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There is ‘no safe level’ of alcohol, global study confirms

AFP
Published Friday, August 24, 2018 5:54AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 24, 2018 11:11AM EDT

 

Even an occasional glass of wine or beer increases the risk of health problems and dying, according to a major study on drinking in 195 nations that attributes 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year to booze.

“There is no safe level of alcohol,” said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts.

Despite recent research showing that light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease, the new study found that alcohol use is more likely than not to do harm.

“Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed each day.”

Compared to abstinence, imbibing one “standard drink” — 10 grams of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-per cent, the researchers reported.

That means 914 of every 100,000 15-95 year olds would develop a condition in one year if they did not drink, but 918 people in 100,000 who drank one alcoholic drink a day would develop an alcohol-related health problem in a year.

Looked at one way, that seems like a small increment.

“But at the global level, that additional risk of 0.5 per cent among (once-a-day) drinkers corresponds to about 100,000 additional deaths each year,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington and a director at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

‘Less is better, none is best’

“Those are excess deaths, in other words, that could be avoided,” she told AFP.

The risk climbs in a steep “J-curve”, the study found.

An average of two drinks per day, for example, translated into a 7.0 per cent hike in disease and injury compared to those who opt for abstinence.

In people who drank two drinks a day for one year, the risk increased to 7 per cent, so that 977 people in 100,000 who drank two alcoholic drinks a day would develop an alcohol-related health problem.

The risk of developing an alcohol-related health problems was 37 higher in people who drank five drinks every day for one year compared to those who did not drink at all. That works out to 1,252 people per 100,000.

The “less is better, none is best” finding jibes with the World Health Organization’s long-standing position, but is at odds with many national guidelines, especially in the developed world.

Britain’s health authority, for example, suggests not exceeding 14 drinks per week “to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level”.

“There is always a lag between the publication of new evidence and the modification and adoption of revised guidelines,” said Gakidou, who admitted to being an “occasional drinker” herself.

“The evidence shows what the evidence shows, and I — like 2.4 billion other people on the planet that also consume alcohol — need to take it seriously.”

Overall, drinking was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for just over two per cent of deaths in women and nearly seven per cent in men.

The top six killers are high blood pressure, smoking, low-birth weight and premature delivery, high blood sugar (diabetes), obesity and pollution.

But in the 15-49 age bracket, alcohol emerged as the most lethal factor, responsible for more than 12 per cent of deaths among men, the study found.

The 95 per cent club

The main causes of alcohol-related deaths in this age group were tuberculosis, road injuries and “self-harm”, mainly suicide.

King’s College London professor Robyn Burton, who did not take part in the study, described it as “the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol use to date.”

The examination of impacts drew from more than 600 earlier studies, while a country-by-country tally of prevalence — the percentage of men and women who drink, and how much they consume — drew from another 700.

Both were grounded in new methods that compensated for the shortcomings of earlier efforts.

Among men, drinking alcohol in 2016 was most widespread in Denmark (97 per cent), along with Norway, Argentina, Germany, and Poland (94 per cent).

In Asia, South Korean men took the lead, with 91 per cent hitting the bottle at least once in a while.

Among women, Danes also ranked first (95 per cent), followed by Norway (91 per cent), Germany and Argentina (90 per cent), and New Zealand (89 per cent).

The biggest drinkers, however, were found elsewhere.

Men in Romania who partake knocked back a top-scoring eight drinks a day on average, with Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Ukraine just behind at seven “units” per day.

Ukrainian women who drink were in a league of their own, putting away more than four glasses or shots every 24 hours, followed by Andorra, Luxembourg, Belarus, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Britain, all averaging about three per day.

The most abstemious nations were those with Muslim-majority populations.

Retrieved from CTV News

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/there-is-no-safe-level-of-alcohol-global-study-confirms-1.4066226

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CanFASD: Sober Saturdayz

Sober Saturdayz

CBC news recently covered the story of an Edmonton woman who is finding creative ways to promote healthy living and alcohol-free social opportunities.

Kaitie Degen is familiar with the negative effects of alcohol use, having grown up in a family impacted by substance use issues. After taking steps towards reducing drinking in her own life, she founded Sober Saturdayz, which is an organization that hosts alcohol-free parties across the city to make it easier for people to have fun “without the hangover.”

Although Sober Saturdayz is not directly tied to FASD, the initiative sends an incredibly valuable message: People can enjoy themselves and stay socially connected without feeling pressured to drink.

This message is especially important to hear in a culture where rates of binge drinking are on the rise, and more than half of pregnancies are unplanned. In the world of FASD, Sober Saturdayz represents a real-life example…

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Have you read: A Handbook For Beautiful People

The FASD Prevention Conversation Project

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 4.58.09 PM

When twenty-two-year-old Marla finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she wishes for a family, but faces precariousness: an uncertain future with her talented, exacting boyfriend, Liam; constant danger from her roommate, Dani, a sometime prostitute and entrenched drug addict; and the unannounced but overwhelming needs of her younger brother, Gavin, whom she has brought home for the first time from deaf school. Forcing her hand is Marla’s fetal alcohol syndrome, which sets her apart but also carries her through.

When Marla loses her job and breaks her arm in a car accident, Liam asks her to marry him. It’s what she’s been waiting for: a chance to leave Dani, but Dani doesn’t take no for an answer. Marla stays strong when her mother shows up drunk, creates her own terms when Dani publicly shames her, and then falls apart when Gavin attempts suicide. It rains, and then pours, and when the Bow…

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Who proved alcohol is a teratagen?

Red Shoes Rock

Red Shoes Rock honors the FASD pioneer – Dr. Kathleen K. Sulik – Thank you!

The FASD community is grateful that Kathleen K. Sulik, Ph.D. is a scientist who studies birth defects.

Her discipline is called teratology or developmental toxicology. Much of her research has involved studying the various types of birth defects that result from exposure of an embryo to alcohol at very specific times during development.

Suliklabfigure1Dr. Sulik designed experiments to demonstrate that alcohol can cause major birth defects and the brain damage as early as the first three weeks of fetal development.

One of the major findings from her laboratory’s studies is that alcohol can cause permanent brain damage if exposure occurs at very early stages of embryonic development — stages that occur prior to the time that most women would even realize that they are pregnant.

Dr. Sulik began her career with plans of becoming a…

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Indigenous elder mentorship program leads to healthier babies in Wetaskiwin area

The FASD Prevention Conversation Project

Elder Margaret Montour was an important support for Lacey Hoffman when she was pregnant with her son Aziel. (CBC)

Lacey Hoffman was nervous about attending her prenatal appointments by herself. As a teen expecting her first baby, she worried that others were judging her.

“It wasn’t fun being the youngest one,” recalled Hoffman. “I felt like people were looking at me, thinking that was sad or something like that.”

Now 18, Hoffman said she had the support of her mother and sister but they weren’t always able to join her for appointments at the Wetaskiwin Primary Care Network.

On those days, she had support from Elder Margaret Montour. 

“It was nice to have someone to talk to, to not be alone,” Hoffman told CBC News. 

Montour has been offering support and companionship to pregnant women since 2016 as part of The Elder’s Mentoring Program…

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