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, May 12, 2012

Impairments of Prepulse Inhibition of the Startle Response in Abstinent Alcoholic Male Patients

Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle reflex, which refers to the ability of innocuous sensory events to reduce the startle reflex, has been described as an operational measure of sensorimotor gating that is reduced in several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, but experience is lacking in addictions and alcoholism. The aim of this study was to examine the existence of impairments in the startle response and PPI in abstinent alcoholic men.

Testing for PPI was conducted on 60 abstinent alcoholic men aged 18–65 years (mean 46.37) who met DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence and had been abstinent for more than a month at the time of testing. The comparison group were compared with 37 sex- age- and education-matched controls without alcohol dependence.

Magnitudes of the startle reflex were lower in patients than in controls. The differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05) in trials with prepulses presented 30 and 120 ms before the onset of the startle stimulus. There was also a statistically significant (P < 0.05) reduced percentage of PPI when the prepulse was presented 30 ms before the startle stimulus.

These data suggest that sensory information processing mechanisms could be damaged in abstinent alcoholic patients. The fact that these findings are common to other psychiatric disorders could indicate the existence of a common vulnerability marker and explain the high degree of comorbidity between alcoholism and other mental illnesses.

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N-Latex CDT Results in Liver Diseases

The aim of this study was to test whether liver diseases of alcoholic and non-alcoholic origin cause false-positive carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) results when the particle-enhanced immunonephelometry for CDT assays is used and to assess the effect of liver disease severity on N-Latex CDT results.

Blood was sampled from 245 newly admitted patients suffering from liver diseases: alcoholic and non-alcoholic cirrhosis (AC), chronic viral (B and C) and non-viral hepatitis, toxic and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), hepatocellular carcinoma and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). CDT was determined by particle-enhanced imunononephelometry using the N-Latex CDT test.

There were significant differences in %CDT levels between liver diseases of various etiologies. The %CDT level in AC was higher than that in chronic hepatitis (non-viral and viral C). In turn, the %CDT level in chronic hepatitis C was lower than that in toxic hepatitis. The frequency of false-positive %CDT results in liver diseases of non-alcoholic origin was 13/146, and was highest in AIH (4/14). There were no CDT-positive results in PBC and chronic hepatitis B. The frequency of CDT-positive results in alcoholic liver diseases was 24/59 in cirrhosis and 10/34 in hepatitis. Serum levels of %CDT in cirrhotic patients are correlated with the severity of the disease assessed by the Child-Pugh score.

We concluded that the liver diseases affect the relative but not absolute values of CDT when using the assay with the monoclonal antibodies directed against CDT. The CDT results from N-Latex CDT test reflect the severity of liver dysfunction.

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Impaired Generalization of Associative Learning in Patients with Alcohol Dependence After Intermediate-term Abstinence

We used an associative learning task in order to investigate cognitive dysfunctions in alcohol dependence. This test is suitable for the assessment of stimulus–response learning and memory generalization (acquired equivalence), which is related to medial temporal lobe functioning.

Twenty patients with alcohol dependence (abstinence: >6 months) and 20 matched healthy controls participated in the study. In the task, antecedent stimuli were cartoon faces (girl, boy, man and woman) and consequent stimuli were color cartoon fishes. The task was to learn face–fish associations using feedback. In the transfer phase, the fish–face pairs were generalized to new associations.

There was no significant difference between patients and controls during the acquisition phase of fish–face associations. In the transfer phase, patients were impaired relative to controls. We found no association between task performance and intelligence quotient.

These results suggest that abstinent patients with alcohol dependence show marked dysfunctions in the generalization of associations, which may indicate the dysfunction of the medial temporal lobe.

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DRD2 C957T and TaqIA Genotyping Reveals Gender Effects and Unique Low-Risk and High-Risk Genotypes in Alcohol Dependence

As recent conflicting reports describe a genetic association between both the C- and the T-alleles of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) C957T polymorphism (rs6277) in alcohol-dependent subjects, our aim was to examine this polymorphism and TaqIA (rs1800497) in Australian alcohol-dependent subjects.

The C957T polymorphism was genotyped in 228 patients with alcohol dependence (72 females and 156 males) and 228 healthy controls.

The C-allele and C/C genotype of C957T was associated with alcohol dependence, whereas the TaqIA polymorphism was not. When analysed separately for C957T, males showed an even stronger association with the C-allele and females showed no association. The C957T and TaqIA haplotyping revealed a strong association with alcohol dependence and a double-genotype analysis (combining C957T and TaqIA genotypes) revealed that the relative risk of different genotypes varied by up to 27-fold with the TT/A1A2 having an 8.5-fold lower risk of alcohol dependence than other genotypes.

Decreased DRD2 binding associated with the C-allele of the DRD2 C957T polymorphism is likely to be important in the underlying pathophysiology of at least some forms of alcohol dependence, and this effect appears to be limited to males only.

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Impact of Altered Methylation in Cytokine Signaling and Proteasome Function in Alcohol and Viral-Mediated Diseases

Data from several laboratories have shown that ethanol (EtOH) feeding impairs many essential methylation reactions that contribute to alcoholic liver disease (ALD). EtOH is also a comorbid factor in the severity of hepatitis C virus–induced liver injury. The presence of viral proteins further exacerbates the methylation defects to disrupt multiple pathways that promote the pathogenesis of liver disease.

