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Young binge drinkers show altered brain activity: Scientists have found distinctive changes in brain activity in binge-drinking college students, which may be an early marker of brain damage -- ScienceDaily

Compared with the non-bingers, the binge drinkers demonstrated altered brain activity at rest. They showed significantly higher measurements of specific electrophysiological parameters, known as beta and theta oscillations, in brain regions called the right temporal lobe and bilateral occipital cortex. Surprisingly, previous studies have found very similar alterations in the brains of adult chronic alcoholics. While the young bingers in this study might occasionally consume alcohol to excess, they did not fit the criteria for alcoholism. So, what does this mean? The changes might indicate a decreased ability to respond to external stimuli and potential difficulties in information processing capacity in young binge drinkers, and may represent some of the first signs of alcohol-induced brain damage.

Tanning dependence linked to other addictive behaviors, new study finds -- ScienceDaily

The connections between tanning dependence and other disorders revealed by the study represent an opportunity for clinicians to address those related conditions. "People who are tanning dependent could also be assessed for SAD," said Cartmel. "There are ways of addressing SAD other than indoor tanning. Regarding the alcohol dependence association, it may be possible that addressing that behavior could help address tanning dependence." The underlying mechanisms for the addiction to UV light are not yet fully understood. According to other studies, "The biological rationale for tanning dependence is that exposure to UV light results in both melanin, and endorphin production," said Cartmel. She also added that there was another interesting preliminary finding: those with tanning dependence were five times more likely to exhibit "exercise addiction." She said it is too early, however, to determine the implication. "Exercise addiction" itself has really not been well researched," she said. "One hypothesis behind the finding is that people who exercise excessively do so because they are very aware of their appearance, and they also feel that being tanned improves their appearance. Or it may be that we will eventually find out that these individuals have more of an addictive or risk-taking personality type. If you have one type of dependence, you may be more likely to have another addiction," Cartmel said.

How Exercise Helped Me Stop Drinking | Fitness Magazine

What's a sure way to convince yourself you don't have a drinking problem? Waking up at 5 a.m. every Saturday for training runs. Being productive and accomplished gave me a free pass to reward myself and celebrate into the wee hours of the morning. I tried to manage and control my drinking via my "work hard, play hard" motto, but then came my early 30s and four small children. My husband often worked at night, which left me flying solo with the kids. I'd laugh with my other mom-friends about drinking a bottle of wine to cope with the stress. What I didn't share was that I hated who I was when I drank. And I certainly didn't tell them about the blackouts and intense anxiety that came with it.

Dry January: Giving Up Booze For A Month Does Have Benefits : The Salt : NPR

Dr. Rajiv Jalan, a liver specialist at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London, analyzed the findings. They revealed that liver fat, a precursor to liver damage, for all of those in the study who gave up drinking fell by at least 15 percent, and almost 20 percent for some. Abstainers also saw their blood glucose levels — a key factor in determining diabetes risk — fall by an average of 16 percent. It's the first study to show such an immediate drop from going dry, says Dr. James Ferguson, a liver specialist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in England, who was not involved in the experiment. Overall, Ferguson says, the evidence is convincing but not all that surprising. "If you take time off from alcohol, it's going to be beneficial for your liver from the reduction of fat," he tells The Salt. "People always forget the amount of calories in alcohol, so if you take a month off, and you usually consume 20 units, you're going to lose weight and fat. It's a massive reduction in calories. "

Teenage binge drinking can affect brain function of future offspring -- ScienceDaily

In the offspring of alcohol-exposed rats, researchers examined genes in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in many functions, including reproduction, response to stress, sleep cycles and food intake. Researchers looked for molecular changes to DNA that would reverse the on-off switches in individual genes. They found 159 such changes in the offspring of binge-drinking mothers, 93 gene changes in the offspring of binge-drinking fathers and 244 gene changes in the offspring of mothers and fathers who both were exposed to binge drinking.

Depression in patients with alcohol use disorders

Results of this review and meta-analysis revealed that combined treatment for co-morbid depression and alcohol use disorders is associated with a large early improvement in depression, irrespective of whether the depression is independent of alcohol misuse. The mean level of depression improved considerably in the first 3-6 weeks of treatment, but plateaued by 3 months. The amount of improvement was consistent across study participants with high levels of depression at baseline. The study also reported a modest effect of antidepressant medication on depression in those with co-morbid alcohol use disorders. However, the strongest effect appeared to be for patients with depression that is independent of substance misuse.

