is to determine the association between risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and alcohol consumption in combination with smoking and HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE).

Data from two independent case-control studies of RA, the Swedish EIRA (1204 cases and 871 controls) and the Danish CACORA- (444 cases and 533 controls) were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) of developing RA for different amounts of alcohol consumed.

Alcohol consumption was, more common in controls (p<0.05)> with reduced risk of RA (p-trend<0.001)> Among alcohol consumers, the quarter with highest consumption had a decreased risk of RA in the order of 40-50% compared with the half with the lowest consumption EIRA: (OR=0.5 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4-0.6) and CACORA: OR=0.6 (95% CI 0.4-0.9)). For the subset of RA that is seropositive for antibodies to citrullinated peptide antigens, alcohol consumption was observed to reduce the risk the most in smokers carrying HLA-DRB1 SE alleles.

The observed inverse association between alcohol intake and risk of RA and the recent demonstration of a preventive effect of alcohol in experimental arthritis, indicates that alcohol may protect against RA. This highlights the potential role of life-style in determining the risk to develop RA, and emphasises the advice to stop smoking, but not necessarily to abstain from alcohol in order to diminish risk of RA. More generally, the evidence of potential RA prevention, urges for additional studies on how this can be achieved.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

The shell of the nucleus accumbens has a higher dopamine response compared with the core after non-contingent intravenous ethanol administration
Neuroscience Article in Press, 16 April 2008

Dopamine increases in the nucleus accumbens after ethanol administration in rats, but the contributions of the core and shell subregions to this response are unclear.

The goal of this study was to determine the effect of various doses of i.v. ethanol infusions on dopamine in these two subregions of the nucleus accumbens.

Male Long-Evans rats were infused with either acute i.v. ethanol (0.5, 1.0, 1.5 g/kg), repeated i.v. ethanol (four 1.0 g/kg infusions resulting in a cumulative dose of 4.0 g/kg), or saline as a control for each condition. Dopamine and ethanol were measured in dialysate samples from each experiment. The in vivo extraction fraction for ethanol of probes was determined using i.v. 4-methylpyrazole, and was used to estimate peak brain ethanol concentrations after the infusions.

The peak brain ethanol concentrations after the 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 g/kg ethanol infusions were estimated to be 20, 49 and 57 mM, respectively. A significant dopamine increase was observed for the 0.5 g/kg ethanol group when collapsed across subregions.

However, both the 1.0 g/kg and 1.5 g/kg ethanol infusions produced significant increases in dopamine levels in the shell that were significantly higher than those in the core. An ethanol dose-response effect on dopamine in the shell was observed when saline controls, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 g/kg groups were compared. For the cumulative-dosing study, the first, second, and fourth infusions resulted in significant increases in dopamine in the shell. However, these responses were not significantly different from one another.

The results of this study show that the shell has a stronger response than the core to i.v. ethanol, that dopamine in the shell increases in a dose-dependent manner between 0.5–1.0 g/kg doses, but that the response to higher ethanol doses reaches a plateau.

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Linear Instrumental Variables Methods in Health Services Research and Health Economics: A Cautionary Note
Health Services Research 43 (3) , 1102–1120

To investigate potential bias in the use of the conventional linear instrumental variables (IV) method for the estimation of causal effects in inherently nonlinear regression settings.

Data Sources. Smoking Supplement to the 1979 National Health Interview Survey, National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey, and simulated data.

Potential bias from the use of the linear IV method in nonlinear models is assessed via simulation studies and real world data analyses in two commonly encountered regression setting: (1) models with a nonnegative outcome (e.g., a count) and a continuous endogenous regressor; and (2) models with a binary outcome and a binary endogenous regressor.

The simulation analyses show that substantial bias in the estimation of causal effects can result from applying the conventional IV method in inherently nonlinear regression settings. Moreover, the bias is not attenuated as the sample size increases. This point is further illustrated in the survey data analyses in which IV-based estimates of the relevant causal effects diverge substantially from those obtained with appropriate nonlinear estimation methods.