This review is a compilation of presentations that linked the methylation reaction defects with proteasome inhibition, decreased antigen presentation, and impaired interferon (IFN) signaling in the hepatocytes and dysregulated TNFα expression in macrophages.

Two therapeutic modalities, betaine and S-adenosylmethionine, can correct methylation defects to attenuate many EtOH-induced liver changes, as well as improve IFN signaling pathways, thereby overcoming viral treatment resistance.

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How Acute and Chronic Alcohol Consumption Affects Brain Networks: Insights into Multimodal Neuroimaging

Multimodal imaging combining 2 or more techniques is becoming increasingly important because no single imaging approach has the capacity to elucidate all clinically relevant characteristics of a network.

This review highlights recent advances in multimodal neuroimaging (i.e., combined use and interpretation of data collected through magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, positron emission tomography, magnetoencephalography, MR perfusion, and MR spectroscopy methods) that leads to a more comprehensive understanding of how acute and chronic alcohol consumption affect neural networks underlying cognition, emotion, reward processing, and drinking behavior.

Several innovative investigators have started utilizing multiple imaging approaches within the same individual to better understand how alcohol influences brain systems, both during intoxication and after years of chronic heavy use.

Their findings can help identify mechanism-based therapeutic and pharmacological treatment options, and they may increase the efficacy and cost effectiveness of such treatments by predicting those at greatest risk for relapse.

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Association Between In Vivo Alcohol Metabolism and Genetic Variation in Pathways that Metabolize the Carbon Skeleton of Ethanol and NADH Reoxidation i

Variation in alcohol metabolism affects the duration of intoxication and alcohol use. While the majority of genetic association studies investigating variation in alcohol metabolism have focused on polymorphisms in alcohol or aldehyde dehydrogenases, we have now tested for association with genes in alternative metabolic pathways that catalyze the carbon skeleton of ethanol (EtOH) and NADH reoxidation.

Nine hundred fifty single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning 14 genes (ACN9,ACSS1,ACSS2,ALDH1A1, CAT, CYP2E1,GOT1,GOT2,MDH1,MDH2,SLC25A10,SLC25A11,SLC25A12,SLC25A13) were genotyped in 352 young adults who participated in an alcohol challenge study. Traits tested were blood alcohol concentration (BAC), breath alcohol concentration (BrAC), peak alcohol concentration, and rates of alcohol absorption and elimination. Allelic association was tested using quantitative univariate and multivariate methods.

A CYP2E1 promoter SNP (rs4838767, minor allele frequency 0.008) exceeded the threshold for study-wide significance (4.01 × 10−5) for 2 early BAC, 8 BrAC measures, and the peak BrAC. For each phenotype, the minor C allele was related to a lower alcohol concentration, most strongly for the fourth BrAC (p = 2.07 × 10−7) explaining ~8% of the phenotypic variance. We also observed suggestive patterns of association with variants in ALDH1A1 and on chromosome 17 near SLC25A11 for aspects of blood and breath alcohol metabolism. An SNP upstream of GOT1 (rs2490286) reached study-wide significance for multivariate BAC metabolism (p = 0.000040).

Overall, we did not find strong evidence that variation in genes coding for proteins that further metabolize the carbon backbone of acetaldehyde, or contribute to mechanisms for regenerating NAD from NADH, affects alcohol metabolism in our European-descent subjects. However, based on the breath alcohol data, variation in the promoter of CYP2E1 may play a role in preabsorptive or early hepatic alcohol metabolism, but more samples are required to validate this finding.

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Alcohol Use and STI among men in India: Evidences from a national household survey

Alcohol use has been found to correlate with risky sexual behavior as well as with sexually transmitted infections (STI) among populations with high-risk behavior in India.

To examine the correlates of alcohol use and its association with STI among adult men in India.

Data from a national representative large-scale household sample survey in the country were used. It included information on sociodemographic characteristics and alcohol use as a part of substance use. Clinical as well laboratory testing was done to ascertain the STI.

The overall STI prevalence among adult males was found to be 2.5% (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.9-3.1). Over 26% adult men were found to have been using alcohol in the study population. It was higher among men who were illiterate and unskilled industrial workers/drivers. The men who consumed alcohol had higher prevalence of STI (3.6%; 95% CI: 2.9-5.1) than those who did not consume alcohol (2.1%; 95% CI: 1.5-2.6). The degree of association between alcoholism and STI was slightly reduced after adjusting for various sociodemographic characteristics (adjusted odds ratio: 1.5; 95% CI: 0.9-2.3; P=0.06).

The findings of present study suggest integrating alcohol risk reduction into STI/HIV prevention programmes.

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Characteristics of Alcoholic Smokers, Nonsmokers, and Former Smokers: Personality, Negative Affect, Alcohol Involvement, and Treatment Participation

Previous research has indicated that smoking behavior in the general population is linked to personality traits such as behavioral undercontrol and negative emotionality, but it is unknown whether these traits pertain to alcoholic smokers. Further, prior research has not established whether alcoholic smokers differ from their nonsmoking counterparts in terms of alcohol involvement severity and treatment participation. Exploration of these associations is important, given the high prevalence of cigarette smoking among alcoholics.

Treatment-seeking alcoholics were categorized into daily cigarette smokers (n = 76), nonsmokers (n = 34), and former smokers (n = 33). These groups were compared on personality traits, negative affect, alcohol involvement, and alcohol outpatient treatment participation.

