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 27, 2010

ERGR: An ethanol-related gene resource

Over the last decade rapid progress has been made in the study of ethanol-related traits including alcohol abuse and dependence, and behavioral responses to ethanol in both humans and animal models.

To collect, curate, integrate these results so as to make them easily accessible and interpretable for researchers, we developed ERGR, a comprehensive ethanol-related gene resource.

We collected and curated more than 30 large-scale data sets including linkage, association and microarray gene expression from the literature and 21 mouse QTLs from public databases.

At present, the ERGR deposits ethanol-related information of ~7000 genes from five organisms: human (3311), mouse (2129), rat (679), fly (614) and worm (228). ERGR provides gene annotations and orthologs, detailed gene study information (e.g. fold changes of gene expression,
P-values), and both the text and BLAST searches.

Moreover, ERGR has data integration tools such as for data union and intersection, and candidate gene selection based on evidence in multiple datasets or organisms.

The ERGR database is evolving with new data releases. More functions will also be added. ERGR has a user-friendly web interface with browse and search functions at multiple levels. It is freely available at

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Nonfatal unintentional injuries and related factors among male construction workers in central China

Work-related injuries (WRIs) among construction workers have recently emerged as an important public health issue as the construction industry is booming in China. We investigated nonfatal unintentional work-related injuries and risk factors among male construction workers in central China.

Among 1,260 male construction workers, 189 workers reported WRIs. The annual prevalence of nonfatal WRIs was 15.0 per 100 workers (95% confidence interval (CI): 13.0-17.0). The top three leading causes of injuries were collisions (27.3 per 100 workers), cuts/piercings (17.5 per 100 workers), and falls (15.5 per 100 workers).

WRIs were significantly associated with high cigarette pack-year index (PYI 20 vs. nonsmoker: adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 2.50, 95% CI: 1.31-4.76), serious alcohol consumption (30ml/day vs. nondrinker: adjusted OR = 1.73, 95 %CI: 1.12-2.69), not having injury prevention and safety education (adjusted OR = 2.05, 95% CI: 1.22-3.44), and had depressive symptoms (adjusted OR = 2.63, 95% CI: 1.22-5.67).

Our results suggest that annual prevalence of nonfatal construction injuries is high in central China and serious cigarette smoking, serious alcohol consumption, not having injury prevention and safety education, and depressive symptoms are considered important factors for those injuries.

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Budget 2010: Cider drinkers hit hardest by tax rises on alcohol

Cider drinkers were left with a flat taste in the mouth yesterday after the Chancellor picked them out for a punitive tax rise.

From midnight on Sunday duty on cider will increase by 10 per cent above inflation. The price of a bottle of cider will rise by 9p while a litre of cider will cost an extra 5p.

A 1 per cent increase in duty on beer, wine and spirits will come into force at the same time, adding 2p to a pint, 10p on a bottle of wine and 36p to a bottle of spirits. Alcohol duties will rise by 2 per cent above the rate of inflation for two more years from 2013.

The definition of cider will be changed so that higher-strength versions are taxed more. More than one in ten adults drinks cider at least once a month. . . . . .

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Alcohol key laws passed in Queensland

High-risk drink-drivers will be forced to install a breath testing device in their own car and blow a negative reading before they can start up under new laws in Queensland.

The newly-passed legislation, to come into effect by Christmas, will make the devices mandatory for around 12,000 people convicted of drink-driving each year, Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said. . . . . .

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Alcohol Content in Declared Non - or Low Alcoholic Beverages: Implications to Pregnancy

Alcohol consumption in pregnancy may result in serious adverse fetal outcome. Non- or low alcoholic wines and beers may be a risk-reduction strategy to help alcohol-dependent individuals to prevent or limit ethanol consumption. The objective of this study was to quantify ethanol concentrations in Canadian beverages claiming to contain no or low alcohol content.

Forty-five different beverages claiming to contain no or low alcohol content in the Canadian market were tested for ethanol concentration using gas chromatography.

Thirteen (29%) of the beverages contained ethanol levels higher than the declared concentration on their label. Six beverages claiming to contain no alcohol were found to contain greater than 1% ethanol.

Pregnant women seeking replacement to alcoholic beverages may be misled by these labels, unknowingly exposing themselves and their unborn babies to ethanol.

