Entries in Alcohol (77)


New Study Finds Americans Drink Too Many Empty Calories 

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to empty calories, alcohol plays a large part for many Americans. A new CDC study finds alcoholic drinks make up about five per cent of the calories American adults consume.

The study asked more than 11,000 U.S. adults what they ate and drank over the previous 24 hours. From 2007-2010, nearly 20 per cent of men and 6 per cent of women took in about 300 calories a day from alcoholic beverages -- about 16 per cent of their daily calories -- more than recommended. Women from the highest income level consumed a higher average amount of calories from alcohol.

"Obesity is a big problem in this country," said ABC News Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton, "and whether you're putting on those pounds from food or drinks,  you have to look at the math at the end of the day and these numbers tell a very grim picture."

"What is showed is that people were getting as many calories by consuming alcohol beverages as they did from sweetened beverages like soda, juice, etcetera," she continued.

Results also showed that on any given day, about one-third of men and one-fifth of women consumed calories from beer, wine or liquor.

"All calories matter and for anyone dealing with weight gain or obesity or who's at high risk for certain types of cancers especially breast cancer -- they should absolutely limit their alcohol consumption and women need to be very very aware of that," said Ashton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Weight-Loss Surgery Tied to Substance Abuse

Tom Morello/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Weight-loss surgery can help people who are obese ditch their unhealthy relationships with food.  But a new study suggests these patients sometimes enter a rebound relationship with something else -- alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

The survey-based study of 155 bariatric surgery patients found a 50 percent rise in the frequency of substance abuse two years after the procedure.

“Many people who undergo bariatric surgery struggle with eating in response to different emotional cues,” said Alexis Conason of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, lead author of the study published Monday in the Archives of Surgery.  “I [wondered] what happened afterward.  If they are no longer able to cope with their emotions through eating … do they turn to something like drugs or alcohol to serve the purpose that food did originally.”

Conason tested the theory of symptom substitution -- the swapping of one habit for another.  Patients who drank and smoked before surgery reported more drinking and smoking two years after.  And while one in 25 patients reported using recreational drugs before the procedure, one in eight said they used them two years later.  But Conason stressed that much more research is needed.

“The emerging body of literature [on this] is in its infancy,” she said, stressing that her study focused on frequency of substance use but not on the quantity of substances consumed or whether doing so caused problems for either the patients or their family members.  ”We have a small sample size, so it’s going to be important to see how this is replicated with larger samples.  We need to [better understand] the problematic nature of the substance use … the reasons why.”

Some experts think the uptick in substance use might be related to social behaviors.

“What this study may be showing is that morbidly obese people are socially isolated,” said Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, chief of bariatric surgery division in the department of surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center.  “After surgery, they not only become physically healthy but mentally healthy and now become more social.  They go out on dates and go to parties which may involve a social alcoholic drink.”

The frequency of alcohol use among bariatric patients prior to surgery was very low, Ren-Fielding added.

“Perhaps after surgery, the frequency of alcohol use in bariatric patients normalizes to approach the frequency of alcohol consumption in the lean population,” she said.

The rise in substance abuse over two years followed an initial decline that Conason attributes to strict instructions for the recovery period after surgery.  She said patients should be followed closely to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight and adjusting well to their new bodies, emotions and relationships.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nitrogen Cocktail Explodes in Teen, Stirring Up Debate

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Celebrity chefs, master mixologists and medical experts from around the world are steamed up about a report that a British teenager had a portion of her perforated stomach removed after ingesting liquid nitrogen in a trendy cocktail.

Gaby Scanlan was celebrating her 18th birthday at a Lancaster bar in Northern England when she became "breathless" and experienced severe stomach pain after drinking a Jagermeister digestif made with liquid nitrogen, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

After undergoing a gastrectomy to save her life, Scanlan is in serious but stable condition, according to Lancaster police.

Lancaster Royal Hospital, where the teen was treated, did not comment on the case out of "respect" for the family.  But others held nothing back.

"Anything that is the least bit hazardous does not belong in the bar," said Ray Foley, editor of Bartending Magazine.  "People are getting out of hand with these products to show off and not take care of their clients.  This nitrogen cocktail; it's ridiculous."

Liquid nitrogen is about minus-321 degrees Fahrenheit and, if not used properly, can cause permanent frostbite or cryogenic burns.  It is used primarily to flash-freeze food or to make ice cream.  It also turns fresh herbs to powder and can freeze alcohol.

But in today's scene, mad scientists of mixology use it for dramatic effect to uber-chill glasses so that when served, the cocktail emits a steamy vapor.

Bartenders have to be trained and take the "utmost care," according to Sven Almenning, managing director of the Speakeasy Group in Australia, whose staff is well-trained in the art.

"A guest should never be served a drink where the nitrogen still is in liquid form, as this means it will turn into gas inside the person's body," he said.  "This is akin to trying to consume an open flame from a lit Blazer cocktail."

Medical experts, who use liquid nitrogen to freeze warts and in cryosurgery, agreed.

"It's a great way to kill tissue instantaneously," said Dr. Corey Slovis, chairman of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

"I imagine what happened was it completely devitalized the tissues and froze it to the point where the gastric acid perforated the stomach," said Slovis, who did not treat Scanlan.  "It would not be flexible tissue.  It would be hard frozen."

Others agree that it's risky business.

"This is a dangerous practice," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, particularly as Halloween approaches and young people attempt daring stunts.

The result can cause frostbite-like burns to the upper airway and throat, as well as the stomach.  Breathing can also be compromised.

But celebrities in the fine art of mixology say that when used properly by trained professionals, liquid nitrogen is safe and popular with clients.

"It's mesmerizing," said Dave Arnold, head of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute and partner in charge of cocktails at the trendy Booker and Dax bar at Momofuko in New York City.

"It's like so many things in life.  If it is used improperly, there are hazards," he said.  "A deep-fryer also has dangers when people are using it without training."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Red Wine Minus the Alcohol Can Lower Blood Pressure

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wine lovers, get ready for a buzz kill.  A new study has found that drinking two glasses of red wine a day can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease -- but only if the alcohol has been removed.

Writing in the journal Circulation Research, Spanish investigators reported on 67 men with several cardiovascular risk factors or diabetes.  The men spent three periods of four weeks each, enjoying either non-alcoholic red wine, red wine, or gin with their meals, switching to a different beverage at the end of every phase.

During the month they indulged in regular red wine or gin, the men's blood pressures showed little or no change.  But there was a drop in their blood pressure when they drank the non-alcoholic wine.  The dip in pressure was modest -- just a few points -- but it translated into a 14 percent reduced risk for coronary heart disease and a 20 percent decrease in risk for strokes.

Polyphenols are the antioxidant compounds in red wine thought to bestow its heart-healthy benefits, including reduced blood pressure.  However, previous studies haven't found that drinking red wine corresponds to a drop in blood pressure.  Just last year, a Dutch study reported that drinking a dairy beverage infused with polyphenols didn't budge the blood pressures in those with mild hypertension.

Why would removing the alcohol from the wine improve pressure in this particular study?  The authors speculate that the virgin wine increased nitric oxide in the bloodstream, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels.

Drinking alcoholic red wine raised nitric oxide slightly and gin, not at all.  According to Dr. Franz Messerli, a cardiologist at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York., this could mean that alcohol cancels out some of the good done by the antioxidants.

"Since alcohol in larger doses narrows the blood vessels, it can override the beneficial relaxation of the vessels by the polyphenols in the red wine," he said.

Dr. Malissa Wood, a cardiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center in Boston, said she thinks there could be other reasons why the nonalcoholic wine lowered blood pressure but they weren't clearly laid out in the study.

"Maybe it's related to the type of grape and process used to make the wine -- the authors didn't specify whether or not all the wines were made from the same grapes using the same techniques.  It's also possible that the process for removal of alcohol leads to formation of another potentially beneficial compound or increases the content of antioxidants," she said.

The study had additional limitations that should be considered as well.  For one thing, both the researchers and the men knew what each glass contained.  Perhaps this influenced them in some way.  The subjects also didn't do a "washout" period before switching drinks so their blood pressures didn't get a chance to reset to their baseline.

"There could be a carry-over effect between treatments that was cumulative with time, resulting in lower blood pressure as the trial continued in time," said Donna Arnett, the current president of the American Heart Association and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Public Health in Birmingham.

Including a group of teetotalers would have served as a useful comparison, Arnett said.  And, he said, the findings might not hold for women or healthy individuals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twin Study Shows Moisturizing, Breast Feeding Stall Breast Aging

James Woodson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Breast feeding, daily moisturizing and hormone replacement therapy can make a woman's breasts appear more beautiful, but smoking, drinking alcohol and having multiple pregnancies can take an aesthetic toll, according to researchers.

A study of identical twins published Tuesday in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, titled "Determinants of Breast Appearance and Aging in Twins," shows environmental factors play a key role in how a woman's breasts age.

Other factors like higher body mass index (BMI) and larger bra and cup sizes also contribute to accelerated breast aging, according to the study.

An estimated 316,848 women had breast augmentations and 127,054 had breast lifts performed in 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Now, women can identify lifestyle behaviors that can slow the aging process to avoid surgical intervention, according to the study, which was funded by a grant from the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation.

For the last three years, plastic surgeon Hooman T. Soltanian of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, studied 161 pairs of twins.

"It's very rare that both twins have been through the same exact environmental factors throughout life," he said.  "The idea was that they have the same [breasts] from a genetic standpoint.  If we see a difference, it's more likely to be environmental factors."

Soltanian collected data from consenting women between the ages of 25 and 74 at the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsberg, Ohio.  The average age of the study's participants was 45.5 years old.

"The twins come from all over the country for a weekend to have fun and celebrate," he said.  "We have been using that opportunity to study their breasts.  It's not a longitudinal study, but a cross-sectional study."

The study had two parts.  First, each set of twins was given a questionnaire on lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, number of pregnancies, use of a bra, stress at work, sports, hormone replacement therapy, moisturizing and exposure to the sun.  Each twin answered independently.

Then, photos of the twins' breasts were taken "in a secluded area by professionals."  Those photos were "subjectively evaluated by independent reviewers."

Soltanian acknowledged there is "no objective measurement" for what makes a breast "beautiful."  But researchers looked for skin tone, droopiness, shape and areola size.

Moisturizing seemed an "obvious" advantage on a breast's appearance, showing fewer wrinkles, according to Soltanian.  

Those who received hormone replacement therapy after menopause had more attractive breast shape, size, projection, areolar shape and areolar size.

The study seemed to refute myths about the negative effects of nursing a baby, findings that even surprised Soltanian.  Even though the size and shape of the areola had suffered, the skin quality was better in women who breast fed.

"All these twins did not breast-feed without being pregnant and pregnancy has a negative effect on breast appearance," he said.  "My explanation is that women who breast fed have a different hormonal milieu -- sort of like internal hormone replacement.  So even though those were disadvantages, they gained some benefit."

Soltanian, who does reconstructive surgeries for women after breast cancer, said this twin research could be expanded to longitudinal studies that look for environmental influences when one twin has cancer and the other doesn't.

As for the study's importance, he said, "It's obvious to me that breast appearance and breast health as a whole are a major part of female health."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marriage Means More Drinking for Women, Less for Men

Cultura/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- A study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association on Saturday found that married women drink more than previously married women, but married men drink less than previously married men.

Additionally, several women in the study said they did not drink alcohol at all until they met or married their husbands.

Sociological and psychological experts not involved with the research said the findings illustrate how individual behaviors tend to adjust in order to match those of people with whom they spend a great deal of time.

“People tend to do what others in the same flock do, if you spend more time with individuals that have a higher incidence of using drugs or alcohol you will develop similar habits,” said Richard Ager, associate professor at the Tulane School of Social Work in New Orleans. “People tend to engage in the behaviors of people they surround themselves with.”

Since single men tend to drink more than their single female counterparts, the idea that both sides converge toward an average level of drinking seems understandable.

“It appears that amongst couples, males and females gravitate toward a mutual midpoint with respect to alcohol use,” said Scott M. Bea, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, who also was not involved with the study. “That is, husbands drink a bit less and wives drink a bit more than their unmarried counterparts.”

But others said the findings could hint at something more deeply entwined with the marital relationship.

“The study findings appear to suggest that everyone’s alcohol use is, to some degree, related to the extent of stress in their lives,” Don R. Catherall, professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.  “Long-term married women may have some additional stressors that [previously married] women do not and apparently derive less stress relief from their marital relationships than do men.”

For men, however, having a wife may serve as a stress-relieving substitute for that extra beer or scotch.

“Married males may experience their wives as sources of tension reduction,” Bea said. “There are studies that suggest that married males are happier than their unmarried counterparts.”

Despite the couples approaching a common drinking ground, on average men still drank more than women in every relationship category.

The study also looked into how drinking habits are affected when marriages end. The researchers found that while divorce causes men to drink more, women actually tend to go back to drinking less. Possible explanations for this, according to the researchers, could be that a husband’s heavy drinking may put couples at a higher risk of divorce. Another possibility is that, for men at least, the stress of the divorce may have prompted increased drinking.

Meanwhile, in the study participant interviews, an overwhelming majority of women said that either divorce depressed and turned them away from alcohol, or they drank less because they were no longer around their husbands drinking.

Despite this, women that were long-term divorced and recently divorced reported significantly more drinking-related problems than long-term married women. And while the research thus far is not sufficient to draw a direct cause-and-effect relationship between drinking-related problems and rates of divorce, it may help physicians better recognize risk factors for problem drinking that lurk within our social lives.

“As a culture, we might work toward educating individuals that are feeling isolated about their relative proneness to alcohol-related problems or overuse,” Bea said. “Helping these individuals develop support networks and other methods of coping might be useful interventions that may reduce the overuse of alcohol and, ultimately, alcohol-related difficulties.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Binge Drinking College Students Report Being Happier

Hemera/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The negative effects of binge drinking are well-known, which makes the findings of new research released on Monday linking binge drinking and reported happiness in college students troubling to many health experts.

The survey of 1,595 undergraduate students revealed binge drinking students report being happier than their non-binge drinking peers.  The results were released Monday morning at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver.

Specifically, the survey revealed that happiness was directly related to “status” -- with wealthy, white, male, heterosexual and/or Greek-affiliated students being happier than “lower status” students.

However, in “lower status” students -- in other words, less wealthy, female, non-white, homosexual, and/or non-Greek affiliated students -- those who binge drink report levels of social satisfaction that are comparable to their high status counterparts.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four drinks per session for females and consuming more than five drinks per session for males.

“Binge drinking is a symbolic proxy for higher social status in college and is correspondingly related to greater social satisfaction,” writes Carolyn Hsu, lead author on the study and chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University.

In other words, binge drinking to “fit in” may actually lead to increased happiness -- a phenomenon that does not appear to have gone unnoticed by the alcohol industry.

“The insight that people drink to attain social status is not [new],” says David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  “Alcohol marketers intentionally market social aspirations -- for example, an ad for Johnnie Walker from the 1990s had the bottle suspended from wires with other objects floating around it, like a mobile -- and the tag-line was ‘Upwardly mobile.’”

While upward mobility through binge drinking may help lower status students attain happiness, drinking may also be necessary to help higher status students maintain happiness.  Another finding in the study is that high status students who do not binge drink report lower levels of social satisfaction than their binge drinking, high status peers.

“Binge drinking may also be a prerequisite for receiving the full benefits of high status group membership,” writes Hsu.

The association between binge drinking and social happiness among both high- and low-status students is a link that doctors find treacherous.

“I find the overall information to be very sad,” says Dr. Edwin Salsitz, chair of the Education and Program Committee of the New York Society of Addiction Medicine.  “Binge drinking is dangerous on many different levels, yet these students seem to derive benefits from this behavior.”

Other experts suggest these findings must be interpreted with caution.

“Since [the study] is descriptive and not experimental, the two end points may not be linked,” says Dr. Fulton T. Crews, director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  “It is possible drinking reflects satisfaction for some, [but] changes mood, creating dissatisfaction for others.”

Other doctors suggest that the associations may not be causal at all -- in other words, happier students and binge drinking might just happen to appear together, without one influencing the other.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


1 in 13 Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Older and more educated women are more likely to drink alcohol during pregnancy, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Friday.

About one in 13 women drink while pregnant, according to the study, and out of those women, one in four reportedly binge drink.

The researchers examined more than 340,000 self-reported surveys that were a part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of data from women between the ages of 18 and 44.