All three groups scored similarly on a variety of personality traits (e.g., extraversion and neuroticism), and on most aspects of negative affect, with the exception of anxiety (smokers scored higher than nonsmokers and former smokers). In terms of alcohol involvement, alcoholic smokers reported greater negative drinking consequences and alcohol physical dependence relative to former smokers, even considering that alcoholic smokers had relatively more abstinent days. Finally, alcoholic smokers attended considerably fewer alcohol outpatient treatment sessions relative to both nonsmokers and former smokers.

Common risk factors for both alcoholism and smoking behavior, such as personality traits and negative affect, may obscure personality differences between smokers and nonsmokers in an alcohol treatment sample. Furthermore, findings suggest that current nicotine use among alcoholics is associated with greater anxiety and severity of alcoholism than among their former-smoking counterparts.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Prospective memory and future event simulation in individuals with alcohol dependence

To objectively assess prospective memory (PM) performance of individuals with alcohol dependence and determine whether the use of an imagery technique at the point of encoding can enhance their performance.

An independent group design was used to compare individuals with alcohol dependence with social drinkers.

One UK residential substance misuse service.

24 abstinent ‘individuals with alcohol dependence’ and 24 social drinkers matched on age, gender and years of education

The Virtual Week (VW); Story Recall; a Category Fluency task; Trail Making Test (TMT); a Single Digit Cancellation Task (SDCT); Spot the Word; State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI); Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II); The Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire (SAD-Q)

Event based PM task performance of individuals with alcohol dependence was strongly associated with indices of alcohol usage (p < 0.001), and was significantly impaired compared to that of social drinkers (p < 0.001). Imagining improved social drinkers’ time based PM but not that of individuals with alcohol dependence.

Individuals with alcohol dependence may experience prospective memory deficits which may be due to difficulties with effective strategy application

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Functional neuroimaging studies of alcohol cue reactivity: a quantitative meta-analysis and systematic review

A comprehensive understanding of the neurobiology of alcohol cue reactivity is critical in identifying the neuropathology of alcohol use disorders (AUD) and developing treatments that may attenuate alcohol craving and reduce relapse risk. Functional neuroimaging studies have identified many brain areas in which alcohol cues elicit activation. However, extant studies have included relatively small numbers of cases, with AUD of varying severity, and have employed many different cue paradigms.

We used activation likelihood estimation, a quantitative, coordinate-based meta-analytic method, to analyze the brain areas activated by alcohol-related cues across studies, and to examine whether these areas were differentially activated between cases and controls. Secondarily, we reviewed correlations between behavioral measures and cue-elicited activation, as well as treatment effects on such activation. Data analyzed were from 28 studies of 679 cases and 174 controls.

Among cases, alcohol cues elicited robust activation of limbic and prefrontal regions, including ventral striatum, anterior cingulate and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. As compared to controls, cases demonstrated greater activation of parietal and temporal regions, including posterior cingulate, precuneus and superior temporal gyrus.

Cue-elicited activation of ventral striatum was most frequently correlated with behavioral measures and most frequently reduced by treatment, but these results were often derived from region-of-interest analyses that interrogated only limbic regions.

These findings support long-standing theories of mesolimbic involvement in alcohol cue processing, but suggest that cue-elicited activation of other brain areas may more clearly differentiate cases from controls.

Prevention and treatment for AUD should consider interventions that may reduce cue-elicited activation of these areas.

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Episodic heavy drinking, problem drinking and injuries – Results of the WHO/NIAAA collaborative emergency room study in South Korea

Alcohol is the 5th leading risk factor to the global disease burden and disability and about half of the global alcohol burden was attributable to injuries. Despite a large body of evidence documenting the associations between alcohol and injuries, data from Asian countries including South Korea are sparse. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between episodic heavy past-year drinking, problem drinking symptomatic of alcohol dependence and alcohol-related and intentional injuries.

Data from 1989 injured patients recruited for the WHO/NIAAA Collaborative Study on Alcohol and Injury in South Korea were analyzed with respect to the prevalence rates and associations between injuries and frequency of past-year episodic heavy drinking and problem drinking. In estimating the odds ratios (ORs) and the associated 95% confidence intervals between alcohol intake and injuries multivariable logistic models were employed to adjust for sociodemographic characteristics and selected drinking variables. All analyses were conducted using the SAS 9.2 software.

Findings of this study were consistent with prior studies that the risk of alcohol-related or intentional injury was positively associated with the frequency of episodic heavy drinking. The magnitudes of the associations were larger with frequent consumption of 5+ drinks (OR = 4.0 approximately) than with frequent consumption of 12+ drinks (OR = 3.1).

Strong associations were also noted between RAPS4-assessed alcohol dependence and alcohol-related and intentional injuries. Further, the prevalence of intentional injury and its association with alcohol increased sharply once the acute alcohol intake exceeded 90 ml.

Our results were consistent with prior studies that episodic heavy consumption, acute intoxication and problem drinking are pervasive among emergency room patients.

Results of our study also lent support for administering a single-item screener querying consumption of 5+ drinks at a sitting in the past 12 months as a triage tool in Korea.

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Alcohol consumption and social inequality at the individual and country levels—results from an international study

International comparisons of social inequalities in alcohol use have not been extensively investigated. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of country-level characteristics and individual socio-economic status (SES) on individual alcohol consumption in 33 countries.

