Why alcohol may be even more damaging to your health then you first thought
We all know what risks our favourite wines and spirits pose to our health but now scientists reveal that the packaging of these drinks may be just as damaging. Is it time to leave that extra bottle of red on the supermarket shelf?
Phthalate compounds are extremely widespread in our environment and are present in many plastics. Though the subject of much debate, the toxicity of phthalates varies depending on their chemical composition and some compounds are fairly unanimously considered to have a major potential as hormone disruptors.
59% of the wines analysed contained significant quantities of one particular form of phthalate, dibutyl phthalate
The use of phthalates is regulated on an international level and includes those likely to come into contact with food and drink packaging. A study published in Food Additives and Contaminants: Part Aanalysed phthalate concentrations in a variety of French wines and spirits.
The research reveals that 59% of the wines analysed contained significant quantities of one particular form of phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, and only 17% did not contain any detectable quantity of at least one of the reprotoxic phthalates. Perhaps a more worrying statistic the research brings to light is that 11% of the wines analysed did not comply with EU specific migration limits (SML) for materials in contact with food.
The study also analysed a variety of materials frequently present in wineries and found that a large number of polymers often contained high quantities of phthalates. Indeed, some containers that are coated in epoxy resin proved to be a major source of contamination. The authors of the paper, P. Chatonnet, S. Boutou and A. Plana, advise ending the use of such containers.
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Binge Drinking During Pregnancy Linked to Negative Emotions
Researchers in Norway found that negative affectivity is linked to light alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy. Results published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology, show 16% of women had light alcohol use in the first trimester and 10% in the second trimester.
Binge drinking occurred in 12% of women during their first trimester and 0.5% in the second trimester.
Experts describe negative affectivity as the tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.
Individuals with negative affectivity tend to have an unfavorable view of themselves and the world in general. Previous studies have associated negative affectivity with greater vulnerability to stress, intense emotional reactions to daily life, and inclination to use intoxicants in response to stress.
Mothers who use alcohol while pregnant place their unborn child at risk for premature birth, low birth weight, fetal alcohol syndrome and even fetal death. These serious health risks have led health experts around the world to recommend that women abstain from alcohol while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
Yet prior evidence indicates that 25% to 50% of women report drinking alcohol while pregnant, with low income level, partner’s drinking behavior, and mother’s pre-pregnancy alcohol use all contributing risk factors.
The present population-based study, led by Dr. Kim Stene-Larsen from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, used data from 66,111 pregnant women and their partners who were part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Mothers filled out surveys related to alcohol use at 17 and 30 weeks of gestation.
The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) was used in the present study to measure
- light alcohol use (0.5 to 2 units, 1-4 times per month) and
- binge drinking (intake of 5 alcohol units or more in a single drinking episode).
In Norway one unit of alcohol is equivalent to
- one glass (1/3 liter or ≈11 oz) of beer,
- one sherry glass of fortified wine, or
- one snaps (shot) glass of spirit or liqueur.”
Negative affectivity was assessed in gestational weeks 17 and 30 using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, which measures anxiety and depression. Medical evidence has established that measures of anxiety and depression symptoms are comparable to negative affectivity measures.
Findings indicate that with each unit increase in maternal negative affectivity, the odds for light alcohol increased in the first and second trimester, 27% and 28%, respectively.
The odds for binge drinking were much higher at 55% in the first trimester and 114% in the second trimester for each unit increase of negative affectivity in the mother.
“Our findings clearly show a link between a mother’s negative emotions, such as depression and anxiety, and light alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy,” concludes Dr. Stene-Larsen. “Further study is needed to understand why women continue to drink alcohol while pregnant despite health warnings.”
“Our findings clearly show a link between a mother’s negative emotions,
such as depression and anxiety, and light alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy”
Hangovers are no fun, we all know that, but why is this the case? Scishow explains how there are
three reasons in play that make you feel miserable after a night of drinking.
Public education goes hand in hand with public health. This is the best example of an easy
first step to take. Pass it on.
CHICAGO—In commentaries published Dec. 19 online in JAMA, several medical doctors have discussed the science, research, health and regulatory status of energy drinks relative to caffeine and alcohol content. Overall, they discussed research and other evidence suggesting negative health effects from excessive consumption of caffeine, especially in conjunction with alcohol, but they noted much is not yet known about the exact roles these ingredients have played in deaths associated with energy consumption, due to the unique characteristics of each case, and to what extent government should or will regulate energy drinks containing these ingredients.
In one commentary, Jonathan Howland, PhD, MPH, from the Department of Emergency Medicine at Boston University, and Damaris J. Rohsenow, PhD, from both the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University and VA Medical Center, Providence, R.I., detail the health effects of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AMED), including premixed “alcopop” drinks such as Four Loko and self-mixing of highly caffeinated energy drinks with various types of alcohol.
Citing survey’s showing as much as 56 percent of college students reported mixing energy drinks with alcohol, the authors established the potential for public health consequences for this recreational use of energy drinks, which often contain herbal ingredients, including botanical sources of caffeine that contribute tot he overall average of 80 to 140 mg of total caffeine content.
