University of Waikato’s Dr Apo Aporosa says there could be potential liver damage among individuals who are regularly consuming alcohol after kava drinking sessions.
“As the EU considers ‘self-regulatory’ approaches regarding alcohol labelling and trans fat limitations, we call on the Commission to instead impose mandatory legally-binding regulations for the food and drinks industries, based on scientific evidence, and for more emphasis to be put on policies that support digestive health.”—Professor Thierry Ponchon, head of the digestive disease department at Edouard Herriot university hospital, Lyon
Estonia has received plaudits from a pan-European coalition for its “courage and persistence” in focusing the bloc’s attention on reducing alcohol harm during its six months holding the rotating EU presidency.
The Baltic state helped convince EU members to request: a new EU alcohol strategy; monitoring and evaluation of current measures on online advertising; a framework for a new joint action plan; more research on cross-border trade; and better provisions for alcohol labelling by the end of 2019.
“It is high time for European consumers to finally be told what is in their drinks,” said Mariann Skar, head of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance. “Having heard some disturbing rumours about QR codes, we are very concerned that the industry is taking us all for fools.”
But it is not certain the European Commission will heed the request raised during the Estonian presidency, with previous requests meeting with “hesitancy”, according to Lauri Beekmann, who leads the Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network.
Estonia’s six-month presidency ends this month. Next year it will be held by Bulgaria and then Austria. ■
This week: Medical cannabis reduces alcohol use; Scotland consults on 50p minimum; Alcohol trumps top-up education in Europe; US spirits lobby welcomes tax cuts. Public involvement in research; Minimum pricing in Wales. Probiotics may not help dependent people; Lithium chloride in FASD. “Do not go gentle” a conference on ageing taking its name from a poem by Dylan Thomas (pictured).
- Areas of the US where medical cannabis is legal saw a 15% fall in alcohol use
- The Scottish government opened consultation on a minimum unit price of 50p, before its introduction on May 1st
- Europeans spend more on alcohol than on topping-up their education
- The US spirits lobby is happy about the cuts it received in the recent tax bill
- Harnessing the benefits of public involvement in alcohol research, as explained by Alcohol Research UK
- An analysis of the likely impact of introducing a 50p minimum unit price in Wales
- Probiotics may not be a good idea if we are alcohol dependent
- Lithium chloride may blunt the brain damage linked to foetal alcohol syndrome
By the by
“Do not go gentle into that good night,” was written by Dylan Thomas for his dying father. He himself died at 39, largely from health problems connected to drinking alcohol. ■
The average European’s household spends more on alcohol than on supplementing state education, says the European Commission. At €250 a year alcohol spending accounts for around 1.6% of household expenses, but the proportion varies widely across the bloc: In the Baltic States it is around four times the average, while in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Finland it is around three. The UK is almost exactly average in this regard, as is Germany, while Spain and Italy the percentage is around half the EU mean. ■
Multiple shifts in the community structure and metabolic potential suggest strong negative influence of alcohol dependence and associated liver dysfunction on gut microbiota. … The expansion of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus suggests that probiotic interventions for patients with alcohol-related disorders using representatives of the same taxa should be considered with caution. Taxonomic and functional analysis shows an increased propensity of the gut microbiota to synthesis of the toxic acetaldehyde, suggesting higher risk of colorectal cancer and other pathologies in alcoholics.
A one day conference hosted by Drink Wise Age Well and DACW (Developing a Caring Wales). How do we work with older adults with substance misuse problems? The conference is aimed at professionals, practitioners, policy makers and interested others to explore how we can better recognise and respond to the needs of this age group.
Note: “Do not go gentle into that good night,” was written by Dylan Thomas for his dying father. He himself died at 39, largely from health problems related to alcohol. ■
- Just under 2m adults in Wales drink alcohol, averaging 610 units a year, costing £607
- Almost three quarters them drink within the UK guidelines of 14 units a week
- Nevertheless around 777 deaths and 35,637 hospital admissions are directly caused by alcohol
- Blood pressure accounts for 13,000 hospital admissions, mental health problems 9,000, liver disease 4,000 and cancer 2,000
- Around 24% of drinkers drink at the potentially hazardous level of between 14 and 50 units a week for men and 14 to 35 units for women
- And 4% of drinkers exceed these hazardous levels, practically guaranteeing harm
- Hazardous and harmful drinkers together make up 28% of the drinking population, but consume 75% of alcohol units
- The most deprived tend to drink less than average but suffer more, experiencing three times as many deaths as the best off
- Moderate drinkers buy less than a quarter of their alcohol for under 50p a unit, while harmful drinkers buy almost a half
- More units of off-trade wine are sold below 50p a unit than any other beverage
- Modelling suggests harmful drinkers would see the biggest change if a 50p minimum unit price is introduced, with a 7% reduction in the units they consume, the equivalent of 110 large beers a year, and a £48 increase rise in yearly spending
- The impact on moderate drinkers would be minimal, with an estimated reduction in annual consumption of 2.4 units, the amount in one large beer, and an increased annual spending of £3
- For every 100,000 harmful drinkers the model suggests a 50p minimum unit price would avoid 56 deaths and 688 hospital admissions each year
- Over two-thirds of the lives saved would be those of harmful drinkers
Young people with an alcohol-specific admission are at increased risk of subsequent injury requiring hospitalization, especially immediately post discharge, indicating a need for prompt intervention as soon as alcohol misuse behaviors are identified.
The new study found that giving the drug to newborn mice 15 minutes after “binge” alcohol consumption eliminated the hyperactivity and sleep deficits seen when rodents exposed to alcohol became adults. Moreover, the researchers report, lithium chloride-treated mice were much less likely to show the 25% drop in memory and cognitive test scores seen in untreated mice given the same amount of alcohol.