Data on 101 525 men and women collected by cross-sectional surveys in 33 countries of the GENACIS study were used. Individual SES was measured by highest attained educational level. Alcohol use measures included drinking status and monthly risky single occasion drinking (RSOD). The relationship between individuals’ education and drinking indicators was examined by meta-analysis. In a second step the individual level data and country data were combined and tested in multilevel models. As country level indicators we used the Purchasing Power Parity of the gross national income, the Gini coefficient and the Gender Gap Index.

For both genders and all countries higher individual SES was positively associated with drinking status. Also higher country level SES was associated with higher proportions of drinkers. Lower SES was associated with RSOD among men. Women of higher SES in low income countries were more often RSO drinkers than women of lower SES. The opposite was true in higher income countries.

For the most part, findings regarding SES and drinking in higher income countries were as expected. However, women of higher SES in low and middle income countries appear at higher risk of engaging in RSOD. This finding should be kept in mind when developing new policy and prevention initiatives.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Effectiveness of the Brief Alcohol and Screening Intervention for College Students (BASICS) Program With a Mandated Population

This study evaluated the effectiveness of a large-scale intervention designed to reduce alcohol abuse among adjudicated college students.

Participants were college students mandated to attend a Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program and a randomly selected comparison group of high-risk drinkers. Methods: Data were collected from January 2006 through December 2008. A total of 1,390 (67%) students in the intervention group and 508 (61%) students in the comparison group completed baseline and 6-month follow-up surveys.

Male students in the intervention group significantly decreased their drinking at follow-up, whereas those in the comparison group increased their drinking. Women in both the intervention and comparison groups decreased their drinking at 6 months.

When implemented with fidelity, BASICS is a generally effective intervention, especially for male adjudicated college students. The intervention was most effective for moderate- and high-risk drinkers.

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The α6 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit influences ethanol-induced sedation

Alcohol and nicotine are often co-used and data from human and animals studies have demonstrated that common genes underlie responses to these two drugs. Recently, the genes that code for the subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors have been implicated as a common genetic mediator for alcohol and nicotine responses. The mammalian genes that code for the α6 and β3 subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (Chrna6 and Chrnb3, respectively) are located adjacent to each other on human and mouse chromosome 8.

These subunits have gained attention as potential regulators of drug behaviors because of their expression in the striatum where they have been shown to modulate dopamine release. Human genetic studies have shown that variation in these genes is associated with alcohol phenotypes.

In the current experiments, mice lacking the
Chrna6 or Chrnb3 gene were tested for three ethanol behaviors: choice ethanol consumption, ataxia, and sedation.

Wildtype (WT), heterozygous (HET), and knockout (KO) mice of each strain went through a standard 2-bottle choice drinking paradigm, the balance beam, and the Loss of Righting Reflex (LORR) paradigm.

No genotypic effects on any of the 3 behavioral tasks were observed in
Chrnb3 animals. While the Chrna6 gene did not significantly influence ethanol consumption (g/kg) or ataxia, mice lacking the α6 subunit took significantly longer to recover their righting reflex than WT animals.

These data provide evidence that receptors containing this subunit modulate the sedative effects of ethanol.

Further work examining other models of ethanol consumption and behavioral responses to ethanol is needed to fully characterize the role of these receptor subunits in modulating ethanol responses.

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Brief alcohol intervention as pragmatic intervention: Who is voluntarily taking an offered intervention?

Brief alcohol interventions (BAI) have shown the potential to decrease problematic alcohol use among adolescents and young adults.

Most of the BAI studies have been efficacy trials designed to achieve high internal validity but have raised questions regarding the feasibility of large-scale implementation. Providing interventions for those voluntarily wanting them might offer an alternative, and studies using this design would be more similar to effectiveness studies.

The present research compares randomly selected 20-year-old men who took part in a scientific trial (efficacy) with those who voluntarily sought an intervention (effectiveness). Sampling took place during army recruitment procedures that are mandatory for all males in Switzerland. At-risk drinking (20+ drinks per week, or more than one risky drinking occasion of 6+ drinks per month) was determined a posteriori; there was no screening.

There were a higher percentage of at-risk drinkers in the volunteer arm at baseline, but at-risk drinkers did not differ from those in the trial arm on any of the assessed alcohol measures.

This suggests that offering BAI on a large-scale, voluntary basis may reach at-risk drinkers as effectively as do more scientifically oriented trials, without needing to adhere to screening and stringent research procedures.

Nevertheless, BAI was more effective for at-risk drinkers who were invited for trial participation versus those who volunteered. This could be due to behavior that is already consolidated and is difficult to change.

Lacking further modifications, real-world implementations of BAI for young men may be less effective than randomized controlled trials designed to test the efficacy of BAI.

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Postnatal day 7 ethanol treatment causes persistent reductions in adult mouse brain volume and cortical neurons with sex specific effects on neurogene

Ethanol treatment on postnatal day seven (P7) causes robust brain cell death and is a model of late gestational alcohol exposure (Ikonomidou et al., 2000).

To investigate the long-term effects of P7 ethanol treatment on adult brain, mice received either two doses of saline or ethanol on P7 (2.5 g/kg, s.c., 2 h apart) and were assessed as adults (P82) for brain volume (using postmortem MRI) and cellular architecture (using immunohistochemistry).

Adult mice that received P7 ethanol had reduced MRI total brain volume (4%) with multiple brain regions being reduced in both males and females. Immunohistochemistry indicated reduced frontal cortical parvalbumin immunoreactive (PV + IR) interneurons (18–33%) and reduced Cux1+IR layer II pyramidal neurons (15%) in both sexes.