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Normal Distribution of Palpebral Fissure Lengths in Canadian School Age Children

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) includes the facial dysmorphic feature of short palpebral fissures (PFs) and short PFs are a key physical marker for identifying children with FAS and some other rarer conditions. There is concern that normative data on PFs now available may not reflect all racial/ethnic groups and might be inaccurate in general.

To accomplish a large population based study that would accurately determine normative PF values across the full diversity of the Canadian school age population.

Analysis demonstrated that PFs do grow with age and there is a slight but meaningful difference between boys and girls in each age group. It is possible to define Canadian standards without reference to racial or ethnic origin.

Mean results with norms and standard deviations are presented in figures for clinical use and are clinically smaller than those found in the most commonly used reference book.

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Managing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Public School System: A Needs Assessment Pilot

Published data and Canadian population reports suggest that approximately 1% of students in Toronto may have learning problems related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). It is therefore imperative to understand how the needs of affected students are being met by various practitioners in their school environment. To date no comprehensive follow-up studies on FASD-affected children, families and educators in Toronto public schools are available. Documentation of school experiences associated with FASDs is needed to aid in developing appropriate and efficient intervention models for FASDs.

Identify and document needs as related to school capacities and education practitioner capabilities with respect to their abilities to support children diagnosed with FASDs.

Participants represented approximately 3500 students enrolled amongst their schools and classrooms. Only one respondent reported having worked with a child diagnosed with an FASD during their career. Education practitioners commonly report a lack of knowledge of FASDs and how to appropriately plan for affected children.

Practitioners need additional supports in order to address FASDs in their schools. As this is the first pilot study on FASDs in the Ontario school system, further study is warranted.

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Profile of the First 1,400 Patients Receiving Diagnostic Evalutions for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder at the Washington State Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

An interdisciplinary approach to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) diagnosis using rigorously defined diagnostic guidelines has been adopted as best practice. Diagnostic clinics are being established worldwide. If these clinics are to successfully compete for limited health care dollars, it is essential to document their value.

The primary objectives were to document the value of the largest and longest standing interdisciplinary FASD diagnostic program; the Washington State Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic & Prevention Network (WA FAS DPN). Now in its 17th year of operation, the WA FAS DPN is a statewide network of diagnostic clinics all using the 4-Digit Diagnostic Code and contributing to a centralized electronic database.

Demand for diagnosis remains very high. Of 1,400 patients (newborn to adult) with confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure, 11% were diagnosed with FAS/PFAS, 28% with static encephalopathy, 52% with neurobehavioral disorder, and 9% with no evidence of CNS abnormality. FASD outcomes varied significantly by age, race, gender, alcohol exposure, and presence of other risk factors. Families reported high satisfaction with the diagnostic process, and receipt of information/services they were unable to obtain elsewhere.

This report documents the immense contribution of a statewide FASD diagnostic program, and underscores the extraordinary value of a comprehensive FASD clinical dataset.

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DRUGS AND SOCIETY IN AFRICA Ninth Biennial International Conference

The African Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA) is pleased to announce its Ninth Biennial International Conference on “Drugs and Society in Africa” scheduled to take place in Abuja, Nigeria, in August 2010.

The organizers invite you to this very important
conference that will focus on the role of alcohol and other drug use in the HIV/AIDS epidemics in different African societies.

Interested researchers in various disciplines, policy experts,
practitioners, representatives of NGOs and students are encouraged to submit abstracts of papers for presentation at the conference.

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A well grounded Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol

The World Health Assembly, at its meeting in May, will have before it a Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

The document, adopted by the World Health Organization’s Executive Board in January 2010, outlines important alcohol policy options relating to availability, regulation of marketing, pricing and drink driving measures.

The global strategy is a guide to understanding the problems of alcohol-related harm and a toolkit for addressing such problems at global, national and local level. It recognizes that alcohol-related harm is a public health problem not only affecting the drinker but includes harm to others.

As a consequence its suggested strategies address alcohol consumption and drinking patterns at both population and individual level. . . . . . .

