Why does my face go red after drinking alcohol?

Some people develop a distinctive facial flush after drinking alcohol, when their face turns either slightly or very red. Why does this happen, and what does it mean?

This side effect of drinking alcohol is more common in people of East Asian descent. Although it does not cause immediate health problems, it may signal an increased risk of some serious health issues, such as high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.

In this article, we look at why some people experience facial flushing from alcohol, while others do not. We also look at the risks of this side effect and how to prevent it.

Full story at Medical News Today

Boosting amino acid derivative may be a treatment for schizophrenia

Many psychiatric drugs act on the receptors or transporters of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. However, there is a great need for alternatives, and research is looking at other targets along the brain’s metabolic pathways. Lack of glycine betaine contributes to brain pathology in schizophrenia, and new research from the RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS) shows that betaine supplementation can counteract psychiatric symptoms in mice.

Betaine comes from a normal diet but is also synthesized in the body where it contributes to metabolism in various ways, including as an anti-inflammatory agent. Levels of betaine (glycine betaine or trimethylglycine) in the blood plasma of patients with schizophrenia has previously been found to be low, which suggested it is a possible therapeutic target.

In the new study, mice missing the Chdh gene, which is involved in making betaine, showed depressive behaviors and greatly reduced betaine levels in both the brain and blood. Betaine levels in the brain recovered when the it was given to the mice as a supplement in drinking water, demonstrating that betaine can pass through the blood-brain barrier.

Full story at Science Daily

What causes irritability?

When a person feels irritable, small things that would not usually bother them can make them feel annoyed or agitated. The resulting tension can make a person more sensitive to stressful situations.

Irritability is a common emotion. Many factors can cause or contribute to irritability, including life stress, a lack of sleep, low blood sugar levels, and hormonal changes.

Extreme irritability, or feeling irritable for an extended period, can sometimes indicate an underlying condition, such as an infection or diabetes. It may also be a sign of a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression.

Full story at Medical News Today

Gene linked to cannabis abuse

New research from the Danish psychiatric project, iPSYCH, shows that a specific gene is associated with an increased risk of cannabis abuse. The gene is the source of a so-called nicotine receptor in the brain, and people with low amounts of this receptor have an increased risk of cannabis abuse.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in both Denmark and internationally, and around one in ten users becomes addicted to the drug. Researchers from iPSYCH have discovered a gene that they associate with the abuse of cannabis.

“We discovered that the disorder was associated with a genetic variant. This variant affects how much of a certain nicotine receptor is formed in the brain,” explains Associate Professor Ditte Demontis from Aarhus University, who is behind the study.

Full story at Science Daily

Study finds increased cannabis use during pregnancy

Cannabis use more than doubled among pregnant women in the United States during the period 2002-2017, according to data collected from 467,100 women aged 12-44 who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and family income, past-month cannabis use, daily/near cannabis use, and number of days of cannabis use all increased among pregnant women. Cannabis use was more common during the first trimester than during the second and third. In addition, cannabis use for medical purposes was relatively rare, but just as frequent among pregnant as non-pregnant women.

Between 2002-2003 and 2016-2017, past-month cannabis use increased from 3.4% to 7.0% among pregnant women overall and from 5.7% to 12.1% during the first trimester. Daily/near daily cannabis use in the past month increased from 0.9% to 3.4% among pregnant women overall, and from 1.8% to 5.3% during the first trimester; from 0.6% to 2.5% during the second trimester; and from 0.5% to 2.5% during the third trimester.Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with effects on fetal growth, including low birth weight and length, and these outcomes may be more likely among women who consume marijuana frequently during pregnancy, especially in the first and second trimesters. This study emphasizes the need to screen and intervene for cannabis use among all pregnant women and underscores the need for additional research to assess fetal outcomes related to prenatal cannabis exposure.

Full story at drugabuse.gov