Interestingly, markers of adult hippocampal neurogenesis differed between sexes, with only ethanol treated males showing increased doublecortin and Ki67 expression (52 and 57% respectively) in the dentate gyrus, consistent with increased neurogenesis compared to controls.

These findings suggest that P7 ethanol treatment causes persistent reductions in adult brain volume and frontal cortical neurons in both males and females. Increased adult neurogenesis in males, but not females, is consistent with differential adaptive responses to P7 ethanol toxicity between the sexes.

One day of ethanol exposure, e.g. P7, causes persistent adult brain dysmorphology.

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Anti-hepatitis B core positivity as a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma in alcoholic cirrhosis: A case–control study

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is occasionally developed in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Old age, male gender, lifetime quantity of alcohol, and presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are risk factors for HCC in alcoholic cirrhosis.

In this study, we investigated whether anti-hepatitis B core (HBc) positivity or occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a risk factor for HCC in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.

Between January 2006 and August 2008, a total of 72 cirrhotic male patients with an initial diagnosis of HCC, hospitalized in three major hospitals in the Incheon area, were enrolled as cases. Another 72 cirrhotic male patients without HCC, who matched the cases by age (±3 years), were enrolled as controls. All cases and controls were negative for hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-HCV, but had history of chronic alcohol intake over 80
g per day. The clinical characteristics including presence of anti-HBc or serum HBV DNA (identified by nested polymerase chain reaction) were investigated. The mean age of both the cases and controls was 62±10 years.

The basal laboratory data, Child–Pugh scores, total lifetime alcohol intake (1459
±1364 versus 1641±1045kg), and detection rates of serum HBV DNA [31.7% (20/63) versus 29.9% (20/67)] of the cases and controls were not significantly different. However, the anti-HBc positivity rate was higher among the cases [86.1% (62/72)] than in the controls [66.7% (48/72); P=0.005] and was the only significant risk factor for HCC (odds ratio; 3.1, 95% confidence interval; 1.354–7.098, P=0.007).

Anti-HBc positivity was identified as a risk factor for the development of HCC in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Challenges and Blessings of Being a Sober Mother

As a new mother who is in recovery from alcoholism, I have gained an enormous amount of first-hand experience into the unique challenges that motherhood brings for those either trying to get sober or intending to sustain their recovery. However, there are also many positive reasons for alcoholic mothers to get or remain sober that are unique to becoming a parent. These challenges and blessings of motherhood are not unique to alcoholics, as other mothers experience them. However, the risk of relapse for sober mothers is always present and therefore, we must prioritize our recovery so that we can be the mothers that our children deserve. > > > > Read More

Attitudes towards nicotine, alcohol and drug dependence among physicians in Israel

Prevalence of substance use and substance use disorders in Israel is similar to those in other developed countries. The aim of this study was to examine attitudes of physicians in Israel towards nicotine, alcohol and drug use and dependence.

A national sample of physicians from different fields of medical specialty (
n = 208, response rate 26%) responded to a 50-item questionnaire. Questions included general questions regarding substance use and addictions, as well as specific questions focusing on nicotine, alcohol, cannabis and heroin use.

The poor response rate in this survey dictates caution in interpretation the results. However, they suggest that among medical specialties, psychiatrists had higher levels of self-reported competency in treating addictions and lower rates of moralism towards addictions.

Across substances, the highest rates of moralism and lowest ratings of treatment efficacy were directed towards individuals with alcohol dependence. Physicians generally reported experiencing lower levels of satisfaction and higher levels of aggression when treating individuals with alcohol or drug dependence compared with other patients.

Physicians' attitudes towards addictions have a significant role in the care that clients with addictions receive. Medical education programs in Israel should devote provisions towards educating physicians about addictions.

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Alcohol Problems, Aggression, and Other Externalizing Behaviors After Return From Deployment: Understanding the Role of Combat Exposure, Internalizing

The study examined whether elevated rates of externalizing behaviors following deployment could be explained by internalizing symptoms (depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms), and health of the social environment (unit leadership, organizational support, and stigma/barriers to care).

A model of combat exposure, social environment, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing behaviors was tested in a military unit following a fifteen-month deployment to Iraq. The sample included 1,397 soldiers assessed four month post-deployment; 589 of these soldiers were assessed again nine months post-deployment.

Externalizing behaviors were highly stable over the five-month post-deployment period. Both social environment and internalizing symptoms were significantly associated with level of externalizing behaviors at four months and nine months post-deployment, but combat exposure alone significantly predicted change in externalizing behaviors over the follow-up period.

Results suggest the need to broaden the scope of interventions targeted to combat veterans and have implications for care providers and military leaders.

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Risk factors for alcohol dependence in adolescents

To identify risk factors for alcohol dependence during adolescence.

Integrative review of 21 articles published between 2000 and 2009, captured in the LILACS, BVS, MEDLINE, COCHRANE and IBECS databases, with keywords: adolescence, risk for dependence, and alcohol .

There is evidence that alcohol is the most consumed drug by adolescents, with initiation between 14 and 16 years. Risk factors for dependency are related to early onset of use, media influence, troubled relationship with parents, use by family member, sexual abuse, domestic violence, low self-esteem, curiosity, and peer pressure, among others. The articles pointed to genetic vulnerability to alcohol dependence and controversies in relation to gender and social class.

Health services should incorporate preventive strategies for identifying risk for dependency, control and monitoring specific to the group of dependent adolescents.

