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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.

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Women Reaching Equality with Men in Drinking

Women closing gap with men in alcohol use and related harms.

Researchers have found women have all but caught up with men in their alcohol drinking habits. During earlier decades men were far more likely to drink so much that it affected their health than women. That gap has closed. Women around the world are now nearly as likely as men to drink excessively and suffer harm from it.

PositiveTip: Choosing to live alcohol-free assures freedom from the health and social downsides of drinking.

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Absent Parents Influence Alcohol & Tobacco Use

One absent parent early in life results in greater risk for unhealthy behaviors by 11.

A large U.K. study found when there is an absent parent by age 7, the kids risks of smoking and alcohol consumption prior to their teenage years increased by 2.86 and 1.46, respectively. Earlier initiation of these risky behaviors may impact the risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease later in life, as well as dependence issues.

PositiveTip: Children who experience parental absence need support and care from significant others to prevent smoking and alcohol initiation.

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New U. K. Alcohol Guidelines

Stricter U. K. alcohol guidelines reflect current scientific evidence.

Following a review of scientific evidence the U.K. Chief Medical Officers issued new guidelines on the use of alcohol. Clear evidence shows even the consumption of 1 drink per day is linked with increased risk of several cancers and recognizes the claimed protective benefits for heart disease is weaker than first thought. They state there is no safe level for pregnant women, and warns against binge drinking. (Supporting evidence papers are available here.)

PositiveTip: Avoiding all alcohol consumption is still good advice for limiting risks.

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Any Alcohol Exposure Places Baby At Risk

Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders may affect up to 5% of U.S. children.

A recent clinical report in Pediatrics says, "There is no known absolutely safe quantity, frequency, type, or timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy," Growing evidence indicates that alcohol-related birth defects and developmental disabilities are completely preventable. It is also likely there are effects from prenatal alcohol exposure that are more subtle than current methods can detect.

PositiveTip: There is no safe level of alcohol use prior to or during pregnancy!

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Large Study Shows No Net Benefit from Alcohol

New study finds no overall benefit from alcohol consumption.

Alcohol is the third most important modifiable risk factor for death and disability. It is linked with more than 60 health disorders. A study of over 114,000 adults from 12 countries found no net benefit from the use of alcohol when cancer, heart disease, injury and overall death rates were considered. This study examined a range of income levels, also. 

PositiveTip: If you don't use alcohol you should not start; if you do drink, evidence is growing stronger that you should quit now!

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Teenage Drinking Shrinks Gray Matter

Normal development of the teenage brain affected by use of alcohol.

Heavy drinking of alcohol during adolescence appears to lead to the exaggerated loss of gray matter and an increase in white matter compared to non-drinking peers. The study subjects tended to drink in binges on weekends or at parties. At baseline average GPA was 3.5 (of 4), but the drinkers average dropped during the study to 3.2, while the non-drinkers remained the same.

PositiveTip: Encourage adolescents to avoid the use of all alcohol!

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Not So Fast with the Alcohol

Alcohol no longer seen as beneficial for heart disease risk.

Earlier research appeared to show that moderate drinkers lived longer than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. However, many of those studies included former heavy drinkers who had poorer health than never drinkers. Research from the U.K. which removed the former drinkers from comparison groups did not find the same benefits. The authors note they are skeptical there is any benefit from alcohol.

PositiveTip: Avoid all alcohol as it appears not to protect from heart disease and is a definite risk factor for breast and colon cancer.

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Energy Drink Use and Risk of Alcohol Abuse in Youth

Youth who recently consumed energy drinks are at higher risk for binge drinking.

Consuming energy drinks within the past 7 days significantly increased the risk of youth who have ever used alcohol to mix energy drinks and alcohol (27% vs. 7%). In the same national survey, youth 15 to 17 years old who had consumed energy drinks in the past 7 days were more than 2 times as likely (34% vs. 15%) to binge drink (consume 6 or more drinks in a row).

PositiveTip: Avoiding all energy drinks is best policy for youth (and adults)!

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Risky Drinking Bad All-round

Two and a half million years of potential life is lost due to excessive drinking.

Many people think alcohol addiction and motor vehicle accidents are the only problems with alcohol. However, cancer, heart disease, drowning, falls and other causes must be included. An average of 87,798 deaths in the U.S. occur from binge drinking (5 or more drinks on a single occasion). Most of those were due to motor vehicle accidents. Among working-age adults, one in 10 deaths is associated with excessive drinking (more than 14 drinks per week in men, eight in women).

PositiveTip: The safest course is to avoid all alcohol consumption.