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Friday, March 20, 2009

Weakening of one more alcohol control pillar: a review of the effects of the alcohol tax cuts in Finland in 2004
Addiction Volume 104 Issue 4, Pages 554 - 563

To review the consequences of the changes in Finnish alcohol policy in 2004, when quotas for travellers' tax-free imports of alcoholic beverages from other European Union (EU) countries were abolished, Estonia joined the EU and excise duties on alcoholic beverages were reduced in Finland by one-third, on average.

Alcohol consumption increased 10% in 2004, clearly more than in the early 2000s. With few exceptions, alcohol-related harms increased. Alcohol-induced liver disease deaths increased the most, by 46% in 2004–06 compared to 2001–03, which indicates a strong effect on pre-2004 heavy drinkers. Consumption and harms increased most among middle-aged and older segments of the population, and harms in the worst-off parts of the population in particular.

Alcohol taxation and alcohol prices affect consumption and related harms, and heavy drinkers are responsive to price. In Finland in 2004, the worst-off parts of the population paid the highest price in terms of health for cuts in alcohol prices. The removal of travellers' import quotas, which was an inherent part of creating the single European market, had serious public health consequences in Finland.
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Concurrent Illicit Drug and Alcohol Use

Because of possible additive or interactive drug effects, data from SAMHSA's 2006 and 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health were pooled to examine the likelihood of multiple concurrent substance use. The measure used to define concurrent substance use for this report was illicit drug use during or within 2 hours of last alcohol use.

About 6% (7.1 million) of persons age 12 or older who drank alcohol in the past month also reported using an illicit drug during or within 2 hours of their last alcohol drink.

Among past month alcohol drinkers, American Indian or Alaska Natives (11.7%) and Blacks (9.9%) were the most likely racial groups and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders (4.2%) and Asians (2.1%) were the least likely racial groups to use an illicit drug concurrently with alcohol.

Youth aged 12 to 17 and young adults aged 18 to 25 were more likely than older persons among the past month alcohol drinkers to drink alcohol concurrently with an illicit drug.

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Alcohol Use and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
American Journal of Epidemiology Advance Access published online on March 18, 2009

The epidemiologic evidence for the role of alcohol use in pancreatic cancer development is equivocal.
The authors prospectively examined the relation between alcohol use and risk of pancreatic cancer among 470,681 participants who were aged 50–71 years in 1995–1996 in the US National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. The authors identified 1,149 eligible exocrine pancreatic cancer cases through December 2003. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate relative risks and 95% confidence intervals with the referent group being light drinkers
The relative risks of developing pancreatic cancer were 1.45 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17, 1.80; Ptrend = 0.002) for heavy total alcohol use (3 drinks/day, 40 g of alcohol/day) and 1.62 (95% CI: 1.24, 2.10; Ptrend = 0.001) for heavy liquor use, compared with the respective referent group. The increased risk with heavy total alcohol use was seen in never smokers (relative risk = 1.35, 95% CI: 0.79, 2.30) and participants who quit smoking 10 or more years ago before baseline (relative risk = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.01, 2.00).
These findings suggest a moderately increased pancreatic cancer risk with heavy alcohol use, particularly liquor; however, residual confounding by cigarette smoking cannot be completely excluded.
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