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Excess Weight + Alcohol = Dangerous Combination

Obesity and excessive drinking cause men 18 times more risk of liver disease.

You probably already know that drinking alcohol increases risk of liver disease, but did you know that drinking too much plus being overweight dramatically increases it? 

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Early Exposure to Alcohol Increases Risk

The earlier kids try alcohol, the greater risk for alcohol dependence later in life.

Have you ever heard that teaching kids how to use alcohol at an early age is a good idea. Beware: more than 40 percent of those who begin drinking at age 14 or younger develop alcohol dependence, compared with 10 percent of those who begin drinking at age 20 or older.

PositiveTip: Don’t consider allowing your kids to drink at an early age. It’s a loaded gun!

Tipsy Rats and Primates Endanger Their Offspring

A long held myth that the third trimester of pregnancy was a "safe" time for the expectant mother to use alcohol or illicit substances is being shattered. Many potentially devastating effects of alcohol are fairly well-understood. Researchers have examined the effects of ethanol and saline exposure in pregnant rats during various times of nerve development (synaptogenesis) of the frontal lobes in the rat, including pre- and post-natal periods.

Pregnant woman drinking and smoking.

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What is Drowsy Driving?

Sleepiness and driving is as deadly as alcohol and driving.

Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but often don't realize that sleepiness and driving a vehicle can be just as fatal. Sleepiness, like alcohol, slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgement and increases your risk of an accident. For information on how to drive alert and arrive alive visit DrowsyDriving.org.

PositiveTip: When you are driving and get sleepy, pull off the road for the safety of you and others!

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Alcohol as a Cause of Breast Cancer

Even moderate drinking increases the risk of breast cancer in women of all ages.

Today the media often reports on the purported benefits of moderate alcohol use in preventing cardiovascular disease. However, the dark side of that apparently good news is that even moderate alcohol use by women significantly increases their risk of breast cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research believes there is ample and consistent evidence that alcoholic drinks are a cause of both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer. (Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective,  p. 165-168: 2007)

PositiveTip: Abstain even from moderate amounts of alcohol to lower the risk of breast cancer.

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Driving Ability of Sleep Apnea Patients Worse with Alcohol Use

Alcohol use worsens driving risk in those with obstructive sleep apnea.

Driving skills in people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are more severely affected by alcohol use and sleep deprivation than age-matched controls. Australian investigators found both sleep restriction (4 hrs. max in last 24 hrs.) or a moderate blood alcohol level (0.05 g/dL, which is lower than the legal driving limit in the U.S.) caused worse steering deviations from the median lane and greater deterioration of steering control during the 90 minute simulated drive than controls. OSA participants were 20-32% more likely to have at least one crash also.

PositiveTip: Avoid sleep restriction or alcohol use to be a safe driver--even if you don't have OSA.

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Sleep Apnea Patients Need to Avoid Even Small Amounts of Alcohol for Safety

Even small amounts of alcohol in those with sleep apnea are very dangerous to driving--and for everyone!

Investigators in Austrailia have compared the impact of small amounts of alcohol and sleep deprivation on the simulated driving skills of those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and controls. Subjects with OSA were 21% more likely to have crashes after a small amount of alcohol (BAC 0.05 g/dL) and 32% more likely following sleep deprivation (4 hrs sleep on one night). The controls only had one crash. Even less than a legal dose of alcohol can be deadly. (Legal limits vary from 0.015 g/dL in Japan to 0.08 g/dL in the US.)

PositiveTip: Avoid alcohol and sleep restriction before driving or performing tasks in which safety is a factor.

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Alcohol Leads to Empty Promises

Drunk people ignore reality and think they can do anything!

According to the "alcohol-myopia theory," individuals under the influence of alcohol tend to ignore peripheral information and focus on the immediate. New research confirms that people having consumed alcohol may be determined to reach a goal, but once sober, they no longer walk the talk! In fact, when the odds were very low of attaining a goal, the intoxicated participants of this study were more committed to reach it than the placebo group. Drunken courage didn't translate well into future actions, either.

Know Your Own Level of Performance

We all recognize that a person under the influence of alcohol subjectively feels they are functioning at their peak performance, when objectively they demonstrate significant declines in cognitive and motor performance. So, even when sober, how can you determine if you are fit to perform your expected tasks safely and well?

This is not easily done when you are tired unless you have a standard with which to compare yourself. Unfortunately, the areas of the brain most compromised by fatigue are the same areas required to evaluate and recognize the deficits of the fatigued state.

When soldiers who have slept as little as four hours per night for several weeks were questioned about their performance, they indicated they were functioning very well--maybe better than when rested! In actuality, they were functioning at about 30-35% of their rested capacity! Functional losses in fatigue are very similar to those caused by the influence of alcohol.

Which is Better: Tired or Drunk?

Why do people attempt to drive cars, operate complex machinery, or fly airplanes when they are tired?

Answers to this question are varied, but usually boil down to one common attitude: we think the risk is trivial or perfectly acceptable! Often this is the case because we have done it before, toughed it out, or "made it safely". As a result we become cavalier and self-assured--too often to the determent of others and ourselves.

Consider the person who may drive several hundred miles while frequently dozing at the wheel without stopping because they wanted to get home. Yet this same person considers it criminal to drive while under the influence of alcohol. What is the difference? Sure, being sleepy is natural, but it is also as dangerous as alcohol when operating a vehicle or other equipment.