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Friday, January 31, 2014

Risk: Drinking Alcohol Increases the Chance of Skin Cancer

Beach shoes
The countless people who look forward to having fun in the sun drinking alcohol may be putting themselves at a greater risk of skin cancer. New research has found a link between alcohol consumption and skin cancer, BBC News reports. The data from thousands of patients in 16 different studies was examined by researchers.

The human body converts ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol products, into a compound called acetaldehyde, potentially making skin more sensitive to ultraviolet rays. When people drink alcohol, they tend to spend a longer period of time in the sun than average, often times without the aid of sunblock, according to researchers.

People who have at least one alcoholic beverage daily results in an increased risk of skin cancer by one-fifth - there was a greater risk associated with drinking more alcohol. Having just a few strong beers could make one 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

In a news release, Professor Chris Bunker, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said, “We would always urge people to be careful in the sun and try to enjoy it responsibly. It is not uncommon to have a few drinks whilst on holiday or at a barbeque, we would just encourage people to be careful and make sure they are protecting their skin, this research provides an extra incentive to do so. Many of us have seen holiday makers who have been caught unawares the day before, fuzzy-headed and lobster red – an unwelcome combination.”

The study appears in the British Journal of Dermatology.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

National Drug Facts Week 2014

Logo of the United States National Institute o...
January 27 to February 2 is National Drug Facts Week, it is an opportunity for communities and schools to join together to hold events for teens to learn how drugs affect the brain, body and behavior. In order to prepare, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has provided new resources that will enable parents, doctors and treatment specialists to better assist teenagers dealing with addiction.

Teenage drug use and treatment needs are not the same as adults, according to NIDA. Most teens do not think they need help with their problem, and it usually takes the driving force of loved ones before teens get the help that they need. In fact, only 10 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds needing treatment for substance abuse actually gets help, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research Based Guide is an online publication that serves a guide for treating teenage substance abuse. The guide includes:
  • A set of principle for treating adolescent substance use disorders.
  • Frequently asked questions.
  • Evidence-based approaches.
  • Family and medical professionals' roles.
“Because critical brain circuits are still developing during the teen years, this age group is particularly susceptible to drug abuse and addiction,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow said in a news release. “These new resources are based on recent research that has greatly advanced our understanding of the unique treatment needs of the adolescent.”
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Rise Above Colorado Prescription Drug Campaign

RitalinThe state of Colorado has been hit hard by teenage prescription drug abuse due to the ease at which such drugs can be acquired. As a result, Colorado is launching a new campaign, Rise Above Colorado, to reduce prescription drug abuse among teens, The Denver Post reports. 

Colorado is not alone; Ohio has a new initiative, called Start Talking, to encourage parents to speak with their children about drug abuse. The initiative's goal is to make parents more confident in speaking to children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. 

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers fully support the new campaign aimed at helping teens get the facts. Following the example of the Colorado Meth Project, Rise Above Colorado has educational programs as well as outreach efforts.

“We wanted to respond to the changing drug landscape,” Rise Above Colorado Executive Director Kent MacLennan told the newspaper. “We will communicate with teens on a science and fact basis. We won’t be preachy. We will present facts in an honest way.”

A nationwide survey found that 25.6 percent of teens have taken prescription drugs without a prescription. Rise Above Colorado and The Partnership at Drugfree.org conducted a survey; their findings showed that more than 29 percent of high school seniors in Colorado have taken prescription medication without a prescription.

With 42 percent of teens in Colorado saying that it was easy to get prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets, it is a clear sign that parents need to take action to safeguard their medications. In fact, most teenagers experiment with drugs they find in their own home before they seek them elsewhere.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Lack of Alcohol Screening by Doctors

English: Logo of the Centers for Disease Contr...
Has your doctor ever asked about your alcohol use? If not, than you are not alone! In fact, only one in six adults report that their doctor has ever asked them about their alcohol use, according to new findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Drinking alcohol has a lot more risks than many people realize,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “In the same way we screen patients for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, we should be screening for excess alcohol use and responding effectively.”

Only 17 percent of pregnant women said they had been asked about their drinking, according to USA Today. The CDC defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks within two to three hours for men, and four or more drinks during that time for women. Binge drinking is responsible for the majority of alcohol related problems, yet, only 25 percent of binge drinkers say they have been asked about their alcohol use, the CDC reports.

New insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, cover alcohol screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all patients have alcohol screening.

“We are not saying no one should drink. Most people who drink do so without adverse health effects,” Frieden said. “But many people who do drink, drink too much at a time or too much overall… The health system is not doing a good job of finding out about these problems.”

Conducted in 2011, the survey included 166,753 adults over age 18 in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Studies show that screening patients about their alcohol use and offering brief counseling can reduce problem drinking, according to the CDC.
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Friday, January 3, 2014

State Alcohol Policy Prevents Binge Drinking

A Kranz (wreath) of K├Âlsch beer.
Binge drinking continues to be a major problem throughout the United States; it is responsible for more than half of the 80,000 alcohol related deaths that occur each year. Sadly, a large proportion of binge drinking related accidents involve teenagers and young adults. Many of those deaths could be prevented if the proper policies were in effect, according to new research.

A new study, led by researchers at the Boston University Schools of Medicine (BUSM) and Public Health and Boston Medical Center (BMC), has looked into the effects of alcohol policies on binge drinking. Researchers created a composite measure of 29 alcohol policies showing that a strong alcohol policy environment is a preventive defense against binge drinking in the U.S.

"If alcohol policies were a newly discovered gene, pill or vaccine, we'd be investing billions of dollars to bring them to market," said Tim Naimi, MD, MPH, senior author of the study, and associate professor of medicine at BUSM and attending physician at BMC.

Research showed that states with alcohol policy environments differed considerably, but states with fewer policies in place had binge drinking rates that were 33% higher. "Unfortunately, most states have not taken advantage of these policies to help drinkers consume responsibly, and to protect innocent citizens from the devastating second-hand effects and economic costs from excessive drinking," added Naimi.

The policy environments from state to state showed to greatly impact the differences in binge drinking. "The bottom line is that this study adds an important dimension to a large body of research demonstrating that alcohol policies matter - and matter a great deal - for reducing and preventing the fundamental building block of alcohol-related problems," said Naimi.

The research was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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