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Moderate Alcohol Use Linked to High Blood Pressure

Even minimal levels of alcohol may influence both short- and long-term health.

A large meta-analysis of over 360,000 adults and 90,000 newly diagnosed hypertensives found that men who averaged 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day had an increased risk for high blood pressure (RR 1.2). As their alcohol intake increased, so did their hypertension risk. In the women, risk began to increase at 3 or more drinks per day.

PositiveTip: Evidence is growing that any level of alcohol is not safe.

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NIH Pulls Funding on Alcohol Study

This study was inadequately powered to assess long-term safety of alcohol.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has withdrawn funding for the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial (MACH15) because of a possible pro-alcohol primary endpoint and inadequate attention to alcohol hazards like some cancers. Industry funding was also solicited by NIH employees in violation of policy. Bravo, for NIH's willingness to stop supporting this study!

PositiveTip: Good, solid studies leave little question there is any safe level of alcohol use.

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Binge Drinking in the U.S.,

U.S. adults consume about 17.5 billion total binge drinks annually.

Researchers from CDC studied data from 400,000 U.S. adults and found 1 in 6 U.S. adults (17%) binge drink more than one time per week. Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women at one occasion. This accounts for 80,000 annual deaths. Binge drinking is a problem across the lifespan and is more common among men than women.

PositiveTip: Choosing to avoid any alcohol will prevent you from binge drinking, too!

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Parents Should Stop Giving Teens Alcohol

Parental provision of alcohol to teenagers is a risk for harmful behaviors.

When teens get alcohol from their parents they are more likely to engage in risky drinking practices. This was found in a large study of Australian adolescents ages 13-18.  Surprisingly, 15% of teens received alcohol from their parents when they were 13, versus 57% when 18. Compared with teens with no alcohol supply, parental supply increased the risk of binge-drinking, alcohol-related harms and alcohol use disorder more than two times.

PositiveTip:  Parents should not supply their teens with alcohol--neither should anyone else.

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Parents Should Stop Giving Teens Alcohol

Parental provision of alcohol to teenagers is a risk for risky behaviors.

When teens get alcohol from their parents they are more likely to engage in risky drinking practices. This was found in a large study of Australian adolescents ages 13-18.  Surprisingly, 15% of teens received alcohol from their parents when they were 13, versus 57% when 18. When compared with teens with no alcohol supply, parental supply increased the risk of binge-drinking, alcohol-related harms and alcohol use disorder more than two times.

PositiveTip:  Parents should not supply their teens with alcohol--neither should anyone else.

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Teen Brain Development Hampered by Alcohol

Keeping kegs out of dormitories makes a lot of sense.

Researchers studying teenagers for two years found significant negative brain changes is both heavy and moderate drinkers. The more alcohol consumed the worse the outcomes. After controlling for confounders, slower increases in gray matter and accelerated decreases in gray matter were observed.

PositiveTip: Drinking alcohol is harmful to adolescent brains--and brains of all ages!

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Small Amounts of Alcohol Lead to Brain Damage

Drinking habits many consider normal have adverse consequences for health.

Researchers studied 530 U.K. non-alcohol dependent adults whose alcohol consumption and cognitive performance was repeatedly assessed for over 30 years. Brain imaging was performed at the most recent visit. After adjustment for potential confounders, even moderate alcohol use (up to 21 drinks per week) was associated with a 3x greater risk of having hippocampal atrophy than abstainers. Very light drinking (1-6 drinks per week) gave no protection relative to not drinking.

PositiveTip: Abstinence from all alcohol appears to be the best policy for long-term brain health.

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Small Amounts of Alcohol Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

AICR estimates that one-third of breast cancers in the U.S. could be prevented!

Consuming just one glass of wine (or other alcoholic drink) a day increases the risk of breast cancer, the most common global cause of cancer in women! Excess body fat also increases the risk. Regular physical activity and breastfeeding decrease the risk. 

PositiveTip: Click on this link to view an intriguing infographic on how you, a loved one or friend, can lower the risk of breast cancer.

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Alcohol and Marijuana Affect College Grades

Use of alcohol and marijuana does impact academic performance.

The two most commonly used substances on college campuses are alcohol and marijuana. Researchers followed freshmen from two collages for two years, tracking academic performance and monthly use of alcohol and cannabis. The lowest users of both substances maintained the highest GPAs, and had the lowest depression scores when compared to those with moderate to high alcohol but no marijuana use or moderate to high users of both. Grades improved with lower substance abuse!

PositiveTip: Going for the gold academically? Stay away from alcohol and marijuana.

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Preventing "Holiday Heart Syndrome"

Habitual moderate drinking and binge drinking predisposes people to atrial fibrillation.

Holiday revelers be warned: it is well known that heavy drinking, even in the occasional binge, leads to atrial fibrillation (AF). Now in a sobering review, Australian scientists report even though small amounts of alcohol are considered by many to be cardioprotective, these benefits do not extend to AF.

PositiveTip: This holiday season stay safe and healthy by avoiding all alcoholic drinks.