N.F.L. Says Drug Testing Will Be Rigorous and Frequent

By The New York Times

The N.F.L.’s new drug-testing program includes provisions under which all players will be tested for human growth hormone at least once a year, and possibly many more times, the league said Saturday.

Tests for growth hormone require a blood sample, and the N.F.L. will be the first major American sports league to carry out blood testing at the major league level. League officials also said Saturday that this season, for the first time, drug tests would be conducted on game days.

Under the drug policy, there is no limit to how often players can be tested for steroids and H.G.H. during the season, and they can be tested up to six times in the off-season, said the league spokesman Greg Aiello.

Full story at New York Times

New Discoveries May Lead To Insights Into Drug Abuse And Depression

By Medical News TODAY


A team of scientists from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College has shed light on the molecular workings of transporter proteins, molecular machines embedded in the cell membranes of neurons that modulate the transfer of signals between cells and recycle neurotransmitters.

The research, published today in the journal Nature, reveals with unprecedented detail how the molecule performs its task, says one of the senior authors, Dr. Jonathan Javitch, the Lieber Professor of Experimental Therapeutics in Psychiatry and professor of pharmacology in the Center for Molecular Recognition at Columbia University Medical Center. “This level of understanding may ultimately lead to improved treatments for psychiatric disorders and increase our understanding of how drugs such as cocaine work.”

Full story at Medical News TODAY

Risk for Alcoholism Linked to Risk for Obesity

ScienceDaily


The researchers noted that the association between a family history of alcoholism and obesity risk has become more pronounced in recent years. Both men and women with such a family history were more likely to be obese in 2002 than members of that same high-risk group had been in 1992.

“In addiction research, we often look at what we call cross-heritability, which addresses the question of whether the predisposition to one condition also might contribute to other conditions,” says first author Richard A. Grucza, PhD. “For example, alcoholism and drug abuse are cross-heritable. This new study demonstrates a cross-heritability between alcoholism and obesity, but it also says — and this is very important — that some of the risks must be a function of the environment. The environment is what changed between the 1990s and the 2000s. It wasn’t people’s genes.”

Obesity in the United States has doubled in recent decades from 15 percent of the population in the late 1970s to 33 percent in 2004. Obese people — those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more — have an elevated risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

Reporting in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Grucza and his team say individuals with a family history of alcoholism, particularly women, have an elevated obesity risk. In addition, that risk seems to be growing. He speculates that may result from changes in the food we eat and the availability of more foods that interact with the same brain areas as addictive drugs.

“Much of what we eat nowadays contains more calories than the food we ate in the 1970s and 1980s, but it also contains the sorts of calories — particularly a combination of sugar, salt and fat — that appeal to what are commonly called the reward centers in the brain,” says Grucza, an assistant professor of psychiatry. “Alcohol and drugs affect those same parts of the brain, and our thinking was that because the same brain structures are being stimulated, overconsumption of those foods might be greater in people with a predisposition to addiction.”

Grucza hypothesized that as Americans consumed more high-calorie, hyper-palatable foods, those with a genetic risk for addiction would face an elevated risk from because of the effects of those foods on the reward centers in the brain. His team analyzed data from two large alcoholism surveys from the last two decades.

The National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey was conducted in 1991 and 1992. The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions was conducted in 2001 and 2002. Almost 80,000 people took part in the two surveys.

“We looked particularly at family history of alcoholism as a marker of risk,” Grucza explains. “And we found that in 2001 and 2002, women with that history were 49 percent more likely to be obese than those without a family history of alcoholism. We also noticed a relationship in men, but it was not as striking in men as in women.”

Grucza says a possible explanation for obesity in those with a family history of alcoholism is that some individuals may substitute one addiction for another. After seeing a close relative deal with alcohol problems, a person may shy away from drinking, but high-calorie, hyper-palatable foods also can stimulate the reward centers in their brains and give them effects similar to what they might experience from alcohol.

“Ironically, people with alcoholism tend not to be obese,” Grucza says. “They tend to be malnourished, or at least under-nourished because many replace their food intake with alcohol. One might think that the excess calories associated with alcohol consumption could, in theory, contribute to obesity, but that’s not what we saw in these individuals.”

Grucza says other variables, from smoking, to alcohol intake, to demographic factors like age and education levels don’t seem to explain the association between alcoholism risk and obesity.

“It really does appear to be a change in the environment,” he says. “I would speculate, although I can’t really prove this, that a change in the food environment brought this association about. There is a whole slew of literature out there suggesting these hyper-palatable foods appeal to people with addictive tendencies, and I would guess that’s what we’re seeing in our study.”

The results, he says, suggest there should be more cross-talk between alcohol and addiction researchers and those who study obesity. He says there may be some people for whom treating one of those disorders also might aid the other.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine.

Prescription Drug Use on the Rise in U.S.

Prescription Drug AbuseStudy Shows About 48% of Americans Take at Least 1 Prescription Drug

Prescription drug use in the U.S. has been rising steadily in the past decade and the trend shows no signs of slowing, the CDC says in a new report.

The study, published in the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief No. 42, says the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug rose from 43.5% in 1999-2000 to 48.3% in the 2007-2008 period.

The use of two or more drugs increased from 25.4% to 31.2% over the same decade, and the use of five or more prescription medications jumped from 6.3% to 10.7%.

The report also says that in the 2007-2008 period:

  • One of every five children and nine out of 10 older Americans reported using at least one prescription drug in the month prior to being surveyed.
  • 22.4% of kids up to age 11 used at least one prescription drug.
  • 29.9% of young people 12-19 used at least one prescription drug.
  • 48.3% of people between 20 and 59 used at least one prescription medication.
  • 88.4% of Americans age 60 and over used at least one prescription drug, more than 76% used two or more prescription drugs in the past month, and 37% used five or more.

People without health insurance or a regular place to go for medical problems had less prescription drug use compared to those with such benefits.

Age and Gender Are Key

The report notes that prescription drug use increased with age, that women were more likely to use such medications than men, 53.3% to 43.2%, and the non-Hispanic white population had the highest prescription drug use at 54.3%, compared to 42% of black non-Hispanics and 33.9% of Mexican-Americans.

The CDC also says that:

  • People with a regular place for health care were 2.7 times as likely to have used prescription drugs in the past month compared to those without the benefit.
  • People with health insurance were about twice as likely to have used at least one prescription medication in the past month as those without health insurance.
  • People with prescription drug benefits in their health insurance plans were 22% more likely to use prescription medications than those who did not have that benefit.

Most Common Prescribed Drugs

According to the 2007-2008 data, the most commonly used drugs were:

  • Bronchodilators for children up to age 11.
  • Central nervous system stimulants for youths 12-19.
  • Antidepressants for people 20-59.
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs for adults 60 and older.
  • Among kids under age 6, penicillin antibiotics were the most frequently use prescription drugs.

The report says diuretics and beta-blockers were commonly used in adults and older Americans, with such medications used most often to treat heart problems and high blood pressure.

Article originally reported on WebMd:
http://www.webmd.com/news/20100902/prescription-drug-use-on-the-rise-in-the-u-s?src=RSS_PUBLIC

SOURCE:
National Center for Health Statistics: “NCHS Data Brief No. 42, September 2010.”