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Forthcoming 2012 dates & events: Alcohol Concern Cymru Alcohol Marketing conference, 'Young people, alcopops and TV culture', further events

Alcohol Concern Cymru's 2012 conference

On 6 September 2012 in Cardiff, Alcohol Concern Wales will host a conference Willing consumers? Alcohol marketing and how to challenge it:

'The alcohol industry in the UK spends £800 million each year promoting its products. Meanwhile, alcohol-related harm costs the NHS in Wales £70 million a year. Join Alcohol Concern on 6 September to learn more about how alcohol marketing promotes a positive image of drinking, and how we can effectively challenge it.' >:> > > Read More

Global Actions May 9, 2012

Key Recent Milestones:

· Global: ICAP’s Nicole Ellenberger attended the United Nations Commission on Population and Development session in New York through ICAP’s UN Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) Special Consultative Status.

Global Actions in Focus: Progress in China

Global Actions initiatives are progressing in China, with several recent milestones in the areas of drink driving and self-regulation.

In April, Global Actions participated in the China International Drinks and Society Times Forum in Beijing where ICAP’s Brett Bivans presented on “Ensuring Responsible Marketing of Beverage Alcohol through Self-Regulation.” The forum was organized by the China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association (CADIA) and sponsored by AB InBev.

“CADIA members from all sectors (beer, wine, and spirits), along with advertising and media authorities in China, have reaffirmed their commitment to supporting responsible marketing practices through a self-regulatory approach,” said Bivans.

Global Actions also worked with the Nanjing Traffic Management Bureau and the Jiangsu Center for Health Education to train police officers in performing roadside breath alcohol tests. The Roadside Survey Training Workshop was successful in its efforts, with drink driving interventions currently being implemented in Xi’an and Nanjing from now until August 2012. Similar surveys will be administered in Wuhan this month.

Baseline survey results indicate that, of the estimated 4,000 motorists tested in Nanjing in April 2012, approximately 200 were found to have blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels that exceeded legal limits.

View more photos on our Facebook page.

What’s Happening Next:

· Colombia: ICAP has been invited to participate in a meeting on May 23 in Bogota hosted by the Universidad Javeriana of Bogota and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. Population interventions and harmful drinking will be discussed for contributions to a study by the Ministry of Health.

Urban Movement and Alcohol Intake Strongly Predict Defaulting from Tuberculosis Treatment: An Operational Study

High levels of defaulting from treatment challenge tuberculosis control in many African cities. We assessed defaulting from tuberculosis treatment in an African urban setting.

An observational study among adult patients with smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis receiving treatment at urban primary care clinics in Kampala, Uganda. Defaulting was defined as having missed two consecutive monthly clinic visits while not being reported to have died or continued treatment elsewhere. Defaulting patients were actively followed-up and interviewed. We assessed proportions of patients abandoning treatment with and without the information obtained through active follow-up and we examined associated factors through multivariable logistic regression.

Between April 2007 and April 2008, 270 adults aged ≥15 years were included; 54 patients (20%) were recorded as treatment defaulters. On active follow-up vital status was established of 28/54 (52%) patients. Of these, 19 (68%) had completely stopped treatment, one (4%) had died and eight (29%) had continued treatment elsewhere. Extrapolating this to all defaulters meant that 14% rather than 20% of all patients had truly abandoned treatment. Daily consumption of alcohol, recorded at the start of treatment, predicted defaulting (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj] 4.4, 95%CI 1.8–13.5), as did change of residence during treatment (ORadj 8.7, 95%CI 1.8–41.5); 32% of patients abandoning treatment had changed residence.

A high proportion of tuberculosis patients in primary care clinics in Kampala abandon treatment. Assessing change of residence during scheduled clinic appointments may serve as an early warning signal that the patient may default and needs adherence counseling.

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Effects of a Natural Community Intervention Intensifying Alcohol Law Enforcement Combined With a Restrictive Alcohol Policy on Adolescent Alcohol Use

Determining whether intensified inspections on alcohol retailers, combined with a policy withdrawing liquor licenses if retailers are fined twice per annum, is effective in reducing adolescents' odds to initiate weekly drinking and drunkenness. Causal pathways by which the intervention was assumed to work were tested.

A longitudinal (2008, 2009, and 2010) quasi-experimental comparison group design including two Dutch communities, one intervention and one comparison, was used. Outcomes were assessed by following a cohort of 1,327 adolescents (aged 13–15 years at baseline).

The intervention resulted in increased retail inspections but only seven sanctions and no repeated sanctions in 1 year. The intervention did not reduce adolescents' odds to initiate weekly drinking. Weekly drinking adolescents in the intervention community were at reduced risk to initiate drunkenness. This effect was not mediated by smaller increases in the frequency of adolescents' alcohol purchases or their perceived ease of purchasing alcohol.

Intensified enforcement was effective in preventing adolescent drunkenness. No mediating causal pathways were detected. Effectiveness of enforcement could be increased by adopting enforcement methods with a high likelihood of apprehension, increasing social support for restrictive measures, and mobilizing the community to be more outspoken against adolescent (heavy) drinking.

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Alcohol Consumption in Relation to Work Environment and Key Sociodemographic Characteristics Among Female Sex Workers in China

The study explores the variation in pattern of alcohol use and related risk behaviors by types of sex work environments and sociodemographic characteristics among female sex workers (FSWs) in China.