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State Estimates of Underage Alcohol Use and Self-Purchase of Alcohol

● Combined 2006 to 2008 data indicate that 27.6 percent of persons aged 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month

● Rates of underage past month alcohol use were among the lowest in Utah (13.7 percent) and among the highest in North Dakota (40.6 percent) and Vermont (40.4 percent)

● Approximately 8.6 percent of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank

● The percentages of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 who bought their own alcohol were among the lowest in Alaska (3.1 percent) and New Mexico (3.7 percent) and among the highest in Louisiana and the District of Columbia (both at 18.8 percent)

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News Release - Diet Quality Worsens as Alcohol Intake Increases

People who drink more are also likely to eat less fruit and consume more calories from a combination of alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study of more than 15,000 adults in the United States found that increased alcoholic beverage consumption was associated with decreased diet quality. The article is in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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Adoption of practice guidelines and assessment tools in substance abuse treatment

The gap between research and practice limits utilization of relevant, progressive and empirically validated strategies in substance abuse treatment.

In 1997, managed care involvement and provision of primary care services had the strongest association with increased use of assessment tools, which, along with provision of counseling services, were associated with a greater use of practice guidelines.

In 2001, managed care involvement, counseling services and being a stand-alone drug treatment agency were associated with a greater use of assessment tools, which was in turn related to an increase in the use of practice guidelines.

This study provides managers, clinicians and policy-makers with a framework for understanding factors related to the adoption of new technologies in substance abuse treatment.

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Why is Disulfiram Superior to Acamprosate in the Routine Clinical Setting? A Retrospective Long-Term Study in 353 Alcohol-Dependent Patients

To compare the long-term effectiveness of acamprosate (ACP) and disulfiram (DSF) in the treatment of alcohol dependence and their effectiveness in regard to patient characteristics, within a naturalistic outpatient treatment setting.

Baseline data in terms of current addictive behaviour and course of disease differed between groups to the disadvantage of the DSF group; compared to the ACP group, subjects treated with DSF showed a longer duration of alcohol dependence, higher amounts of daily alcohol consumption and more alcohol detoxification treatments in their history.

In follow-up, Kaplan–Meier survival analysis revealed significant differences between groups in the primary and secondary measures of outcome (P always Time elapsed before the first alcohol relapse as well as attendance to outpatient treatment and cumulative alcohol abstinence achieved within outpatient treatment was explicitly longer in the DSF group. A longer duration of alcohol dependence predicted a favourable treatment outcome in the DSF group, while for the ACP group the chances for a successful treatment increased with shorter duration of alcohol dependence.

This study supports the thesis that supervised DSF is an important component of alcoholism treatment, and it appears to be more effective than the treatment with ACP particularly in patients with a long duration of alcohol dependence.

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Patterns of Alcohol Consumption in the Thai Population: Results of the National Household Survey of 2007

The National Household Survey for Substance and Alcohol Use is a periodic survey of the Thai population with the aim of estimating the number of people who use licit and illicit substances. This paper reports the findings regarding alcohol consumption from the 2007 survey.

Of Thais aged 12–65 years, 63% were abstainers (men—40.9% and women—81.5%). The prevalence of current drinkers (defined as individuals who drank at least 10 g of alcohol in 12 months before the survey) was 28.6% (men—48.4% and women—12.7%). Based on the AUDIT score, 6.7% of the Thai population could be classified as hazardous drinkers, 0.9% as harmful drinkers and 0.6% as probable alcohol dependents. The median drinking intensity was 50.8 g in men and 25.4 g in women. After adjusting for other variables, predictors of being hazardous–harmful or probably dependent drinkers included male gender, age groups of 20–24 and 25–44 years, not married and living in Bangkok.

The present study highlights the gender and age differences in drinking patterns and drinking consequences in Thailand. These issues should be taken into consideration when planning preventive measures to reduce alcohol consumption and related problems.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Alcoholic Beverage Consumption, Nutrient Intakes, and Diet Quality in the US Adult Population, 1999-2006

Little is known about associations between alcoholic beverage consumption, nutrient intakes, and diet quality, although each has been independently associated with chronic disease outcomes.

This study examines cross-sectional relationships between alcoholic beverage consumption, nutrient intakes, and diet quality (Healthy Eating Index-2005 [HEI-2005] scores) in the US adult population.

Among men, there was no association between drinking status and intakes of energy, most nutrients, or total HEI-2005 score. Among women, former and current (compared to never) drinkers had significantly higher intakes of energy and several nutrients, and current drinkers had significantly lower total HEI-2005 scores (current drinkers 58.9; never drinkers 63.2).