Caffeine counters the sedating and intoxicating effects of alcohol, thereby impairing judgment relative to risky behavior
At issue are concerns the caffeine counters the sedating and intoxicating effects of alcohol, thereby impairing judgment relative to risky behavior. They concluded the scientific evidence on AMED’s effects “on perceived intoxication and sedation has been inconsistent,” but noted AMED use has been correlated to “increased risk for negative consequences of drinking.” They summarize and cite several studies to support their findings.
In some of the evidence, they found sources of potential confounding factors that make it difficult to definitively link AMED use to riskier behavior. For instance, cross-sectional studies connecting AMED use with increased risk taking most often compared AMED users to people drinking alcohol without energy drinks/caffeine. “This study design leaves open the possibility that those who choose to use AMED are inherently more prone to risk-taking behaviors, and thus the relationship between AMED and risk taking could be spurious,” they suggested, adding it is possible personality traits such as impulsivity and thrill-seeking lead to AMED consumption, not vice versa. In fact, they cited a study showing heavy energy drink users were more likely to be heavy alcohol drinkers than were people who infrequently consumed energy drinks. They suggested a future approach to this subject might be the study of drinking and risk taking within the same group of people who consume alcohol with or without caffeine.
Caffeine allowed moderately intoxicated individuals to respond as quickly as if not intoxicated.
To further highlight the effects of caffeine paired with alcohol, Howland and Rohsenow pointed to experimental studies showing caffeine can reverse certain impairment—reaction time, psychomotor speed and simulated driving performance—due to moderate alcohol consumption, but there is no such effect on error rate. “Thus, caffeine allowed moderately intoxicated individuals to respond as quickly as if not intoxicated, but their performance remained impaired,” they noted. To this end, they argued marketing that suggests AMEDs can reduce impairment and sedation is misleading, and social drinkers who think caffeine will counteract alcohol impairment have actually shown greater impairment.
The authors acknowledge actions by state and federal officials against energy drinks containing alcohol and high levels of caffeine help increase awareness and improve the marketing of these products, but most young people will continue to mix energy drinks and alcohol. “Thus, it is important that policy makers, parents, university administrators, health care professionals, and consumers of AMED have accurate information regarding AMED as a public health danger,” they advised. They also recommended stakeholders address gaps in knowledge on the exact effects of AMED use on behavior through targeted research and assessment of evidence by experts from relevant government, research and trade groups.
In another commentary, Kent Sepkowitz, M.D., from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Weill-Cornell Medical College, New York, discusses the distant and recent histories of caffeine scrutiny, including recent action and involvement by FDA in cases involving marketers of certain caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks. He also provided an overview of data on energy drink usage, as well as information on how energy drinks are often marketed as dietary supplements when containing various botanical and other nutraceutical ingredients, some of which are additional sources of caffeine.
The article explores the situation of caffeine poisoning, highlighting research on caffeine levels in forensic autopsies and discussing caffeine metabolism relative to achieving toxic levels. In a Swedish study, one percent of 5,000 autopsies had Caffeine levels higher than 10 mcg/mL—the equivalent of five to seven cups of standard coffee—and 20 cases out of 16 year’s worth of autopsies featured caffeine levels higher than 80 mcg/mL, which is considered a lethal dose. Of these cases, 12 of the deaths were attributed to caffeine intoxication, with the most common cause of death being arrhythmias.
Sepkowitz noted caffeine is well-absorbed and reaches maximum blood level in about 15 to 45 minutes, and alcohol can extend the life of caffeine in the body, possibly increasing the stimulant’s toxic effects. He advised, consuming 3 to 10 g of caffeine in a short period of time might be lethal, but to reach such a dosage would require consumption of about 12 typical energy drinks—about 100 mg of caffeine per serving—within a few hours.
“It is not known how many energy drinks were ingested by patients thought to have energy drink–related deaths,” he noted, adding a number of confounding factors could be involved such as drug-drug interactions, multiple drugs and compounds being metabolized in the same pathway, underlying cardiac or liver disease, and the influence of other ingredients in the energy drinks.
In light of the evidence, both research and public records, he recommended energy drink consumers, especially young men (the heaviest users), should talk to their physicians about energy drink use. He further suggested having caffeine content clearly listed on product labels could help users keep their intake of the stimulant below the safe level of 500 mg per day for people without heart or liver disease. In fact, he said while the role of regulators in energy drink oversight is undefined, requiring labeling of caffeine content on these drinks would be a good start. “In Sweden, restriction of caffeine tablet sales from 250 to 30 pills per customer appeared to decrease the rate of fatal caffeine overdoses, suggesting that deliberately restricting the sale of preparations with a high dose of caffeine might be an effective approach,” he said.
In addition to the commentaries, JAMA also published a Patient Page containing information on the energy drink market, including common ingredients, caffeine content of various known energy drink brands, and some health risks associated with energy drink use—increased heart rate, palpitations blood pressure, sleep disturbances, urine production and blood sugar.