Binge drinking affects 1 in 10 older adults in the US

Binge drinking affects more than one-tenth of older adults in the United States, according to new research.

Binge drinking can be harmful for older people because it increases the risk of injuries and falls and the chances of developing chronic health problems.

The new Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study analyzed recent national survey data on alcohol use.

The analysis estimates that 10.6% of adults in the U.S. who are 65 years of age and older are “current binge drinkers.”

Full story at Medical News Today

Ulcerative colitis: Does drinking alcohol make it worse?

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause the lining of the large intestine and rectum to become inflamed. There may be a connection between the condition and alcohol, which also affects the gut.

Some studies have appeared to show both harmful and beneficial effects of alcoholic drinks in someone who has ulcerative colitis (UC). However, newer studies mainly illustrate the detrimental effects of alcohol.

The recommendation is to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, as a general rule. Alcohol irritates the digestive tract in similar ways to UC, and combining the two may make symptoms worse.

While some people with UC may be able to consume alcohol, others should avoid it altogether.

Full story at Medical News Today

Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking prednisone?

Prednisone is a synthetic form of adrenocortical steroid that doctors can prescribe to treat several different conditions.

Prednisone can help balance hormones in people whose adrenal glands do not produce enough corticosteroids.

It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help treat diseases that cause inflammation, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. Prednisone can also alter the function of the immune system.

Whether they are taking a short course of the medication or need to use it long-term, people often wonder if they can drink alcohol while taking prednisone.

Full story at Medical News Today

Binge drinking in adolescence may increase risk for anxiety later in life

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that alcohol exposure early in life has lasting effects on the brain and increases the risk of psychological problems in adulthood. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming. The findings of the study, which was conducted in animals, was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

“Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don’t totally understand yet,” said Subhash Pandey, professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, director of the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics and lead author of the study. “But what we do know is that epigenetic changes are lasting, and increase susceptibility to psychological issues later in life, even if drinking that took place early in life is stopped.”

“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA, or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic alterations are required for the normal development of the brain, but they can be modified in response to environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress. These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behavior and disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Finding the elusive drinking ‘brake’

It’s a common scene in bars and clubs: messy, falling-down drunk, slurring and incoherent, precariously close to catastrophe … and asking the bartender for another shot.

For the majority of us who imbibe, there is a certain point at which we stop pounding the drinks, and many reasons we do so. Maybe we sense that we’re close to our limit, or we notice we don’t feel as well—physically and emotionally—as we did a couple of glasses ago. And sometimes the sedative effects of the  just take over. But for a certain subset of people, nothing—not the risk of losing control or the threat of nausea and dizziness—is enough to put the brakes on their drinking.

UC Santa Barbara neuroscientist Karen Szumlinski, who investigates binge drinking and the repeated stress of overdrinking on the brain, suggests a neurobiological mechanism might underpin this behavior. She and her team have uncovered a mechanism in a small brain structure called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) that helps sense alcohol’s negative effects and modulates the urge to drink. When it doesn’t function properly, however, we lose the ability to perceive when we’ve had enough—or, perhaps, one too many—and we continue to drink.

Full story at Medical Xpress