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, March 29, 2008

Drink-fuelled antics? Not our fault, say students

Anushka Asthana, education correspondent
Sunday March 30, 2008

College leaders have attacked firms organising pub crawls. But the companies say it is student unions themselves that foster the worst excesses

A blonde student lifted her glazed eyes to the camera, held up her drink and smiled. She was wearing stockings with a lace slip and had ripped her T-shirt in half to reveal her bra.

She was on an organised pub crawl in which hundreds of undergraduates lurched from bar to bar as they cheered, laughed and downed drink after drink - a sight which seems typical of many university towns. But it is a stereotypical image that students are hoping to shed. The National Union of Students will call this week for a campaign to promote 'responsible drinking' on campuses across the country, in a motion to be put forward at its annual conference .
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Time magazine features Britain's violent youth

The Telegraph
By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent

Britain's problems with binge-drinking and youth violence are held up to the world today by the American magazine Time.

The front cover of its international edition pictures a "hoodie" and mugshots of other young men over a Union flag.

Its headline reads: "Unhappy, Unloved, and Out of Control - An epidemic of violence, crime and drunkenness has made Britain scared of its young."

The weekly magazine, which goes on newsstands today across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, cites a survey by the children's charity TS Rebel which found last year that more than a fifth of Britons avoided going out at night rather than risk encounters with groups of intimidating youths.

A 3,200-word article, spread over several pages, comments: "It's easy to see why. The boys and girls who casually pick fights, have sex and keep the emergency services fully occupied are often fuelled by cheap booze."
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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 Online 19 Mar 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 (Kozell et al. 2008).

Here we report a detailed analysis of the genes within this interval and show that it contains 40 coding genes, 17 of which demonstrate 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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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, Online 19 Mar 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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Substance Use and Dependence Following Initiation of Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use


  • Alcohol and illicit drug dependence were defined in SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health using the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria which includes such symptoms as withdrawal, tolerance, unsuccessful attempts to cut down on use, and continued use despite health and emotional problems caused by the substance.
  • Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3.2% of the persons aged 12 or older who first used alcohol 13 to 24 months prior to the survey interview were dependent on alcohol in the past 12 months.
  • Of the persons aged 12 or older who first used marijuana 13 to 24 months prior to the survey interview, 5.8% were dependent on marijuana in the past year.
  • Among new users of crack cocaine in the 13 to 24 months prior to the survey interview, 9.2% were dependent on any type of cocaine in the past year.
  • Of the new users of heroin in the 13 to 24 months prior to the survey interview, 13.4% were dependent on heroin in the past year.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Determination of Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters (FAEE) and Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) in Hair: A Promising Way for Retrospective Detection of Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy?
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring. 30(2):255-263, April 2008.

The retrospective detection of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is an important part of the diagnosis of the fetal alcohol syndrome. A promising way to solve this problem can be the determination of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) or/and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in hair of the mothers.

In this article, the present state in analytical determination and interpretation of FAEE and EtG concentrations in hair are reviewed. Both FAEE and EtG are minor metabolites of ethanol and as direct alcohol markers very specific for alcohol. They are durably deposited in hair, which enables taking advantage of the long diagnostic time window of this sample material. In the last years, specific and sensitive methods for determination of both alcohol markers in hair were developed.

Headspace solid phase microextraction in combination with gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy after hair extraction with an n-heptane/dimethylsulfoxide mixture proved to be a favorable technique for determination of four characteristic FAEE (ethyl myristate, ethyl palmitate, ethyl oleate, and ethyl stearate).

EtG is extracted from hair by water and analyzed either by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy with negative chemical ionization after cleanup with solid phase extraction and derivatization with pentafluoropropionic anhydride or by liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy-mass spectroscopy.

The detection limits of the single FAEE as well as of EtG are in the range of 1 to 10 pg/mg. FAEE as well as EtG were determined in a larger number of hair samples of teetotalers, social drinkers, patients in alcohol withdrawal treatment, and death cases with previous known heavy drinking.

From the results, the following criteria were derived: strict abstinence is excluded or improbable at CFAEE >0.2 ng/mg or CEtG >7 pg/mg. Moderate social drinkers should have CFAEE <0.5 ng/mg and CEtG <25 pg/mg; above these values, alcohol abuse is probable.

Until now, there has been no evaluation in context of FAS diagnosis; however, a successful application for this purpose can be expected from the good experience in driving ability examination.

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Alarming Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Exposure in a Mediterranean City.
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring. 30(2):249-254, April 2008.

The prevalence of gestational ethanol exposure and subsequent fetal exposure has been assessed in a cohort of mother-infant dyads in a Mediterranean city (Barcelona, Spain) by meconium analysis of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) after showing in this population a high prevalence of meconium opiates (8.7%), cocaine (4.4%), and cannabis (5.3%).