Data were collected from 1,022 FSWs in Guangxi, China, through a self-administered questionnaire. Chi-square and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to assess the variations.

Results showed that younger FSWs were more susceptible than older FSWs to nearly all the risk drinking behaviors. FSWs of non-Han ethnicity as compared with those of Han ethnicity were more at risk of drinking large amounts of alcohol and having sex under the influence of alcohol. FSWs in entertainment establishments were most likely to have all kinds of risk drinking behaviors. Street-based FSWs were least likely to drink alcohol but more or equally likely to engage in alcohol-related sexual risk behaviors.

The study highlights a need to develop tailored alcohol risk reduction intervention that takes into consideration these differences.

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Characterization of Cerebellar Ataxia in Chronic Alcoholics Using the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS)

Alcoholism is the most common cause of cerebellar dysfunction, yet estimates of the incidence of alcoholic cerebellar degeneration (ACD) vary greatly, with differences in methodologies contributing to these disparate findings. This study set out to characterize the frequency and pattern of clinical signs of ACD in an alcoholic group using the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS).

We compared the performance of 49 alcoholics and 29 control participants. The relative contributions of demographic and alcohol consumption variables to ICARS scores in the alcoholic group were also examined.

The alcoholic group demonstrated significantly poorer performance on all of the ICARS subscales as compared with the control group. Within the alcoholic group, performance was more impaired on the speech scale than on all of the other scales, except the lower limb component of the kinetic scale, and less impaired on the oculomotor scale compared with all other scales. Years of heavy drinking and lifetime alcohol consumption correlated with total ICARS scores; however, maximum daily consumption was actually negatively correlated with ICARS scores. Of the alcohol history variables, years of heavy drinking was the best predictor of total ICARS scores, making a 19% unique contribution, followed by the period of abstinence from alcohol, which uniquely contributed 7% of the variance. There were high correlations between age and male gender and the alcohol consumption variables; however, age and gender were still found to uniquely contribute 5 and 7% respectively to the variance in total ICARS scores.

ACD may affect up to two-thirds of chronic alcoholics. Assessing the number of years an individual has been drinking beyond a certain threshold can give a good indication of the likelihood of ACD. Age, gender, and the source of the clinical sample may significantly contribute to the prevalence of ACD and require further detailed investigation.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Influence of Cue Exposure on Inhibitory Control and Brain Activation in Patients with Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol dependence is a serious condition characterized by persistent desires to drink and unsuccessful efforts to control alcohol consumption despite the knowledge of dysfunction through the usage.

The study at hand examined the influence of an alcohol exposure on inhibitory processes. Research provides evidence that trying to resist the temptation to drink exerts self-control, a limited resource which is used during all acts of inhibition.

In line with this, studies demonstrate an impaired ability to regulate an already initiated response in alcohol-dependent and healthy subjects when confronted with alcohol-related stimuli. The related neuronal correlates in alcohol-dependent patients remain to be elucidated.

The inhibition performance of 11 male alcohol-dependent patients during an alcohol exposure was compared with the task performance during a control condition. Behavioral data and neural brain activation during task performance were acquired by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging.

The alcohol cue exposure led to subjectively stronger urges to drink which was accompanied by differential neural activation in amygdala and hippocampus. Moreover, the results revealed typical neural activation during inhibition performance across both conditions. Anyhow, we could not detect any behavioral deficits and only subtle neural differences between induction conditions during the performance of the inhibition task within the inferior frontal cortex.

The results suggest that although the sample reports a subjectively stronger urge to drink after the alcohol cue exposure this effect was not strong enough to significantly impair task performance. Coherently, we discover only subtle differential brain activation between conditions during the inhibition task.

In opposition to findings in literature our data do not reveal that an exposure to alcohol-related cues and thereby elicited cue reactivity results in impaired inhibition abilities.

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Prevalence and Correlates of Drinking in Early Pregnancy Among Women who Stopped Drinking on Pregnancy Recognition

Women of child bearing age that regularly drink alcohol are at risk for drinking in early pregnancy. Evidence indicates a majority of women stop alcohol consumption on pregnancy recognition. However, there is a dearth of studies reporting on patterns and correlates of drinking in early pregnancy prior to stopping on pregnancy recognition, which the current study aims to address.

In 2005, a New Zealand nationwide cross-sectional survey was conducted on a random sample of 1,256 women aged 16–40 years. Data were collected via an interviewer-administered questionnaire using a web-assisted telephone interviewing system. Of the 1,256 women who participated, 127 (10 %) were currently pregnant and 425 women (34 %) were previously pregnant. Half of currently pregnant women and 37 % of previously pregnant women reported that they ceased drinking on recognising pregnancy. Women categorised as “risky drinkers” and those aged 16–24 years had higher odds to drink and binge drink in early pregnancy, compared with non-risky drinkers and women of other age categories respectively. A majority of women stop alcohol consumption on pregnancy recognition but prior to this, drink at levels posing a risk for the developing foetus. Women most at risk for drinking and binge drinking in early pregnancy were younger in age and exhibited risky drinking behaviour prior to pregnancy. A targeted intervention to reduce the risk for an alcohol exposed pregnancy is warranted for sexually active younger women in New Zealand and elsewhere.

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Alcohol Intake and the Incidence of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoid Neoplasms in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort

Although several studies have shown a lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in alcohol drinkers compared with nondrinkers, the dose-response relation and potential differences between former and current drinking and across beverage types and subtypes are unclear.