We offer this research as a cautionary note to those who would opt for the use of linear specifications in inherently nonlinear settings involving endogeneity.

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Idaho launches new fetal-alcohol warning program
Betsy Z. Russell
Staff writer
June 2, 2008

BOISE – Idaho state Rep. Liz Chavez tried unsuccessfully for two years to get legislation passed to warn about the risks of fetal alcohol syndrome wherever liquor is sold in Idaho, but now it’s happening anyway.

“I wasn’t going to give up,” said Chavez, D-Lewiston, whose legislation twice passed the House but failed in a Senate committee, this year without a hearing. “Not everything has to be legislated. It can be done cooperatively.”

Today, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, the state Department of Health and Welfare, the Idaho State Police, state lawmakers and others unveiled the new warning program, which includes stickers that will be displayed prominently at the checkout counters and on display cases at state liquor stores, warning, “Alcohol can harm your baby. Be an Alcohol-Free Mother-to-be.”
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Stores selling lager for as little as 25p a can 'put children's lives at risk'

03 June 2008
A SUPERMARKET price war is putting children's lives at risk with cut-price alcohol.

With cans of own-brand lager available from 25p when bought in large packs, and well-known brands such as Tennent's from 44p, critics say youngsters can easily afford to buy alcohol.

And because it is so cheap, under-age children can ask older teenagers to buy it for them, and then give them a can or two as a thank-you.
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Parents to get youth drink guide
2 June 2008

Parents are to be given guidelines on how much alcohol their children can safely consume, in a bid to encourage teenagers to drink more responsibly.

The government's youth alcohol action plan will crack down on off-licences which sell alcohol to under 18s and aim to reduce drinking in public.

Children Secretary Ed Balls says he thinks parents will welcome help to prevent youngsters from binge drinking.

But the Conservatives and Lib Dems say legislation will not solve the problem.
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Depressed Mood in Childhood and Subsequent Alcohol Use Through Adolescence and Young Adulthood
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(6):702-712.

Despite prior evidence supporting cross-sectional associations of depression and alcohol use disorders, there is relatively little prospective data on the temporal association between depressed mood and maladaptive drinking, particularly across extended intervals.

To assess the association between depressed mood in childhood and alcohol use during adolescence and young adulthood by mood level and sex and race/ethnicity subgroups.

Cohort study of individuals observed during late childhood, early adolescence, and young adulthood.

In adjusted regression analyses among those who drank alcohol, a high level of childhood depressed mood was associated with an earlier onset and increased risk of alcohol intoxication, alcohol-related problems during late childhood and early adolescence, and development of DSM-IV alcohol dependence in young adulthood.

Early manifestations associated with possible depressive conditions in childhood helped predict and account for subsequent alcohol involvement extending across life stages from childhood through young adulthood.

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Genetic and Environmental Influences on Alcohol, Caffeine, Cannabis, and Nicotine Use From Early Adolescence to Middle Adulthood
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(6):674-682.

While both environmental and genetic factors are important in the etiology of psychoactive substance use (PSU), we know little of how these influences differ through development.

To clarify the changing role of genes and environment in PSU from early adolescence through middle adulthood.

For nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis, familial environmental factors were critical in influencing use in early adolescence and gradually declined in importance through young adulthood. Genetic factors, by contrast, had little or no influence on PSU in early adolescence and gradually increased in their effect with increasing age. The sources of individual differences in caffeine use changed much more modestly over time. Substantial correlations were seen among levels of cannabis, nicotine, and alcohol use and specifically between caffeine and nicotine. In adolescence, those correlations were strongly influenced by shared effects from the familial environment. However, as individuals aged, more and more of the correlation in PSU resulted from genetic factors that influenced use of both substances.

These results support an etiologic model for individual differences in PSU in which initiation and early patterns of use are strongly influenced by social and familial environmental factors while later levels of use are strongly influenced by genetic factors. The substantial correlations seen in levels of PSU across substances are largely the result of social environmental factors in adolescence, with genetic factors becoming progressively more important through early and middle adulthood.

