Entries in Alcohol (77)


'Smoking' Alcohol and the Sobering Risks of Ingestion Fads YORK) -- Drinkers who have grown bored with drinking alcohol in liquid form, or who are hoping to skip the calories, have found a way to “smoke” their favorite spirits.

Vaporizing alcohol in either dry ice or through a specially made device has taken the Internet by storm, even if it is not readily available at your local watering hole. Multiple videos show young people as they inhale alcohol in an effort to get drunk faster.

Broderic Allen of Dallas, 25, made headlines last week when he said “smoking” alcohol helped him lose weight by allowing him to ingest it without the empty calories. Allen, who started to inhale alcohol after seeing his friends try it, said he didn’t believe he was putting his health at risk.

“It’s just a label, when you say, ‘Smoking alcohol,’” Allen told ABC News. “I looked it up before I tried it and there have been no studies being done to determine if it’s bad for the lungs.”

But even without official studies, experts warn that “smoking” alcohol and similar alcohol-ingestion fads can be dangerous.

Dr. Brett Roth, medical director of the North Texas Poison Center in Dallas, said there have been a number of alcohol fads in the past decade, from “drinking” liquor through the eyeballs to alcohol enemas, or “butt chugging,” that started as a joke, but led to sobering consequences.

“There’s a novelty in danger that attracts people who want to do things a little differently or add a little excitement,” said Roth, adding that he knew of one death by poisoning from an alcohol enema. “Young people are attracted [to these fads] in that way.”

Roth concedes there is no definitive data to explain how breathing alcohol vapor is bad for your health, but he points out that the alcohol goes straight into the bloodstream through the lungs. The upshot is that alcohol travels directly to the brain instead of first passing through the stomach lining or liver, as in a drink.

“People need to realize this will knock them out very quickly,” Roth said. “It’s much different [than drinking alcohol.]"

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Nearly One-Third of Underage Drinking Deaths Are Traffic-Related

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly two-thirds of deaths due to underage drinking are not related to drunk driving, according to data analysis  released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

One of MADD's initiatives urges parents to talk to their children about alcohol, selecting April 21 as PowerTalk 21 day. In advance of this year's PowerTalk 21 day, MADD is releasing new analysis that shows just under one-third of underage drinking deaths are caused by drunk driving.

MADD estimates that 32 percent of all underage drinking deaths were caused by traffic accidents. According to the analysis, the remaining 68 percent included homicides, suicides and alcohol poisonings.

However, traffic fatalities still make up a higher percentage of underage drinking deaths than any other cause. Homicides accounted for 30 percent of the deaths in the study, suicides accounted for 14 percent, and alcohol poisonings made up 9 percent. The remaining 15 percent fell under the category of "other causes of death."

MADD advises parents to discuss alcohol consumption with their children, calling the conversation "sometimes difficult, but potentially lifesaving."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study: Light Drinking During Pregnancy Has No Effect on Children

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A study shows that drinking alcohol lightly during pregnancy may not have a negative effect on children.

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, evaluated over 10,000 children whose mothers were either non-drinkers or light drinkers - fewer than one to two drinks per week - during pregnancy. Researchers tracked the children's development from nine months to 7 years of age.

According to the study, light drinking during pregnancy did not have a significant impact on the children's cognitive or behavioral growth. The research did not differentiate between types of alcohol, or determine whether drinking during a particular portion of the pregnancy were more or less dangerous.

Researchers did point out that because women may handle alcohol differently, avoiding alcohol entirely is more safe.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


MIT Student Invents LED Ice Cubes to Track Alcohol Intake

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An MIT grad student is turning a bad party night into a product with potential.

It was fall semester last year when 23-year-old Dhairya Dand decided to hit up a party at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Several hours later, he found himself in the hospital.  He’d had an alcohol-induced blackout.

From the hospital room, Dand went back to MIT’s Media Lab, where he’s a researcher, and spent the next three weeks inventing Cheers -- alcohol-aware ice cubes that glow and groove to ambient music.  More importantly, the ice cubes change colors if you’ve had a few too many. 

When he presented the idea to his friends, they weren’t so cool on the idea.

“They joked around when I told them I was going to make these ice cubes in reflection to what I went through at the party,” said Dand.  “That’s normal.  With every new thing there is resistance.”