Among current drinkers of both sexes, as drinking level increased, intakes of energy and several nutrients significantly increased, whereas total HEI-2005 scores significantly decreased (from 55.9 to 41.5 in men, and from 59.5 to 51.8 in women).

Among men and women, increasing alcoholic beverage consumption was associated with a decline in total diet quality as measured by the HEI-2005, apparently due to higher energy intake from alcohol as well as other differences in food choices.

Educational messages should focus on nutrition and chronic disease risk associated with high consumption of alcoholic beverages and poor food choices, including excessive energy intake.

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Do 'good values' lead to 'good' health-behaviours? Longitudinal associations between young people's values and later substance-use

Past studies have linked certain values (traditional vs. individualistic) with adolescent substance-use. The aims of this study are to replicate cross-sectional research linking values and adolescent substance-use and to determine if such values predict future substance-use.

Cross-sectionally, young people with anti-authority values were more likely to use various substances, e.g. 17-67% more likely to regularly smoke (daily), drink (most days), or use drugs (weekly) for each SD above typical levels. Adjusting for social background, associations were not substantially attenuated.

However in the prospective analysis, adjusting for both background and substance-use at age 15, only two (anti-authoritarian and work ethic) values were (marginally) associated with substance-use at age 18/19.

While we replicated results found in prior cross-sectional studies, evidence from this study does not support the argument that holding certain 'pro-social' or 'good' values substantively protects against later substance-use and challenges the likely effectiveness of values-based interventions in relation to later substance-use.

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Alcohol and Acetaldehyde in Public Health: From Marvel to Menace

Alcohol abuse is a serious medical and social problem. Although light to moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to cardiovascular health, heavy drinking often results in organ damage and social problems.

In addition, genetic susceptibility to the effect of alcohol on cancer and coronary heart disease differs across the population.

A number of mechanisms including direct the toxicity of ethanol, its metabolites [e.g., acetaldehyde and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs)] and oxidative stress may mediate alcoholic complications.

Acetaldehyde, the primary metabolic product of ethanol, is an important candidate toxin in developing alcoholic diseases.

Meanwhile, free radicals produced during ethanol metabolism and FAEEs are also important triggers for alcoholic damages.

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"Handles to Hang on to Our Sobriety"

Commonplace books—collections of edifying prose and poetry—have been recognized as an important tool of self-fashioning from the early modern period onward.

This article examines the practice
of commonplace making by men in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, where the form becomes a unique expression of the "surrendered masculinity" on which recovery from addiction hinges.

The author argues that the embrace of this nontraditional gender
identity by the predominately White male population of AA suggests that the category of hegemonic masculinity may be destabilized by men’s spiritual investments.

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Long-term suppression of forebrain neurogenesis and loss of neuronal progenitor cells following prolonged alcohol dependence in rats

Alcohol dependence leads to persistent neuroadaptations, potentially related to structural plasticity.

Previous work has shown that hippocampal neurogenesis is modulated by alcohol, but effects of chronic alcohol on neurogenesis in the forebrain subventricular zone (SVZ) have not been reported. Effects in this region may be relevant for the impairments in olfactory discrimination present in alcoholism.

Here, we examined the effects of prolonged alcohol dependence on neurogenesis. Rats were sacrificed directly after 7 wk of intermittent alcohol vapour exposure, or 3, 7 or 21 d into abstinence. Proliferation was assessed using BrdU and Ki67 immunoreactivity, newly differentiated neurons (neurogenesis) as doublecortin-immunoreactivity (DCX-IR), and neural stem cells using the SOX2 marker.

In the dentate gyrus, chronic dependence resulted in a pattern similar to that previously reported for acute alcohol exposure: proliferation and neurogenesis were suppressed by the end of exposure, rebounded on day 3 of abstinence, and returned to control levels by days 7 and 21. In the SVZ, proliferation was also suppressed at the end of alcohol exposure, followed by a proliferation burst 3 d into abstinence.

However, in this area, there was a trend for reduced proliferation on days 7 and 21 of abstinence, and this was accompanied by significant suppression of DCX-IR, indicating a long-term suppression of forebrain neurogenesis.