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Ed Balls: Giving drink to young may be banned

Gene-Environment Correlation and Interaction in Peer Effects on Adolescent Alcohol and Tobacco Use
Behavior Genetics March 27, 2008

Peer relationships are commonly thought to be critical for adolescent socialization, including the development of negative health behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use.

The interplay between genetic liability and peer influences on the development of adolescent alcohol and tobacco use was examined using a nationally-representative sample of adolescent sibling pairs and their best friends.

Genetic factors, some of them related to an adolescent’s own substance use and some of them independent of use, were associated with increased exposure to best friends with heavy substance use—a gene-environment correlation. Moreover, adolescents who were genetically liable to substance use were more vulnerable to the adverse influences of their best friends—a gene-environment interaction.

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Mapping a locus for alcohol physical dependence and associated withdrawal to a 1.1 Mb interval of mouse chromosome 1 syntenic with human chromosome 1q23.2-23.3
Genes, Brain and Behavior OnlineEarly Articles 02 June 2008

Physiological dependence and associated withdrawal episodes are thought to constitute a motivational force perpetuating continued alcohol use/abuse. Although no animal model duplicates alcoholism, models for specific factors, like the withdrawal syndrome, are useful to identify potential determinants of liability in humans.

We previously detected quantitative trait loci (QTLs) with large effects on predisposition to physical dependence and associated withdrawal following chronic or acute alcohol exposure to a large region of chromosome 1 in mice (Alcdp1 and Alcw1, respectively).

Here, we provide the first confirmation of Alcw1 in a congenic strain, and, using interval-specific congenic strains, narrow its position to a minimal 1.1 Mb (maximal 1.7 Mb) interval syntenic with human chromosome 1q23.2-23.3. We also report the development of a small donor segment congenic that confirms capture of a gene(s) affecting physical dependence after chronic alcohol exposure within this small interval.

This congenic will be invaluable for determining whether this interval harbors a gene(s) involved in additional alcohol responses for which QTLs have been detected on distal chromosome 1, including alcohol consumption, alcohol-conditioned aversion and -induced ataxia.

The possibility that this QTL plays an important role in such diverse responses to alcohol makes it an important target. Moreover, human studies have identified markers on chromosome 1q associated with alcoholism, although this association is still suggestive and mapped to a large region.

Thus, the fine mapping of this QTL and analyses of the genes within the QTL interval can inform developing models for genetic determinants of alcohol dependence in humans.

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02 June 2008

A comprehensive plan to stop young people drinking in public; help them make the right decisions about alcohol; and provide clear information to parents and young people about the risks of early drinking was announced today by Ed Balls, Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson in the Government’s Youth Alcohol Action Plan.

The Action Plan sets out what the Government will do to address drinking by young people in three main ways

* Working with police and the courts to stop it, making it clear that unsupervised drinking by young people under-18 in public places is unacceptable;

* Recognising that drinking by young people in the home is clearly the responsibility of parents and families, but providing clearer health information for parents and young people about how consumption of alcohol can affect children and young people. The Action Plan announces that the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson will produce clear guidelines for families;

* Working with the alcohol industry to continue the good progress made to reduce the sale of alcohol to under-18s but also in marketing and promoting alcohol in a more responsible way.
While the proportion of young people who drink regularly has fallen, the consumption of alcohol by those who do drink has risen sharply. And the ways in which young people are drinking have changed. The Youth Alcohol Action Plan promises a powerful package of action to tackle this:

* New laws to stop young people drinking in public places, including a new offence to tackle persistent possession of alcohol;

* New authoritative guidelines from the Chief Medical Officer about young people, alcohol and health;

* Establishing a new partnership with parents by providing them with clear information they need to guide their children towards low risk drinking; and

* Supporting and encouraging young people themselves through publicity campaigns and education in schools to make the right decisions about alcohol.