Drinking more coffee may undo liver damage from booze | Reuters

Compared to no coffee consumption, researchers estimated one cup a day was tied to a 22% lower risk of cirrhosis. With two cups, the risk dropped by 43%, while it declined 57% for three cups and 65% with four cups. But the results still leave some unresolved questions.

Aerobic fitness may protect liver against chronic alcohol use: Higher metabolism from aerobic activity could prevent liver inflammation -- ScienceDaily

"As expected, we found that fatty deposits were greater in the livers of the chronic alcohol group," said Ibdah, who also serves as director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the MU School of Medicine. "However, chronic alcohol ingestion did not cause significant inflammation in the liver. Higher physical activity levels seemed to protect against the metabolic dysfunction that eventually leads to irreversible liver damage." Ibdah's team also found that chronic alcohol ingestion caused no discernable increase in free fatty acids, triglycerides, insulin or glucose in the blood of the group exposed to alcohol as compared to the control group.

Self-redemption narrative makes healing more durable

research examined whether the production of a narrative containing self-redemption (wherein the narrator describes a positive personality change following a negative experience) predicts positive behavioral change. In Study 1, we compared the narratives of alcoholics who had maintained their sobriety for over 4 years with those of alcoholics who had been sober 6 months or less. When describing their last drink, the former were significantly more likely to produce a narrative containing self-redemption than the latter. In Study 2, we examined the relation between the profession of self-redemption and behavioral change using a longitudinal design, by following the newly sober alcoholics from Study 1 over time. Although indistinguishable at initial assessment, newly sober alcoholics whose narratives included self-redemption were substantially more likely to maintain sobriety in the following months, compared to newly sober alcoholics who produced nonredemptive narratives; 83% of the redemptive group maintained sobriety between assessments, compared to 44% of nonredemptive participants. Redemptive participants in Study 2 also demonstrated improved health relative to the nonredemptive group. In both studies, the effects of self-redemption on sobriety and health held after controlling for relevant personality traits, alcohol dependence, recovery program involvement, initial physical and mental health, and additional narrative themes. Collectively, these results suggest that the production of a self-redemptive narrative may stimulate prolonged behavioral change and thus indicate a potentially modifiable psychological process that exhibits a major influence on recovery from addiction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

DRD4 gene, present in ~1/4 people, doubles alcohol consumption near heavy drinkers

When confederates quaffed multiple alcoholic drinks, carriers of the gene variant consumed an average of almost two wine or beer servings, versus almost one serving for noncarriers.

Man who broke Appalachian Trail record also broke rules, says Baxter State Park - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Formally, the summons issued to Jurek was for consuming alcohol within the park, hiking with a group larger than 12 people, and littering, which occurred when champagne sprayed into the air on the 5,268-foot summit hit the ground.

An unfortunate incident, a teachable moment | John Palfrey

With the benefit of a few days of reflection, the primary lesson I take away from these events is one of humility. Personally, I realize the limits of my persuasive power […]. A few weeks ago, I stood before all 328 graduating students in Cochran Chapel and told them unequivocally not to host or to attend such a party. On large screens in the chapel, as a cautionary tale, I put up a recent newspaper article about a peer school at which a large number of former students were arrested at a graduation party in northern New England. We sent a clear letter to students and families about graduation week, as we do every year; we held follow-up meetings with students and parents to forestall these events. As we now know, for some students, these efforts did not prevent such an event from taking place.

Negative heart function impacts of small amounts of alcohol

In men, the changes started accumulating after more than two drinks per day, or 14 or more drinks a week. In these men, the pumping chambers of their hearts increased slightly compared to those in non drinkers, a sign that the heart had to work harder to pump the same amount of blood, which can cause it enlarge and weaken. In women, these changes appeared when women drank much less, just above the one drink a day. In addition, among the women who imbibed more than a drink a day, the scientists found slight drops in heart function compared to women who drank less.

Moderate drinking decreases number of new brain cells

The researchers discovered that at this level of intoxication in rats -- comparable to about 3-4 drinks for women and five drinks for men -- the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain were reduced by nearly 40 percent compared to those in the abstinent group of rodents. The hippocampus is a part of the brain where the new neurons are made and is also known to be necessary for some types of new learning. This level of alcohol intake was not enough to impair the motor skills of either male or female rats or prevent them from associative learning in the short-term. Still, Anderson said, th is substantial decrease in brain cell numbers over time could have profound effects on the structural plasticity of the adult brain because these new cells communicate with other neurons to regulate brain health. "If this area of your brain was affected every day over many months and years, eventually you might not be able to learn how to get somewhere new or to learn something new about your life," said Anderson, a graduate fellow in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology. "It's something that you might not even be aware is occurring."