Finally, a decrease in the SOX2 stem cell marker was detected at days 7 and 21, suggesting long-term reduction of the SVZ stem cell pool.

While suppression of hippocampal neurogenesis by alcohol dependence is transient, the suppression in the forebrain SVZ appears long-lasting.

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The effect of alcohol on radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis

Alcohol consumption reduces the risk of development of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and significantly attenuates the development of erosive arthritis in animal models. It remains unknown whether alcohol consumption influences joint damage progression in RA.

To compare the rates of radiographic damage progression in alcohol drinkers (D) and non-drinkers (ND) in a large prospective RA cohort.

2908 RA patients with a mean of 4 sequential radiographs and 3.9 years of follow-up were included.

A trend towards reduced radiographic progression existed in D compared to ND, with ERO of 0.99% (0.89-1.09) and 1.13% (1.00-1.26) at one year respectively.

Alcohol consumption displayed a J-shaped dose response effect, with a more favorable evolution in occasional consumers (p=0.01) and daily consumers (p=0.001), compared to non-drinkers, while heavy-drinkers demonstrated worse radiographic evolution (p=0.0001).

We found significant effect modification by sex, with male D displaying significantly less ERO compared to male ND (0.86% (0.70-1.03) versus 1.35% (1.02-1.67), p=0.007).

A trend towards reduced radiographic progression was observed in alcohol drinkers compared to non-drinkers, specifically in occasional and daily alcohol consumers, and in particular, male RA patients who consume alcohol demonstrate less radiographic progression than male non-drinkers.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking and esophageal cancer risk in Taiwanese women

To investigate the etiology of esophageal cancer among Taiwanese women.

Frequencies of smokers and drinkers among ESCC patients were 19.6% and 21.6%, respectively, which were significantly higher than smokers (4.4%) and drinkers (4.4%) among controls (OR = 4.07, 95% CI: 1.36-12.16, P = 0.01; OR = 3.55, 95% CI: 1.03-12.27, P = 0.04).

Women who drank an amount of alcohol more than 158 g per week had a 20.58-fold greater risk (95% CI: 1.72-245.62, P = 0.02) of ESCC than those who never drank alcohol after adjusting for other covariates, although the sample size was small.

Cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking, especially heavy drinking, are the major risks for developing ESCC in Taiwanese women.

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Nothing can make nation drink less, say quarter of Russians

One in four Russians say no measures taken to fight alcohol abuse will be effective against the national vice and commonest stereotype about Russia.

A survey carried out by the recruitment portal showed 24% of Russian citizens believe the introduction of anti-alcohol measures in the country would not improve the situation, which President Dmitry Medvedev said was tantamount to a national security threat.

Russia's chief sanitary doctor recently proposed a ban on sales of all alcoholic beverages after 9 p.m. and raising the legal age for drinking alcohol from current 18 to 21.

A quarter of Russians said restrictions on the sales of alcohol would simply increase the number of people who obtain vodka through illegal means or get their alcohol from substances not intended for human consumption. As a result, the nation's health may come under even greater threat.

Alcohol consumption in Russia is more than double the critical level set by the World Health Organization, a WHO report said last fall. . . . .

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Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Health: Current Evidence

Current Issue: January–February 2010

Interventions and Assessments

  • “Substance Abuser” versus “Having a Substance Use Disorder”: Our Words May Matter
  • A Stepped-Care Approach to Unhealthy Alcohol Use in Primary Care
  • Internet-based Intervention Reduces Alcohol Use
  • Brief Intervention in the Emergency Department Shows Promise for Reducing Marijuana Use in Young Adults
  • Sustained-Release Dexamphetamine Maintenance for Methamphetamine Dependence
  • Emergency-Department Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment Is Associated with Reduced Health-Care Costs
  • The Greater the Score, the Greater the Risk? Alcohol Screening Scores and the Probability of Alcohol Dependence
  • Web-based Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Reduces Drinking among College Students
  • Transcutaneous Electric Acupoint Stimulation (TEAS) for Opioid Detoxification
  • Home Visits: A Cost-effective Option for the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence

Health Outcomes

  • High-Risk Drinking Is Associated with Lower Self-Rated Physical and Mental Health among Older Americans
  • Abstinence Is More Common among Patients Who Use Heroin or Crack Cocaine Alone Compared with Those Who Use Both
  • Is Sleep-Disordered Breathing a Major Cause of Sleep Disturbances in Methadone-Maintained Patients?
  • Does Heavy Drinking Increase the Risk of Lung Cancer among Smokers?
  • Alcohol, Stroke, and Functional Outcomes after Stroke

Slide Presentations

  • Update on Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Health
  • Journal Club
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Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the January-September 2009 National Health Interview Survey

In this release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) updates estimates for 15 selected health measures based on data from the January-September 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and presents estimates from 1997 through 2008 for comparison.