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Population genetic analyses of susceptibility to developing alcohol dependence
Addiction Research & Theory Online early 31 May 2008

Acting on the assumption that susceptibility to alcohol dependence is genetically controlled, we have developed a hypothesis that a generally increased homozygosity level, as well as a changed variability in the group of alcoholics, could be a population genetic parameter for predicting this dependence.

This population genetic study revealed not only a statistically significant difference in the mean values of genetic homozygosity (A: 9.3  ± 0.2, C: 8.2  ± 0.2), but also the differences in the distribution type, as well as in the variances of presence of certain specific combinations of such traits. In 18 of the 25 observed characteristics, recessive homozygosity was expressed to a greater degree among the group of alcoholics, while for 10 of the traits this level of difference was statistically significant.

The fact that the genes controlling such qualitative recessive traits are distributed in different human chromosomes as their visible markers, could indicate that the genetic homozygosity degrees are visibly higher in the sample of alcohol dependents when compared to the group of individuals free from such dependence.

Further application of the HRC testing as an easy procedure may have its practical use in identifying the presence of such indicators in young individuals in order to detect a possible future inclination to alcoholism.

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Parents, police powers and ID targeted in new crackdown on teenage binge drinkers

Patrick Wintour, political editor
The Guardian,
Monday June 2 2008

Parents are to be advised at what age they should let their children drink alcohol at home, under government plans to be announced today to tackle youth binge drinking.

All pubs and clubs will also be expected to seek ID before serving alcohol to anyone looking 21 or younger.

Licensed premises will lose their licence or face fines if they break the law on underage drinking twice. At present fines are imposed only after three offences.

The proposals are on top of plans set out by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, at the weekend to make it unlawful for anyone under 18 to "persistently" possess alcohol in public. Police will be given powers to disperse groups of children as young as 10, instead of 16 as at present.

Ministers say there is conclusive evidence that a minority of young people are drinking more heavily, with damaging social and health consequences. Ed Balls, the children's secretary, will announce that the chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, will be asked to draw up advice for parents on when they should let their children drink at home.
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Employment trajectory as determinant of change in health-related lifestyle: the prospective HeSSup study
The European Journal of Public Health Advance Access published online on May 31, 2008

Changes in employment status may be associated with changes in health-related lifestyle, but population level research of such associations is very limited. This study aimed to determine associations between lifestyle and five employment trajectories, i.e. ‘stable’, ‘unstable’, ‘upward’ ‘downward’ and ‘chronic unemployment’.

A cohort of 10 100 employees was followed up for 5 years. Associations of the employment trajectories with changes in smoking, alcohol drinking, body weight, physical activity and sleep duration were assessed with analysis of variance for repeated measures and pairwise post hoc comparisons.

Smoking was the only lifestyle component that was not associated with employment trajectory. In both genders, sleep duration decreased during chronic unemployment and among those on a downward employment trajectory. In men, alcohol consumption also increased in these two groups and body weight increased in the latter group. In women, physical activity decreased among those on a downward trajectory. In contrast, an upward labour market trajectory was associated with healthy or no changes in lifestyle both in men and women.

Changes in lifestyle may contribute to development of the health gradients between the employed and unemployed, whereas unstable employment versus permanent employment does not incur risk of unhealthy lifestyle changes. In order to prevent widening of employment-related health inequalities, passages into employment should be facilitated and opportunities for health promotion should be improved among those trapped in or moving towards the labour market periphery.

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Shifting Signals to Help Health: Using Identity-Signaling to Reduce Risky Health Behaviors
Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 35, 2008

This research examines how identity-based interventions can improve consumer health.

Results of laboratory and field experiments reveal that associating risky health behaviors with a social identity people do not want to signal can contaminate the behaviors and lead consumers to make healthier choices. College freshman reported consuming less alcohol (experiment 2), and restaurant patrons selected less fattening food (experiment 3), when drinking alcohol and eating junk food were presented as markers of avoidance groups.

These findings demonstrate that identity- based interventions can shift the identities associated with real-world behaviors, thereby improving the health of populations.

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