In an online video, Dand demonstrates how the cubes change as they respond to the amount of alcohol a person consumes.  An accelerometer keeps track of how often the glass is raised to someone’s lips; a timer helps estimate how intoxicated the person is.

The LED inside each cube will light up in green, yellow or red.  Green signals a first drink; yellow is a warning that your alcohol level is getting high.  Red is a warning to stop drinking -- you’ve probably had too much. 

Dand housed the electronics in waterproof cubes.  The cubes can even send a text message to friends if the person drinking needs help.

“The cubes talk to your phone to make the call.  They communicate over IR [infrared] with a custom removable IR receiver fitted on the smartphone’s audio jack,” said Dand.

Since he came out with his invention, Dand said, “Everyone wants a dozen now!”  And since he only spent $50 plus his own time creating it, Dand may have an idea that’s budget-friendly for grad students.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Colorado Teens to Drink with Parental Supervision?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The state of Colorado will shift its focus away from recently legalized marijuana and toward underage drinking…with supervision, that is. Republican Senator Greg Brophy from Wray, Colo., hopes to propose a new law that would allow 18-year-olds to drink alcohol at bars and restaurants with parental supervision.

Brophy told ABC News that the bill is almost finalized and is in drafting but it should be presented in the next few days.

Brophy told ABC News that he thought that 18-year-olds should have this right because alcohol is a legal substance that they would be consuming legally in a mere three years anyway. "It would be a good idea for young adults to learn about responsible use of this product with responsible adults."

When asked why 18 was the chosen age, Brophy said, "As a society we have arbitrarily chosen that age to convey upon people most of the rights and responsibilities of adulthood." He continues, "At 18 people are old enough to enter into binding contracts, they are old enough to vote, and to serve our country. Age 18 is the number that society has chosen, so I figured we would start there."

As of now, Colorado's drinking laws are fairly lenient. The Centennial State allows its under-agers to consume alcohol on private, non-alcohol-selling premises, with parental supervision, for educational purposes (such as culinary students), and for medical or religious purposes.

"Why is it appropriate for the state to deny responsible parents the opportunity to show their own adult children how to safely and responsibly consume adult beverages in public?" Brophy asked.

Under Brophy's proposal, parents would need to provide their ID as well as identification for their child. However, the server would ultimately have the say on whether alcohol would be served to the underage person.

Pete Meersman, CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, says that he is opposed to the legislation: "It puts all the burden of making the decisions of who can and can't be served onto our servers and our operators."

Meersman continues, "We can have our license suspended or revoked if there is an issue with serving someone under 21 years of age."

The concern of the Colorado Restaurant Association is that they have no real way of discerning between a parental relationship. Meersman mentions the situations of young married couples where one partner is 21 and the other is not and he discusses complications dealing with civil unions and couples/families who do not share the same last name.

"We have no way of telling who is legitimate and who is not," Meersman says.

"If the bill passes, which we are opposed to, we will advise our members to not serve anyone who is under 21." Meersman continues, "We are not going to take any chances on losing our license and the liabilities will ultimately rest on the servers and on the restaurants."

If the legislation passes, Colorado would not be alone in their quest for consented alcohol consumption for young adults. Eleven states -- Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming-- allow the consumption of alcohol for 18-year-olds on alcohol-selling premises such as restaurants and bars with parental approval.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Alcohol, Caffeine May Be Risky New Year's Mix

John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you're thinking about using energy drinks to stay up into the wee hours to welcome in the New Year, take caution: the whopping caffeine dose and other additives in those drinks may be more harmful than you think.

"Unintentional caffeine overdoses have resulted in serious illness and rare deaths from caffeine poisoning," says Dr. Kent A. Sepkowitz, a physician at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York, in an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  "Caffeine poisoning has only recently been characterized."

Considered "dietary supplements" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, energy drinks do not have to conform to the same regulations as traditional caffeinated sodas or over-the-counter caffeine pills. 

The same additives that give energy drinks their special status may also interfere with the body's ability to metabolize caffeine.  This could lead to increased or prolonged levels of caffeine in the blood.

Alcohol can also be very dangerous when added to the equation, experts say.  Very little is known about the combined effect of alcohol mixed with energy drinks -- or AMED, for short.  These include cocktails mixed at bars -- like the popular RBV, or Red Bull and vodka -- and alcohol and energy drinks consumed separately but within the same night. 