The 15 Early Release measures are being published prior to final data editing and final weighting, to provide access to the most recent information from NHIS. The estimates will be updated as each new quarter of NHIS data becomes available.

9. Alcohol consumption

  • Figure 9.1. Percentage of adults aged 18 years and over who had five or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year: United States, 1997-September 2009
  • Figure 9.2. Percentage of adults aged 18 years and over who had five or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year, by age group and sex: United States, January-September 2009
  • Figure 9.3. Age-sex-adjusted percentage of adults aged 18 years and over who had five or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year, by race/ethnicity: United States, January-September 2009
  • Data tables for Figures 9.1-9.3
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In-Utero Exposure to Smoking, Alcohol, Coffee, and Tea and Risk of Strabismus

In a prospective, population-based cohort study, the authors investigated the effect of in-utero exposure to maternal smoking and consumption of alcohol, coffee, and tea on the risk of strabismus.

They reviewed medical records for children in the Danish National
Birth Cohort identified through national registers as possibly having strabismus. Relative risk estimates were adjusted for year of birth, social class, maternal smoking, maternal age at birth, and maternal coffee and tea consumption.

The authors
identified 1,321 cases of strabismus in a cohort of 96,842 Danish children born between 1996 and 2003.

Maternal smoking was associated
with a significantly elevated risk of strabismus in the child, increasing with number of cigarettes smoked per day (> relative risk (RR) = 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.80, 1.14; 5–> 1.70; ≥10 cigarettes/day: RR = 1.90, 95% CI: 1.57, 2.30). Nicotine replacement therapy was not associated with strabismus risk (RR = 1.22, 95% CI: 0.92, 1.61).

Light maternal alcohol consumption
was inversely associated with strabismus risk, whereas maternal coffee and tea drinking were not associated with strabismus risk.

In conclusion, smoking during pregnancy is associated
with an increased risk of strabismus in the offspring. Conversely, light alcohol consumption is associated with decreased risk.

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Studies of Alcohol Dependence (AD) have consistently found evidence of linkage on chromosome 4q21-q32. A genome-wide linkage scan in the Irish Affected Sib Pair Study of Alcohol Dependence (IASPSAD) sample also provided its strongest evidence of linkage on chromosome 4q22-q32 using an index of alcohol dependence severity based on the count of DSM-IV alcohol dependence symptoms (ADSX; LOD=4.59).

We conducted a systematic, gene-centric association study using
518 LD-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 65 known and predicted genes within the 1-LOD interval surrounding the linkage peak. Case-only regression analysis with the quantitative variable of ADSX was performed in the 562 genetically independent cases; nominal support for association was demonstrated by 32 tSNPs in 14 genes.

We did not observe study-wide significance,
but gene-wise correction for multiple testing with the Nyholt procedure yielded empirical evidence of association with two genes, DKK2 (dickkopf homolog 2) (P=0.007) and EGF (epidermal growth factor) (P=0.025) in the IASPSAD sample. 3 SNPs in DKK2 (rs427983; rs419558; rs399087) demonstrated empirical significance.

Assessment of possible replication in 847 cases of European descent from a large independent sample, the Collaborative Study of the Genetics of Alcoholism, yielded replication for DKK2 but not EGF.

We observed genotypic and phenotypic replication
for DKK2 with the 3 SNPs yielding significant association with ADSX in the IASPSAD sample. Haplotype-specific expression measurements in post-mortem tissue samples suggested a functional role for DKK2.

This evidence notwithstanding, replication is needed before
confidence can be placed in these findings.