Of the 353 meconium samples analyzed for FAEEs, 159 (45%) contained a total amount of seven FAEEs equal or above 2 nmol/g meconium, the cutoff internationally accepted to differentiate heavy maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy from occasional use or no use at all. No parental sociodemographic differences or maternal features differentiated exposed from unexposed newborns. The prevalence of gestational consumption of ethanol was similar between women using and not using drugs of abuse during pregnancy (45.7% and 44.7% of samples with total FAEEs equal or higher than 2 nmol/g meconium, respectively).

Meconium samples from newborns exposed in utero to ethanol, and positive for at least one illicit drug (cocaine, opiates, or cannabis), had total FAEEs and five of nine individual FAEEs statistically higher than the meconium samples that were negative for the most frequently used illicit drugs of abuse. Among the most prevalent FAEEs, oleic acid ethyl ester showed the best correlation to total FAEE concentration followed by palmitoleic acid ethyl ester.

This study, which highlights a 45% ethanol consumption during pregnancy in a low socioeconomic status cohort, may serve as an eye opener for Europeans that gestational alcohol exposure is not endemic only in areas outside of Europe.

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Effects of GABRA2 Variation on Physiological, Psychomotor and Subjective Responses in the Alcohol Challenge Twin Study
Twin Research and Human Genetics Volume: 11 Issue: 2 pp. 174-182

Multiple reports have identified variation in the GABRA2 gene as contributing to the genetic susceptibility to alcohol dependence. However, both the mechanism behind this association, and the range of alcohol-related phenotypes affected by variation in this gene, are currently undefined. Other data suggest that the risk of alcohol dependence is increased by relative insensitivity to alcohol's intoxicating effects.

We have therefore tested whether GABRA2 variation is associated with variation in the subjective and objective effects of a standard dose of alcohol in humans. Data on responses to alcohol from the Alcohol Challenge Twin Study (Martin et al., 1985) have been tested against allelic and haplotype information obtained by typing 41 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in or close to the GABRA2 gene.

Nominally significant allelic associations (p < .05, without correction for multiple testing) were found for body sway, motor coordination, pursuit rotor and arithmetical computation tasks, and for the personality dimension of Neuroticism. Because of the large number of phenotypes tested, these possibly significant findings will need to be confirmed in further studies.

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Can Sips at Home Prevent Binges?

Dining & Wine

Published: March 26, 2008

PARENTS always want to share their passions with their children. Whether you’re a fan of baseball or the blues, sailing or tinkering with old cars, few things are as rewarding as seeing a spark of receptivity in the eyes of the next generation.

It usually doesn’t take. Most of the time kids — teenagers, anyway — would as soon snicker at their old man’s obsessions as indulge him. Even so, I can’t help hoping that my sons might share my taste in music and food, books and movies, ball teams and politics. Why should wine be any different?

It’s the alcohol, of course, which makes wine not just tricky but potentially hazardous. Nonetheless, I would like to teach my sons — 16 and 17 — that wine is a wonderful part of a meal. I want to teach them to enjoy it while also drumming it into them that when abused, wine, like any other alcoholic beverage, can be a grave danger.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trial scheme to breathalyse children

  • Society Guardian,
  • Thursday March 27 2008

    Children could be breathalysed under radical new plans to tackle underage drinking.

    Police officers will also use test strips to check to see if soft drinks have been mixed with alcohol.

    Under the new plans, which are to be piloted in North Wales, teenagers could be stopped in the street and tested for alcohol. Teens who are found with alcohol or who fail the test will be taken home to their parents.
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Genetic factors influencing alcohol dependence
British Journal of Pharmacology advance online publication 24 March 2008

Plentiful data from both animal and human studies support the importance of genetic influences in substance abuse and dependence (Bierut et al., 1998; Tsuang et al., 1998; Kendler et al., 2003).

This review summarizes the evidence supporting such genetic influences, places them into perspective regarding animal and human studies, discusses the importance of both genes and environment, and highlights some specific genes of interest regarding the vulnerabilities for problems associated with alcohol use disorders.

A long history of repetitive heavy use of alcohol exists across generations as well as the high prevalence of alcohol-related problems in Western societies. Moreover, the information offered here addresses the importance of more general issues regarding genetics and gene expression related to alcohol abuse and dependence.

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The Short Allele of the Serotonin Transporter Promoter Polymorphism Influences Relapse in Alcohol Dependence
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on March 25, 2008

The short (S) allele of the serotonin transporter gene promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) contributes to the risk of alcohol dependence and co-occurring clinical features. We studied the putative link between this allele and relapse.