Premixed caffeinated alcoholic drinks (like the original Four Loko and Sparks) were essentially banned by the FDA in 2010.

The current theory is that the high dose of caffeine in energy drinks offsets the sedating effect of alcohol, making your brain think you're less drunk than your body feels.  This disconnected and inebriated version of you might be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drunken driving or sexual assault.  The masked intoxication may also lead people to drink more than they would normally.

However, there is very little evidence to support these theories.  Studies show that compared to the usual alcohol drinker, people who drink AMED are more likely to leave the bar drunk, try to drive drunk or engage in other risky behavior. 

In another JAMA editorial, lead author Jonathan Howland at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Boston University said that AMED consumers may be "inherently more prone to risk-taking behaviors.  It is possible that personality traits such as impulsivity and sensation seeking cause AMED consumption, rather than AMED causing risky behavior."

Although the studies on these products are inconclusive, 2012 has not been a good year for energy drinks.

"The swift change in public perception of energy drinks from harmless mild stimulant to lethal, unregulated drug is unprecedented," said Sepkowitz in his editorial.

After reports of illness, injury and death after consuming energy drinks, the FDA reinvigorated its investigation of these products.  Even the Air Force is concerned, launching a survey of 12 bases to better understand energy drink use.

Recently, the FDA reported that Monster energy drink may have been involved in five deaths.  Additionally, the 5-Hour Energy drink, a popular energy shot loaded with caffeine, may have played a part in 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations over the past four years.

According to Sepkowitz, "To reach the possibly lethal dose of 3 grams of caffeine, a person would need to ingest at least 12 of the highly caffeinated energy drinks within a few hours."

Despite the bad publicity, energy drink makers will not likely lose their buzz -- sales of energy drinks in the U.S. were $9 billion in 2011.  Six percent of young American men and 45 percent of U.S. troops overseas consume energy drinks daily.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Year, New Headache? Hangover Cures and Myths

Steve Mason/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After the Times Square ball drops on New Year’s Eve and copious amounts of champagne get toasted and drunk, many might find themselves forgetting more ”auld acquaintances” than they intended and waking up to 2013 with a vicious hangover.

A hangover is essentially a build-up of acetaldehyde, a toxin in the liver.  When one overdoes it on the booze, the liver can’t produce enough glutathione, a compound that contains the amino acid L-cysteine, to combat it.  Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde into water and carbon dioxide, which is then flushed out of the body as urine.

While nothing has been shown scientifically to “cure” a hangover, Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief medical editor, offered these tips to help nurse the pain:

  • Drink plenty of water.  Alcohol is quite dehydrating.
  • If you have a headache, take aspirin or ibuprofen the next morning, not acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Acetaminophen is processed by your liver that has just taken a hit from your overdrinking.
  • Go to bed.  Most hangovers are over after eight to 24 hours.

Other suggestions from past contributors to ABC News include how to avoid a hangover while still slugging back the brewskies, and what to do if the hangover arrives anyway:

While You’re Boozing:

1. Sip Slowly

If you drink your alcohol slowly instead of guzzling it down, doctors say it helps give the stomach a fighting chance to absorb the toxins so your body isn’t assaulted with booze.

2. Eat Fatty Foods

Food products with a lot of fat in them, such as chips, can help slow down the absorption of alcohol.

3. Avoid Carbonated Drinks

Doctors say carbonation can increase the absorption of alcohol, so put down the rum and Coke.

The Morning After:

1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

Time will heal all wounds.

2. Flush Your System

When you are dehydrated, your body is depleted of potassium and sodium, which is why you have that achy “hit by a dump truck” feeling the next morning.  Doctors say try to replenish your body with lots of fluids.  Drink water or drinks that are heavy in electrolytes, such as sports drinks or coconut water.

3. Be Leery of Caffeine

Caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic, which can further dehydrate your body after drinking, making the headache much worse, so doctors recommend extra water if you’re going to reach for a cup of coffee, tea or an energy drink.

But people who regularly drink minimal amounts of caffeine might find it helps soothe their headache.  While the causes of a hangover aren’t completely understood, a leading theory for the pounding headache is that alcohol dilates blood vessels in the brain and caffeine constricts the blood vessels, which might bring relief to some people.

4. Avoid the ‘Hair of the Dog’

While that Bloody Mary or extra pint of beer with breakfast the next morning sounds like a rallying move, doctors say more alcohol means more dehydration, meaning more hangover hurting.  Even if you don’t feel the pain now, you will later.