The authors examined associations of alcohol intake with risk of NHL and NHL subtypes in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, a prospective study of US men and women aged 50–74 years. Between 1992 and 2007, there were 1,991 incident NHL cases among 143,124 participants. Multivariable-adjusted relative risks and 95% confidence intervals were computed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Compared with nondrinkers, the relative risk of NHL associated with former drinking was 0.90 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.75, 1.10); the relative risks associated with current intakes of <1, 1–2, and >2 drinks/day were 0.93 (95% CI: 0.83, 1.03), 0.91 (95% CI: 0.78, 1.06), and 0.78 (95% CI: 0.65, 0.93), respectively. Associations did not differ by sex (
P-interaction = 0.45) or beverage type (P-difference = 0.22). Alcohol intake was more strongly associated with B-cell lymphoma (P-trend = 0.005) than with T-cell lymphoma (P-trend = 0.76), and associations were similar among B-cell lymphoma subtypes.

In this prospective study, current heavy alcohol intake was associated with a reduced risk of NHL. Associations did not differ by beverage type and were slightly stronger for B-cell tumors than for T-cell tumors.

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Alcohol News - 19/2012

Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) - NEWS ANALYSIS: Storm in a beer glass
A plan by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to place restrictions on the advertising of alcoholic beverages has caused a small tsunami in the beer glasses of Finland’s ice hockey bosses.
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Helsinki Times (Finland) - Government proposes more restrictions on alcohol advertising
THE Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has circulated a draft bill to limit alcohol advertising. The bill, if enacted, would severely restrict such advertising and impact industries dependent upon sponsorship from alcohol companies.
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New York Daily News - Alcohol more harmful for women
Alcohol in any amount can be dangerous to anyone but it affects women more than men, with increased health risks like liver and heart diseases and infertility for them, according to experts.
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Washington Post (UK) - British parliamentary speaker says more lawmakers now seeking help for alcohol issues
An increasing number of U.K. lawmakers are seeking help for alcohol-related problems, the parliamentary speaker said Sunday, saying drinking problems among legislators mirrored those of British society at large.
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Los Angeles Times (USA) - Buying alcohol online? It's not hard for underage drinkers
Underage drinkers who participated in a study to see if they could buy alcoholic beverages online were successful in 45% of attempts.
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New York Times (USA) - A Battle With the Brewers
AFTER seeing Anheuser-Busch’s devastating exploitation of American Indians, I’m done with its beer. The human toll is evident here in Whiteclay: men and women staggering on the street, or passed out, whispers of girls traded for alcohol.
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Evansville Courier & Press (USA) - Youth Resources: Alcohol's effect on the teen brain causes risky decisions
Parents and educators have been teaching teenagers about the dangers of drugs and alcohol for years. The once popular "Just Say No" and "This is Your Brain on Drugs" campaigns are just a few that you might recall.
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Globe and Mail (Canada) - Zero-alcohol laws gaining ground in Canada; do they work for young drivers?
Half of Canada's provinces now have a zero-alcohol policy for young drivers, with Quebec becoming the fifth to join in on no-alcohol legislation along with Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario.
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Alcohol Justice - Stop “Drink Responsibly” Charade Says Alcohol Justice
Alcohol Justice, the U.S. based alcohol industry watchdog, released an in-depth report today debunking Big Alcohol’s cynical “Drink Responsibly” messages.
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BBC News (Scotland) - MSPs approve drink pricing sunset clause
New laws to bring in minimum drink pricing in Scotland will be ditched after six years if they fail to work.
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GlobalPost (Australia) - Australians drinking less alcohol, figures show
Australians are drinking less alcohol, with beer consumption plunging to a 65-year low, according to the latest national statistics.
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Sacramento Bee (USA) - U.S. re-examines alcohol ads in social media era
Twitter didn't exist the last time the Federal Trade Commission examined alcohol advertising, back in the last decade.
Read more (Angola) - Alcoholic Drinks Cause Disturbances in Pregnant Women
The pregnant women are likely to transmit diseases to newborn children, due to excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.
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Medical Xpress - Anti-smoking drug decreases alcohol consumption in heavy-drinking smokers
The smoking cessation drug varenicline significantly reduced alcohol consumption in a group of heavy-drinking smokers, in a study carried out by researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
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ABC Online (Australia) - Alcohol law changes attacked as sign of failure
The Northern Territory Opposition says the reason the Government is amending its liquor laws is because its original legislation has failed.
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Newstalk ZB (New Zealand) - Alcohol Bill changes 'don't go far enough'
Some changes have been made to the controversial Alcohol Reform Bill, but opposition parties say they don't go far enough. The Bill will come before Parliament next month, with some small amendments expected, but not major changes such as the introduction of a minimum pricing on alcohol.
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New York Daily News - 7 minutes of counseling can curb binge drinking
People with alcohol problems who end up at the the emergency departments at hospitals can curb their behavior with as little as seven minutes of on-the-spot physician counseling, according to research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
Read more (South Africa) - Bruise cruise
Government is promising “no compromise” in its bid to rein in alcohol advertising. At the same time as other countries are discussing the possible legalisation of certain addictive drugs, SA seems intent on tightening the noose on alcohol.
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Radio Netherlands (Netherlands) - Dutch teens happy and mostly sober
Alcohol consumption among Dutch 11 and 13-year-olds has decreased substantially in the past five years. Dutch kids are also the happiest in both Europe and North America.
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