48 alcohol-dependent male patients were recruited and genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR. Relapse to alcohol drinking was monitored during 3 months after standardized withdrawal.

The S allele was significantly associated with relapse (p = 0.008) while no other factor that was measured played a significant role.

The S allele of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism may influence the risk of relapse in abstinent alcohol-dependent patients, possibly through intermediate phenotypes.

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Childhood and Current Determinants of Heavy Drinking in Early Adulthood
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on March 25, 2008

To explore the association of parental education, childhood living conditions and several adversities with heavy drinking in early adulthood, and to analyze the effect of the respondent's current circumstances on these associations.

8% of young adult men and 5% of women were heavy drinkers. In both genders, parental alcohol problems and other childhood adversities, poor own education, and unemployment status increased the risk of heavy drinking. The impact of childhood on heavy drinking was partly independent and partly mediated by adult characteristics, in particular, for both genders, low level of education.

Childhood adversities are associated with heavy drinking in early adulthood among both genders. Childhood social circumstances as well as low educational level and unemployment should be taken into account in planning preventive policies to tackle the harms caused by excessive alcohol use at the individual and population level.

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Prevention of "Risky" Drinking Among Students at a Brazilian University
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on March 25, 2008

The aim of this paper was to compare the quantity and frequency of alcohol use and its associated negative consequences between two groups of college students who were identified as being "risky drinkers." Subjects were randomly allocated in a clinical trial to intervention or control groups.

Treated students at a 24-month follow-up decreased quantity of alcohol use per occasion and lowered AUDIT and RAPI scores.

This is the first brief intervention work on risky drinking with college students in Brazil and the results are encouraging. However, it is difficult to conduct individual prevention strategies in a country where culture fosters heavy drinking through poor public policy on alcohol and lack of law enforcement.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Women warned not to drink alcohol in first 3 months of

  • The Guardian,
  • Wednesday March 26 2008

· Glass of wine a week safe during later stages
· NHS watchdog overturns earlier guidelines

The NHS standards watchdog will today warn women not to drink any alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy, abandoning its own draft guidelines that were published last year.

The new advice by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) also suggests that women should be much stricter about what they drink from the fourth month onwards: a small amount of alcohol is safe, but never more than one or two days a week.

The apparent U-turn by Nice comes after it caused a furore last autumn when it suggested that pregnant women could drink every day, advice that contradicted a hardline message of abstinence that was being promulgated by the Department of Health.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Low-alcohol wine to help cut drinking
By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:56am GMT 25/03/2008

Middle-class drinkers will be encouraged to switch to low-alcohol wines as part of government plans to reduce problem drinking.

Ministers are putting pressure on the European Commission to relax strict rules on wine making, in order to make it easier for producers to sell wines with alcohol content as low as 6.5 per cent.

European Union rules in effect ban the sale of most low-strength wines, and the Food Standards Agency has had to impound some low-alcohol wines brought to Britain for sale in recent years.
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Descriptive epidemiology of intimate partner aggression in Ukraine
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Online 22 Mar 2008

Partner aggression is believed to be widespread in Eastern Europe although systematic evidence is sparse. Using data from the World Mental Health (WMH) survey in Ukraine, we present the first population-based findings on the descriptive epidemiology of partner aggression among married adults.

More women than men reported aggression by their spouse in the past year (12.7 vs. 5.8%) or ever in the marriage (20.1 vs. 8.6%), while ~11 and 19% of both sexes behaved aggressively against their spouse in these time periods.

Among men, the unique risk factors for behaving aggressively were being married once, witnessing parental violence, early onset alcohol abuse, and intermittent explosive disorders (IED); the risk factors for reporting that their wives were aggressive were early onset alcohol abuse, IED and marital problems.

Among women, the risk factors for behaving aggressively were younger age, unemployment, living in a rural area, early onset alcohol abuse, mood/anxiety disorders, and marital problems; the risk factors for reporting that their husbands behaved aggressively were younger age, early onset alcohol abuse, and marital problems.

Partner aggression is a significant public health issue in Ukraine predicted by alcohol abuse and IED before and after age 20 for men and women.

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Funding for alcohol misuse


Record funding of £25 million for tackling alcohol misuse was announced today.

Funding across Scotland for alcohol screening, prevention and treatment services will more than double. This compares to £10.13 million in 2007/08.

The package forms part of an additional £85 million funding commitment to tackle alcohol misuse over the next three years.

Visiting an alcohol liaison nurse project at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock today, Minister for Public Health Shona Robison said:

"The record funding I am announcing today demonstrates the Scottish Government's clear commitment to address Scotland's complex relationship with alcohol.