5. Have a Snack

According to the Mayo Clinic, bland foods, such as toast and crackers, can help boost blood sugar and settle your stomach.  Eating chicken noodle or bouillon soups, which are loaded with sodium and potassium, can help make you feel better.

Foods and drinks that contain fructose, such as honey, apples, berries or fruit juice, as well as vitamin C and B can also help burn off alcohol.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alcohol Allergies Can Cause Sneezing, Flushing, Headache

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alcohol allergies are possible at any age, but they are not common, affecting less than 5 percent of all people who suffer from food allergies, according to Dr. Clifford Bassett, clinical assistant professor in the division of infectious disease and immunology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

"You can get wheezing and asthma symptoms or hives," said Bassett.  "Those who already suffer from asthma seem to be more vulnerable."

Wine contains proteins from grapes, bacteria and yeast, as well as sulfites and other organic compounds.  Other studies have found that egg whites and gelatin are often used in the filtration processing of wine.

"It's something you don't think of," said Bassett.

Other symptoms can be a flushed or tickling face or a sense of warmth.  Others can get a runny rose or headaches.

Yeast and molds used in brewing beer from barley can cause chemical reactions that produce histamines and tyramines.  Tyramines are amino acid products that are associated with headaches and hypertension.  Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound involved in immune or allergic responses.

A protein on the skin of a grape -- mostly those in red wines -- can contribute to symptoms in those who already have allergies, according to a German study.

People can also have an oral allergy syndrome -- a reaction to fresh fruit and vegetables that may be used as a garnish or a mixer in a cocktail, according to Bassett.  Hazelnut or almond in liquor can also be a problem for those with an allergy to nuts.

Alcohol can also exacerbate existing allergies.  In one 2005 Swedish study, those with asthma, bronchitis and hay fever were more apt to sneeze, get a runny nose or have "lower-airway symptoms" after a drink, especially women.  Wine -- both red and white -- were often the worst offenders.

In 2008, a Danish study of thousands of women found that two glasses of wine a day can double the risk for allergy symptoms, according to an article published in the journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

Some people have an intolerance to the alcohol itself, according to Bassett.  They can "feel sick" or even experience a migraine.

Those of Irish and Scottish descent -- about 1 percent of the population -- are prone to celiac disease, an allergy to gluten in wheat, barley and rye.  They may find whisky and bourbon intolerable.

"Most sake is fine," said Bassett.  "That's made from rice."

Ethnicity can make a difference.  Asians, particularly those of Chinese, Japanese or Korean descent, can experience a "flush syndrome" when drinking alcohol because of troubles with digestion, according to Bassett.

Bassett said those who have difficulty with alcohol should work with an allergist to minimize risk.

"Nonalcoholic beer is safer for the holidays," said Bassett.  "Nonalcoholic drinks can be made to accommodate and keep people healthy and happy at the same time."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Homemade Eggnog Can Kill Salmonella with Booze

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What could be more festive than a dozen raw eggs, a quart of rum and a pint of bourbon getting friendly in a pot in the fridge for six weeks?

Conventional wisdom would suggest eggnog should bring about a spike in salmonella cases every December, but it doesn't happen. Call it a holiday miracle -- or just call it science.

"Actually, it happens very, very, very, very infrequently," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. "We do not record an increase in salmonellosis due to eggnog. Otherwise, there would be a CDC health advisory."

Unlike raw chicken, store-bought eggs rarely have salmonella on their shells because they are cleaned before they're packaged, Schaffner said. On the rare occasion that the salmonella bacteria enters an egg, it's likely one of the 800 salmonella species that needs to be present in large quantities to make someone sick. (On the other hand, up to 20 percent of store-bought chicken contains salmonella, and they have a lot more diarrhea-causing bacteria than eggs do, Schaffner said.)

At Rockefeller University, the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology has been making a raw-eggs-and-alcohol eggnog for at least 60 years. It calls for leaving the egg, sugar, cream, spices and alcohol mixture in the fridge for about six weeks. Yes, really.

"I've been here almost 50 years, and we've made it every year," said professor and lab head Vincent Fischetti. "We usually make it about a week or so before Thanksgiving, sip it to cheer Thanksgiving, and finish it at the Christmas party."

