Drinking makes you older at the cellular level

The more alcohol that people drink, the more their cells appear to age. In a new study that will be shared at the 40th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in Denver June 24-28, researchers found that alcoholic patients had shortened telomere lengths, placing them at greater risk for age-related illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia..

“Telomeres, the protein caps on the ends of human chromosomes, are markers of aging and overall health,” said Naruhisa Yamaki, M.D., a clinical fellow at the Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine. Yamaki explained that every time a cell replicates, a tiny bit of telomere is lost, so they get shorter with age. But some groups may have shorter telomeres for reasons other than aging.

“Our study showed that alcoholic patients have a shortened telomere length, which means that heavy drinking causes biological aging at a cellular level,” he said. “It is alcohol rather than acetaldehyde that is associated with a shortened telomere length.” Yamaki will present this research at the RSA meeting on June 25.

Full story of alcohol and shortened telomere lengths at Science Daily

Moderate drinking may not ward off heart disease

Many people believe that having a glass of wine with dinner — or moderately drinking any kind of alcohol — will protect them from heart disease. But a hard look at the evidence finds little support for that.

That’s the conclusion of a new research review in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Over the years, studies have found that adults who drink moderately have lower heart disease rates than non-drinkers. That has spurred the widespread belief that alcohol, in moderation, does a heart good.

But the new analysis, of 45 previous cohort studies, reveals the flaws in that assumption: A central issue is that “non-drinkers” may, in fact, be former drinkers who quit or cut down for health reasons.

Full story of drinking warding off heart disease at Science Daily

Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol

For the first time, U.S. drivers killed in crashes in 2015 were more likely to have used drugs than alcohol, according to a new study.

The study found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, compared with 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above a legal limit, Reuters reports.

Full story of drivers killed in crashes and drug use at drugfree.org

For young adults, cigarettes more pleasurable with alcohol than with pot

Young adults get more pleasure from smoking cigarettes while they are drinking alcohol than they do while using marijuana, according to a new UC San Francisco study.

The study is the first to document that tobacco accompanied by alcohol provides cigarette smokers with a greater perceived reward than when they smoke cigarettes while using marijuana.

The study will be published online April 18 in the journal Addiction Research & Theory.

“What we’ve learned may have important implications for understanding differences in co-use of cigarettes with alcohol versus marijuana,” said co-first author Noah R. Gubner, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF.

Full story of cigarettes and alcohol use in young adults at Science Daily

Alcohol use in veterans with schizophrenia less common than thought; no level safe

U.S. military veterans who are being treated for schizophrenia are much less likely to drink any alcohol than the general population. However, they are equally likely to misuse alcohol. And when they do misuse alcohol, it leads to worsening of their symptoms, according to a new study led by Dr. Alexander Young, a psychiatry professor at UCLA.

Alcohol and drug use disorders are believed to have substantial negative effects on outcomes in people with schizophrenia. However, it has not been possible to know the extent of this problem, because diagnoses and details regarding substance use are typically not documented in people’s medical records, previous research shows.

Prior studies of veterans with serious mental illness have found that heavy drinking prevents them from sticking to prescribed medication regimens. Efforts to reduce alcohol misuse and better ensure that veterans with schizophrenia take their medications would improve outcomes for them and could reduce the incidence of hospitalization.

Full story of veteran alcohol use with schizophrenia at Science Daily