"Far too many Scots are drinking above the recommended amounts on a regular basis - often without realising that they are doing so, and without understanding the impact it is having on their health.

"Today's funding will ensure that people across Scotland have access to advice and support about their drinking and to treatment services where necessary.

"But Scottish Government action does not stop there. We are currently developing a long term strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse. We plan to publish our proposals for action before the summer."

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Evaluation of the Impact of the Licensing Act 2003

The Licensing Act 2003 saw the biggest reform in licensing law for 40 years. It has impacted on around 190,000 businesses; non-profit making clubs; charity, community and voluntary groups, and almost the entire population of England and Wales who live in the vicinity of, or visit licensed premises.

The new streamlined system has introduced a more proportionate regulation for businesses, and over time should deliver financial and administrative savings for the retail, hospitality, entertainment and leisure industries.

The Government put in place programme of projects to evaluate the impact of the new regime. That programme of evaluation is now complete and DCMS has issued a report outlining the main conclusions from that work:

Andy Burham's written statement on the "Evaluation of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003". [04 March 2008]

More information on the Licensing Act 2003 can be found in the "Alcohol & entertainment" pages of the"What we do" section of this site.


Transcriptional profiling of the rat frontal cortex following administration of the mGlu5 receptor antagonists MPEP and MTEP
European Journal of Pharmacology Article in Press, Corrected Proof 20 Feb 2008

The development of selective type 5 metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGlu5) antagonists, such as 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine (MPEP) and 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl)ethynyl]-pyridine (MTEP), has revealed an important role for these receptors in various disorders of the nervous system including depression, anxiety, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

In this study, we used microarray technology to examine changes in gene expression induced by repeated administration of the mGlu5 antagonists MPEP and MTEP.

The expression of 63 genes was changed by both MPEP and MTEP, with 58 genes down-regulated and 5 genes up-regulated. Quantitative PCR verified the magnitude and direction of change in expression of 9 of these genes (r2 = 0.556, p = 0.017). Pathway analysis revealed that many of the biological processes altered by repeated MPEP and MTEP treatment were related to ATP synthesis, hydrolase activity, and signaling pathways associated with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK).

Our results demonstrate diverse effects of MPEP and MTEP gene expression in the frontal cortex, and these results may help elucidate the mechanisms by which these compounds produce beneficial effects in animal models of various disorders of the central nervous system.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Communicating Through Government Agencies V. The Message on Moderate Drinking
Annals of Epidemiology
Volume 17, Issue 5, Supplement 1, May 2007, Pages S98-S102

A comparison of worldwide recommendations on alcohol consumption reveals wide disparity among countries. This could imply that many of the recommendations do not adequately accommodate the science, given that the science is equally valid worldwide. Such a view, however, would be an oversimplification of the problem that those who formulate such guidelines face.

The objective of guidelines is to influence and change behavior among target populations. It follows, therefore, that several factors then become relevant: behavior that is thought to be in need of change, the culture and mindset of the target populations, and the kind of message that is likely to be effective.

There are some tensions between advice intended only to reduce the prevalence of misuse and that which also seeks to reflect the evidence on the beneficial health effects of moderate consumption.

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Alcohol consumption: the good, the bad, and the indifferent

Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 33(1): 12–20 (2008)

Dietary ethanol (alcohol) is the most widely consumed drug worldwide. High levels of mortality, morbidity, and social malaise are associated with abuse of alcohol, and increasing numbers of women and youth are abusing alcohol.

However, strong epidemiological data demonstrate a U- or J-shaped relationship between volume of alcohol consumed and all-cause mortality or disease burden. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and disease burden than are abstinence and immoderate drinking.

A brief review of the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of ethanol is provided with a discussion of the impact of gender differences. Potential mechanisms by which ethanol, ethanol metabolites, and (or) phytochemicals, as associated with different types of ethanol-containing beverages, are discussed in regards to the beneficial and detrimental impacts they may have on physiological system functioning and mortality or disease burden.

Per capita consumption of ethanol-containing beverages varies across geo-political regions worldwide. A more recent research focus is the impact of consumption patterns on consumption volumes as they relate to disease and mortality. Certain drinking patterns moderate overall volume of ethanol consumption.

Thus, an emerging approach to the study of alcohol consumption in populations is to consider both the volume and pattern of consumption as they relate to mortality and disease burden.

Alcohol consumption patterns among athletes are discussed; physiological implications of alcohol abuse in this population are outlined.

Current guidelines for the consumption of alcohol are reviewed. Alcohol consumption guidelines reflect the current scientific understanding of both the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and the detriments of immoderate alcohol consumption.

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