The recipe comes from Dr. Rebecca Lancefield, a microbiologist who was born in 1895, and Fischetti says it may have been a recipe from her family. Although the original recipe calls for leaving the mixture in the refrigerator at least overnight, it says it will be "better" after three or four weeks. Fischetti said the added time makes it smoother.

A few years ago, Fischetti's lab made an extra batch – for the sake of science – spiked with an extra ingredient: salmonella. Within the first five days of sitting in the cold with the alcohol, the batch still tested positive for salmonella, but it was sterile not long after, Fischetti said. They even tried to culture the aged eggnog on a petri dish, but no bacteria would grow on it.

"There's enough alcohol in there to kill a horse," he said, laughing. "It's a standard recipe. We're not spiking it any more than it should be."

Indeed, raw eggs and alcohol are a long-standing winter tradition, said Dale DeGroff, the legendary bartender made famous for his gourmet cocktails at New York's Rainbow Room during the 1980s.

"Nogs go back to merry old England," DeGroff said. "The idea of mixing egg with beer or rum and spices is a very old world thing."

Although the original varieties were hot drinks involving beer and raw eggs, chilled eggnog became popular in Baltimore in the mid-19th century, DeGroff said. In New York, Tom and Jerrys were popular egg drinks that involved making a "batter" of raw eggs, ground clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum and cream, DeGroff said. The batter then went into a big crockery bowl over ice, and when someone ordered the drink, the bartenders would dollop a tablespoon of batter into a mug and add brandy, hot water and milk.

In the 1950s, Degroff's Uncle Angelo submitted his homemade eggnog recipe to a Four Roses Whiskey contest and won. The six-egg recipe appeared on whiskey bottles for years, he said.

Today, popular drinks that involve raw, emulsified eggs include traditional flips, sours and daiquiris. In many cities, restaurants are required to note that food contains raw egg and carries a risk of salmonella.

Food safety expert Dave Arnold said it's true that salmonella does not grow in refrigerator temperatures or in 5 percent alcohol or more, but that doesn't mean the bacteria is gone.

"The issue isn't growth, it's how long is salmonella that's already there [taking] to die," said Arnold, the directory of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center, which has campuses in New York, California and Italy.

Although the risk of getting salmonella from a cocktail is small, the customer should be able to make his or her own decision about taking it on.

"In my bar, if I was going to serve eggnog – even if I had aged it in the fridge and even if I knew for certain it had zero chance of giving salmonella to a customer -- I would still put a label for raw eggs. Why? Because," he said. "Why would I open myself to that risk?"

Fischetti sent along his eggnog recipe, but if you'd rather avoid eggs and alcohol completely, here's a recipe for you.

Original Dr. Rebecca Lancefield recipe:

1 dozen eggs 1 quart heavy cream 1 quart light Cream 1 quart bourbon 1 pint rum nutmeg (1/3 3/4 box) sugar to taste (1/2 to 3/4 Lb)

Modifications: (This is the one Fischetti uses.) 1 quart rum 1 pint bourbon

1. Beat eggs, add bourbon and rum slowly with stirring to prevent precipitation of egg proteins. 2. Add the light cream with mixing using a large spoon. Add the sugar to taste with mixing (about ½-1 pound / batch ) then nutmeg last. 3. Beat heavy cream separately 'till peaks and add to the egg/bourbon/rum - mix into rest. 4. Leave standing at least overnight in refrigerator. Better after 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alcohol Calories Nearly Equal Soda's for US Adults

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The holiday season is generally a time we let ourselves overdo it a bit when it comes to drinking alcohol. But did you ever wonder how many calories in your diet come from booze?
You might be surprised.
On a typical day, one-third of men and 18 percent of women consume calories from alcoholic beverages. Now a study from the National Health and Nutrition Survey finds that American adults get almost as many empty calories from alcohol as they do from soft drinks.
Soda and other sweetened beverages are already the heavies in campaigns against obesity. Nearly 20 percent of men and six percent of women take in about 300 calories per day from alcohol.

  • two or more 12-ounce beers
  • more than two and a half glasses of wine, or
  • more than 4.5 ounces of liquor.

Furthermore, men take in more calories from alcohol than women -- and younger adults more than older adults. And beer is the biggest single source of alcoholic calories in men.
So when someone asks "who's counting?" -- Remember to keep track of calories, not just drinks.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio