Entries in Alcohol (77)


Holiday Hangover: Alcohol Linked to SIDS Deaths

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- The New Year's Day hangover can be deadly for caregivers who have had a night of heavy drinking and awake to find a lifeless baby in the crib.

More than 2,500 babies a year die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and now researchers now say there may be an association between those deaths and alcohol.

A University of California study published this month in the journal Addiction found a 33-percent spike in SIDS deaths on Jan. 1.

Alcohol consumption is also at an all-time high during the holidays.

The study, conducted by sociologist David Phillips, concluded that alcohol was a risk factor for SIDS, although it is unclear whether alcohol is an independent risk or occurs only in conjunction with other known risks, such as co-sleeping with the baby.

It concludes that alcohol "impairs parental capacity" and therefore can put a child at risk.

Scientists took into account the normal increase in SIDS deaths that are reported during the winter months, probably because of colds and respiratory infections, as well as using coverings in the crib for warmth.

The study looked at 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006 and also tracked alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents among the general population. Both were at an all-time high on New Year's Day.

In addition, the study showed another rise in SIDS deaths right after April 20, a day celebrated by pot smokers and after July 4, also a time of heavy alcohol use. Babies of mothers who drink are also twice as likely to die of SIDS, according to the study.

"It's logical that when women are inebriated the attentiveness to the child is going to be reduced and the likelihood of getting a child in the situation where a parent puts them at risk would be there," said Dr. Michael Malloy, a neonatologist at University of Texas Medical Branch.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Joose, Four Loko to Be Pulled from Shelves by Mid-December

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- Warnings from the Food and Drug Administration to the manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages, like the popular and much criticized Four Loko, have not fallen on deaf ears.

The FDA Wednesday announced that “significant progress” has been made after four manufacturers were warned that the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages was not approved.

Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, has advised the FDA that it has stopped shipments of its products and expects to have them off store shelves by Dec. 13.
The maker of another highly popular drink, Joose, expects to have its products off of shelves on the same day.  United Brands has also informed the FDA that it no longer markets Max, another caffeinated alcoholic beverage.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


FDA Declares Four Loko, Similar Beverages Unsafe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WABC-TV New York(WASHINGTON) -- In an expected move, the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday launched a crackdown on popular alcoholic caffeinated drinks such as Four Loko, declaring the products unsafe.

The FDA has notified four companies marketing the popular drinks that adding caffeine to alcohol was unsafe and unapproved.  The FDA stated in letters to the companies that if they do not take steps within 15 days to halt sales of the products, the regulatory agency would obtain a court order to bar them.

In a written statement, Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, declared the agency “does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is generally recognized as safe, which is the legal standard.  To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

The FDA announcement came one day after Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, announced it was removing caffeine and two other ingredients from the product.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Michigan First State to Ban 'Four Loko' Drink, Others May Follow

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More states may follow Michigan's lead in banning the popular alcoholic energy drink Four Loko after reports that dozens of college students have been hospitalized after drinking too much Four Loko. Michigan's liquor control commission banned the retail sale of all alcoholic energy drinks statewide, including Four Loko, saying the drinks "present a threat to the public health and safety."

Commonly known among college students as "blackout in a can," one can of the fruity liquor malt combines 12 percent alcohol with a kick of caffeine sized to an average cup of coffee. The contrasting effects of consuming alcohol and stimulants conceal the effects of the alcohol.

Many college campuses sent notices to students warning about the potential dangers of alcoholic energy drinks, and some campuses, such as the University of Rhode Island, have banned the drink. But now, advocates in New York and Oregon are pushing for a statewide sales ban.

The Food and Drug Administration is already investigating caffeinated alcoholic drinks, including Four Loko, and is asking for justification for putting caffeine in the beverages. Attorneys general in New York and New Jersey have also called for federal investigations following incidents involving college students in those states.

The Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania (MBDA) Tuesday also asked its members statewide to stop sale of and remove Four Loko from store shelves due to health and safety concerns.

“Until the safety questions and other concerns about Four Loko are resolved, MBDA is asking its members not to sell this item," David Shipula, MBDA President, wrote in a letter to more than 600 beer distributors. "We hope all other licensee trade associations will carefully consider this issue and advise their members also to halt sales."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Alcohol to Be Deadliest Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Alcohol is more harmful than illegal substances like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana, according to a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

After evaluating 20 drugs, weighing in on how addictive the drugs are, how they harm the human body both physically and mentally, and the societal impact they have, researchers found that alcohol was the most dangerous substance overall.

Using these criteria, researchers ranked the harmfulness of each drug, giving alcohol a score of 72 out of a possible 100.  Heroin and crack cocaine followed with a score of 55 and 54, respectively.

The study, funded by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, found that heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth are the most deadliest to individual users.  But when social effects are taken into consideration, alcohol proved to be the most harmful overall to both users and the public, followed by heroin and crack cocaine.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Alcohol-Caffeine Drinks Pose Health Risk to College-Age Population

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Concern over a controversial beverage concoction of caffeine and booze, which some experts say may not even be legal, could be posing a new health threat for the drinks' biggest fans: college-age people.

The drinks, with names like Joose, Torque and Four Loko, come in large cans covered with colorful graphics that experts and some students say make the alcoholic beverages hard to tell apart from non-alcoholic ones.  The drinks sell for about three dollars each.

Four Loko comes in a 23.5 ounce can that contains 2.82 ounces of alcohol, or 12 percent.  Experts say you'd have to drink almost six cans of Bud Light beer, or 67.2 ounces, to ingest the same amount of alcohol.

The drinks also come with a jolt.  The fruit punch-flavored Four Loko has 156 milligrams of caffeine.  An eight ounce cup of coffee, by comparison, has about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

A growing number of doctors, lawmakers state and federal officials are warning of potentially serious health problems from the drinks, and some experts argue they are illegal under current federal law.

Doctor Mary Claire O'Brien of Wake Forest University led a recent study on the effects of combining alcohol and caffeine.  She found that compared to college students who drink only alcohol, students who drink booze mixed with energy drinks are twice as likely to be injured, require medical attention or ride with an intoxicated driver.  Those students are also more than twice as likely to take advantage of someone sexually.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


A Drink or Two During Pregnancy? Not So Fast

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Light consumption of alcohol during pregnancy may not be harmful to a baby's physical, emotional and cognitive development, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.  However, many doctors are worried, saying the study could be misinterpreted as a green light to drink.

"You can walk on a railroad track and not be hit by a train, but that doesn't mean it's a safe thing to do," said Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs with March of Dimes, and professor emeritus of Pediatrics at Columbia University.  "I worry about this article because it could be over-interpreted, and over-interpreting data of this nature is probably dangerous."

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor, said, "I'd be very concerned if a woman saw this study and felt that it gave her a green light to drink during pregnancy."

The study, which includes data from more than 11,000 children born between September 2000 and January 2002, has found no significant differences in the behavioral and cognitive development of children whose mothers either abstained from alcohol or drank lightly while pregnant.

But the researchers so far have only looked at these kids until the age of five. The children in the study will continue to be monitored as they mature, and even the researchers doing the work say pregnant women should not take their findings so far as an excuse to drink while pregnant.

"We are not taking on an advocacy role with this research," said Dr. Yvonne Kelly, lead author of the research and graduate tutor in the department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. "These findings are consistent with those from our prior work. We will continue to assess the relationship as children get older." 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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