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The plausibility of maternal nutritional status being a contributing factor to the risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: The potential influence

There is increasing evidence that human pregnancy outcome can be significantly compromised by suboptimal maternal nutritional status. Poor diet results in a maternal-fetal environment in which the teratogenicity of other insults such as alcohol might be amplified. As an example, there is evidence that zinc (Zn) can interact with maternal alcohol exposure to influence the risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Studies with experimental animals have shown that the teratogenicity of alcohol is increased under conditions of Zn deficiency, whereas its teratogenicity is lessened when animals are given Zn-supplemented diets or Zn injections before the alcohol exposure.

Alcohol can precipitate an acute-phase response, resulting in a subsequent increase in maternal liver metallothionein, which can sequester Zn and lead to decreased Zn transfer to the fetus. Importantly, the teratogenicity of acute alcohol exposure is reduced in metallothionein knockout mice, which can have improved Zn transfer to the conceptus relative to wild-type mice. Consistent with the above, Zn status has been reported to be low in alcoholic women at delivery.

Preliminary data from two basic science and clinical nutritional studies that are ongoing as part of the international Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders support the potential role of Zn, among other nutritional factors, relative to risk for FASD.

Importantly, the nutrient levels being examined in these studies are relevant to general clinical populations and represent suboptimal levels rather than severe deficiencies.

These data suggest that moderate deficiencies in single nutrients can act as permissive factors for FASD, and that adequate nutritional status or intervention through supplementation may provide protection from some of the adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure.

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Alcohol, culture and motherhood, Maynooth (Ireland)

24/08/2010 8:00 am 27/08/2010 5:00 pm

For centuries we have been confronted with "crisis" notions of maternal consumption throughout Europe. Recent treatments of alcohol and health have reiterated these feminized concerns. Without engaging in "problem deflation" we will interrogate how crises are imagined and sustained.

Location: Maynooth (Ireland). Date: 24– 27 August 2010

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Significant Reductions in Drinking Following Brief Alcohol Treatment Provided in a Hepatitis C Clinic

Although the hepatitis C virus (HCV) alone increases the risk of cirrhosis, alcohol use is thought to act synergistically with HCV to significantly hasten the development of fibrosis.

The authors assessed the impact of brief medical counseling or integrated-care approaches to lessen or eliminate alcohol use in these vulnerable patients.

This retrospective study describes the effect of brief alcohol treatment delivered in a hepatitis clinic on drinking outcomes and antiviral treatment eligibility: 47 heavy-drinking chronic hepatitis C patients received a brief intervention performed by medical clinicians, with follow-up by a psychiatric nurse-specialist.

At the last follow-up, 62% of patients reported >50% drinking reduction; these included 36% who achieved abstinence. Only 6% of patients were excluded from antiviral therapy.

Brief treatment addressing heavy drinking delivered by hepatitis clinicians with psychiatric-specialist follow-up was associated with abstinence or a significant reduction in alcohol consumption in over 50% of patients.

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DNATwist: A Web-Based Tool for Teaching Middle and High School Students About Pharmacogenomics.

DNATwist is a Web-based learning tool (available at that explains pharmacogenomics concepts to middle- and high-school students.

Its features include (i) a focus on drug responses of interest to teenagers (e.g., alcohol intolerance), (ii) reusable graphical interfaces that reduce extension costs, and (iii) explanations of molecular and cellular drug responses.

In testing, students found the tool and topic understandable and engaging. The tool is being modified for use at the Tech Museum of Innovation in California.

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Alcohol still top drug for teens

Increased numbers of teenagers sought treatment for addiction to alcohol over the past year, the SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) has told MPs.

Sanca's Carol du Toit told the National Assembly's social development committee that contrary to popular opinion, alcohol abuse - rather than hard drugs - presented her organisation with its biggest challenge. . . . . . .

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Estimated effect of alcohol pricing policies on health and health economic outcomes in England: an epidemiological model

Although pricing policies for alcohol are known to be effective, little is known about how specific interventions affect health-care costs and health-related quality-of-life outcomes for different types of drinkers.

We assessed effects of alcohol pricing and promotion policy options in various population subgroups.

General price increases were effective for reduction of consumption, health-care costs, and health-related quality of life losses in all population subgroups. Minimum pricing policies can maintain this level of effectiveness for harmful drinkers while reducing effects on consumer spending for moderate drinkers. Total bans of supermarket and off-license discounting are effective but banning only large discounts has little effect. Young adult drinkers aged 18—24 years are especially affected by policies that raise prices in pubs and bars.

Minimum pricing policies and discounting restrictions might warrant further consideration because both strategies are estimated to reduce alcohol consumption, and related health harms and costs, with drinker spending increases targeting those who incur most harm.

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3rd Open Forum on Alcohol and Health. 22 April, Brussels

Within the framework of the European Alcohol and Health Forum a 3rd Open Forum will be held in Brussels (Charlemagne Building of the European Commission) on 22 April 2010 from 10h00 till 17h00.

The Open Forum is an opportunity for an exchange of information and for discussion with a broader range of interested parties, including Member States. It also provides networking possibilities between and among the different stakeholders who wish to contribute to the reduction of alcohol-related harm.

This year's Open Forum provides a particular opportunity to present the European Alcohol and Health Forum's work and actions, and to provide an update of policy developments at EU, Member State and international level. Topics for debate at the Open Forum will be the Social Cost of Alcohol, Information to Consumers and Responsible Selling and Serving. There will be an exhibition with stands with materials relating to the work of the Members of the European Alcohol and Health Forum.

A draft programme can be found here and this will be further updated closer to the Forum.

If you wish to participate you can register on line at


The Social Cost of Alcohol: Passive drinking

Over 120 people attended the Lunch Seminar organised by Eurocare in the European Parliament to discuss the harm to others as "The Cost of Alcohol: Passive drinking" on Tuesday 2nd February 2010.

The seminar was hosted by MEP Anna Hedh from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and 30 MEPs were present or represented at the event.

Click here to read the seminar's report


Welcome by MEP Anna Hedh (Audio) and Michel Craplet (chairman of Eurocare) (Audio)

“Passive drinking” the collateral damage from alcohol by Hans Olav Fekjær (Actis) (PowerPoint) (Audio)

EU action to reduce alcohol related harm by Ceri Thompson (DG SANCO- EU Commission) (PowerPoint) (Audio)

Alcohol and Interpersonal Violence - Domestic violence: Xavier Ferrer (Fundación Salud y Comunidad) (PowerPoint) (Audio)

Alcohol and traffic accidents - Antonio Avenoso (ETSC: European Transport Safety Council) (PowerPoint) (Audio)

Children living in families with alcohol problems: the invisible victims - Mira Roine (ENCARE: European Network for Children for Children affected by Risky Environments within the family) (PowerPoint) (Audio)

Harm to the unborn child - Dr Rudi Kohl (FAS Policlinic. The Netherlands) (PowerPoint) (Audio)

Closing remarks by Cliona Murphy (Alcohol Action Ireland - Eurocare) (Audio)


Rapid and mobile determination of alcoholic strength in wine, beer and spirits using a flow-through infrared sensor

Ever since Gay-Lussac's time, the alcoholic strength by volume (% vol) has been determined by using densimetric measurements. The typical reference procedure involves distillation followed by pycnometry, which is comparably labour-intensive and therefore expensive. At present, infrared (IR) spectroscopy in combination with multivariate regression is widely applied as a screening procedure, which allows one to determine alcoholic strength in less than 2 min without any sample preparation. The disadvantage is the relatively large investment for Fourier transform (FT) IR or near-IR instruments, and the need for matrix-dependent calibration.

In this study, we apply a much simpler device consisting of a patented multiple-beam infrared sensor in combination with a flow-through cell for automated alcohol analysis, which is available in a portable version that allows for on-site measurements.

During method validation, the precision of the infrared sensor was found to be equal to or better than densimetric or FTIR methods. For example, the average repeatability, as determined in 6 different wine samples, was 0.05% vol and the relative standard deviation was below 0.2%. Accuracy was ensured by analyzing 260 different alcoholic beverages in comparison to densimetric or FTIR results.

The correlation was linear over the entire range from alcohol-free beers up to high-proof spirits, and the results were in substantial agreement is much easier to handle than typical reference procedures, while time-consuming sample preparation steps such as distillation are not necessary. Therefore, the alcoholic strength can be economically and quickly controlled (requiring less than 60 s per sample).

The device also gives the opportunity for mobile on-site control in the context of labelling control of wine, beer and spirits, the process monitoring of fermentations, or the evaluation of unrecorded alcohols.

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