More than 7 percent of pregnant women in the study reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with 51 percent of women who were not pregnant.

Women in the study between the ages of 35 and 44 reported the highest amount of drinking while pregnant, at 14 percent.

U.S. public health officials and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourage women from consuming alcohol while pregnant because of its potential to harm the baby’s physical, emotional and cognitive development.

“Pregnant and nonpregnant women of childbearing age who misuse alcohol might benefit from public health interventions…such as increased alcohol excise taxes and limiting alcohol outlet density,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs of the March of Dimes, said the numbers were “troubling.”

While some past studies have reported that light drinking while pregnant does not harm the baby, Katz said women should stay away from alcohol completely during those nine months.

“We know that alcohol is very seriously damaging,” said Katz. “We don’t know if there is any safe level of drinking, but that’s a determination that will never be made."

“It’s ludicrous to suggest that one should even look for a safe level of alcohol while pregnant,” he continued. “There is a danger that will always be there with alcohol. Unlike some other risks during pregnancy that are unavoidable, this one is. It is fully controllable and it is not such an enormous effort not to drink.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Elderly Binge Drinkers Face Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) -- Women have been told for years that a glass of wine a day could actually improve their health, because it's good for the heart and brain. But researchers in San Francisco warned Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Canada that elderly women who drink moderately could be at increased risk for decline in brain function.

The researchers said that adults older than 65 who reported heavy drinking at least twice each month more than doubled their likelihood to suffer loss of memory and brain function. Consuming four or more alcoholic beverages at a time was considered in the study as heavy binge drinking.

So how much alcohol should a woman be drinking?
"As always, the key is moderation or one drink a day for women be it wine, beer or spirit. It lowers risk of heart disease and stroke.  And it helps protect your brain from mental decline," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor.

But, Dr. Besser cautions, "women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant shouldn't drink. And women at high risk for breast cancer should also think twice. Your risk goes up 10 percent if you have a daily drink. But otherwise, drink up -- a little."

Tina Hoang, the study's lead author and clinical research coordinator at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center explained why alcohol consumption in late-life may not be beneficial for cognitive function in older women.

"It may be that the brains of oldest old adults are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol, but it is also possible that factors associated with changing alcohol use related to coping or loss could be involved," Hoang said. "Clinicians should carefully assess their older patients for both how much they drink and any changes in patterns of alcohol use."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Billboard for Breathalyzer Beater Riles Residents

Billboard for Breathalyzer Equalizer is is riling residents. (ABC)(ATLANTA) -- An Atlanta billboard promoting a product to beat police breathalyzer tests is riling nearby residents.

The product, called the Breathalyzer Equalizer, promises to prevent false positive breathalyzer results by eliminating residual alcohol from the mouth.

"You can blow over the legal limit on a roadside police breathalyzer just by having a little Scope, Listerine, breath spray-type things in your mouth when you get stopped," company co-founder Ron Lloyd, a former state trooper, says in a YouTube demonstration, adding that the product "doesn't do anything to help someone who is truly intoxicated."

A few squirts of breath spray can bring a breathalyzer reading up to 0.181 percent -- more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent alcohol, according to Lloyd's video. But Breathalyzer Equalizer powder brings the reading down to 0.021 percent.

"All it does is improve the accuracy of roadside breath testing for responsible, sober, drinking drivers and prevent those types of people from being falsely accused of DUI," Lloyd says.

But residents of the Atlanta neighborhood below the Breathalyzer Equalizer billboard worry it could encourage people to drive under the influence, thinking they can get away with it.

"You are putting drunks on the road," said Barry Martin, an Atlanta resident and executive director of Georgia's Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in an interview with ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

Even though the billboard reads "Sober Drivers Only," and "Please Drink Responsibly," a martini glass embedded in the word "Breathalyzer" could give drinkers the wrong idea, said Martin.

"That false sense of hope could lead to an accident," he told WSB-TV. "That accident could kill somebody."

A spokesman for Breathalyzer Equalizer, Paul Broft, insists the product is not intended to promote drunk driving, but rather to protect people from life-ruining false positive breathalyzer tests.

"What we are doing is protecting lives and careers," Broft told WSB-TV. "There's absolutely nothing out there that will sober you up other than time."

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio