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Age of First Drink Influences Alcohol Dependence

The earlier a person starts drinking the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent.

A fascinating study has investigated the relationship of alcohol dependence to the age of first drinking among 2691 twins living in Australia. In both males and females it was found that the earlier they started drinking, the more likely they were to become dependent on alcohol (41.1% of males who started before the age of 14 vs. 14.6% in those starting later, 25.3% for females starting early vs. 7.5% starting later). 

PositiveTip: Contrary to some advice given, avoid encourging young adolescents to try alcohol even if supervised.

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Parental Approval of Drinking Increases Teen Alcohol Use

Kids who did not drink at home are less likely to drink as heavily outside the home.

Dutch researchers examined whether parent-monitored drinking as well as drinking with best friends slowed the usual increase in alcohol consumption and binge drinking patterns in adolescents as they grew older. The authors conclude, “Our findings suggest that parents who do not want their children to develop heavy drinking patterns later on should prohibit alcohol use of their adolescent children at home and outside the home at an early age.”

PositiveTip: Beware of the idea of parent-monitored drinking. Not allowing teens to drink is the best prevention!

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One Weekly Drink During Pregnancy Influences Child's Behavior

Even a weekly drink during pregnancy increases childhood aggressiveness.

Children exposed to alcohol in the womb were 3.2 times more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior problems by 6 years old than children with no fetal alcohol exposure. Even as little as 1 drink per week increased risk and greater use increased childhood behavioral problems even more. The authors warned that a mother should be informed there is "no safe level” of alcohol use during pregnancy.

PositiveTip: If you are even considering the possibility of pregnancy, don't drink alcoholic beverages.

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Alcohol Prolongs Psychological Anxiety of Stress

Alcohol consumption to relieve stress only prolongs the agony.

People often use alcohol as a way of coping with life's stress. New research indicates this may actually just bring more unpleasantness. Although alcohol reduces the cortisol secretion of the stress response, it also prolongs the negative psychological anxiety of stress and takes away the pleasurable effects of alcohol. So stress and alcohol feed the worst in each other, leading to an increased risk of developing stress-related diseases and alcohol addiction.

PositiveTip: Try positive ways of dealing with stress, such as going for walks, doing deep breathing exercises, or talking to a friend. An often overlooked but powerful tool is prayer.

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Alcohol-induced Blackouts May Predict College-age Injury Risk

Binge drinking linked with impaired brain function and more injuries.

Risky drinking and its consequences are common on college campuses. In fact, in 2001 almost 600,000 such injuries occurred and in 2005 almost 2,000 U.S. College students died as a result. Now, researchers have discovered that alcohol induced blackouts can be a predictor of the likelihood of booze-related injuries. Study participants who reported no alcohol-fueled blackouts had a 2-year injury rate of 25.6%. However, a significant dose response was found for alcohol-induced injury of 57% in those reporting 1-2 memory blackouts and 164% for those reporting 6+ blackouts.

PositiveTip: It may be popular, but college-age students should avoid binge-drinking for many reasons, including accident prevention.

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Small Lifestyle Changes Add Up!

Each hour of daily television viewing contributes almost 1/3 pound weight gain every 4 years.

In a remarkable study of more than 120,000 men and women followed for 20 years, researchers have confirmed that small changes in lifestyle can significantly impact long-term weight control. Participants were assessed every 4 years. Not suprisingly, physical activity contributed to 1.76 pounds of weight loss every four years. Each alcoholic drink per day, added 0.41 pounds and each hour of television viewing per day added 0.31 pounds over the same time.

PositiveTip: Small choices made on a consistent basis contribute to significant changes over time. What kind of little changes do you need to make to improve your health?

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Don't Mix Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases binge drinking, sexual indiscretion and drunk driving.

The common practice among youth and young adults of mixing energy drinks with alcoholic beverages increases the risk of binge drinking by 300 per cent. It also doubles the risk of being taken advantage of sexually, of taking sexual advantage of someone else, and doubles the likelihood of riding with a driver under the influence.

PositiveTip: Choose alternative non-alcoholic drinks over alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They don’t carry these dangerous risks!



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Alcohol Consumption Raises Risk of Cancer

10% of cancers in men, and 3% in women are attributable to alcohol.

European investigators have determined the burden of cancer attributable to alcohol consumption in a 10 year study of 365,000 men and women living in eight Western European countries. In males, 10% of the total cancer incidence was attributable to current and former alcohol consumption, and in females it was 3%. Higher consumption (more than 2 drinks per day in men, and more than 1 drink per day in women) was associated with higher cancer incidence.

PositiveTip: To minimize your risk of cancer, leave even small amounts of alcohol alone!

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"Beer Belly" May Bring on Stomach Cancer

Heavy beer drinking and a gene mutation raise risk of stomach cancer 700+%.

Drinking three brews per day (30 g of alcohol from beer) increased the risk of stomach cancer by 75% (65% for all forms of alcohol) compared to very light consumption. However, if beer drinkers had a genetic variant to the alcohol dehydrogenase gene cluster (ADH1), their risk of stomach cancer increased by more than 700% compared to light consumption and no mutation.

PositiveTip: Avoiding all forms of alcohol consumption is prudent to minimize the risk of stomach cancer, but beer appears to be especially potent. 

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Binge Drinking Not Good for the Heart

Binge drinkers do not benefit from moderate amounts of alcohol.

Last year we asked the question: could it be that those who benefit from moderate drinking really benefit from a personality trait that keeps them moderate in all of life?

A new European study has confirmed that the cardiovascular risks associated with binge drinking are not equivalent to drinking the same amount of alcohol over a week's time.

PositiveTip: Beware of the lure of moderate alcohol use.