Addiction Policy Forum Blog

4 min read

Alcohol can increase your risk of developing cancer - even with moderate consumption

By Mark Gold, MD on August 15, 2019

Cancer is a serious public health risk, and approximately 7 million deaths per year around the world are attributed to smoking each year. In recent decades we have come to better understand the link between smoking and cancer; 22% of all cancers are linked to a person’s smoking and 70% of people globally now understand that link, up from just 40% in 1966. This relationship has often clouded a discussion of cancer risks. But as far as we have come in understanding how smoking, genetics, and even stress affect our chances of developing life-threatening cancers, we still understand very little about the relationship between alcohol and cancer. Only 13% of adults surveyed in the UK believe that cancer is a health risk of drinking alcohol, despite research linking it directly to multiple different forms of cancer that affect both men and women. Smoking and drinking both have second-hand effects to consider as well - 40,000 deaths each year attributed to non-smokers exposed to smoke. Alcohol and its effects on drivers is also significant, as auto and motorcycle traffic injuries are the ninth cause of death across all age groups, globally, and many are alcohol and/or drug-related. Despite a decrease in driving under the influence of alcohol prevalence over the past decades, DUIA prevalence still remains very high in the United States.1

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6 min read

The Science Behind A.A.

By Dr. Charlotte Wincott on August 6, 2019

 

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3 min read

What can rats tell us about making better medications for alcohol use disorder?

By Mark Gold, MD on July 25, 2019

Despite causing significant morbidity, mortality, and consequences relative to many other substance use disorders, alcoholism remains understudied in key respects. Some research has discovered certain brain pathways and structures linked to incentive cycles and reward-seeking behavior, but these findings have not necessarily been translated into treatment improvements. We still really do not understand why so many people have had a drink or drink regularly and do not have problems, or specifically addressed why 15% of people who consume alcohol struggle with loss of control-compulsive alcohol use in their behavior. To better understand what might cause people to move from controlled to uncontrolled alcohol use, researchers at Linköping University, the University of Gothenburg, and the University of Texas studied the rates at which rats seemed to prefer to self-administer alcohol or the sweetener saccharin.

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3 min read

Risks of Opioid & Alcohol Use for Women Increase with Age

By Mark Gold, MD on June 6, 2019

Alcohol use is very prevalent among Americans - more than half of U.S. adults drank last month - and alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death after tobacco and poor diet/physical inactivity.1,2 When coupled with prescription opioid use, drinking becomes especially dangerous.3 Women are at high-risk of experiencing these adverse health effects, which worsen with age. A recent study illuminates the repercussions of concurrent alcohol and prescription opioid use in older women.

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3 min read

Ketamine and Naltrexone Combined Could Help Treat Depression and Addiction Simultaneously

By Mark Gold, MD on May 24, 2019

Ketamine was discovered by chemist Calvin Stevens in 1962 and its anesthetic effect was confirmed during testing with human prisoners in 1964. Ketamine was approved by the FDA in 1970 as Ketalar®, an injectable, rapid-acting general anesthetic. Because Ketamine does not cause respiratory depression or hypotension, it was released as a safer alternative to phencyclidine (PCP) that also provided excellent analgesia (pain relief).

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3 min read

Liver Transplants and Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease

By Mark Gold, MD on March 28, 2019

Times have changed for those suffering from alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD), an umbrella term for liver conditions like fatty liver and alcohol-related cirrhosis that are caused by heavy or excessive drinking. Liver disease is one of the major consequences of alcohol use disorder, often resulting, ultimately, in liver failure. In the past, people whose liver health had deteriorated due to ALD would not have been considered for a transplant. One reason for this was the stigma surrounding alcohol use disorders and addiction. Another was a lack of understanding among physicians on how to improve outcomes for patients with ALD and in need of a transplant. Today, attitudes amongst doctors have changed along with the outlook for people with ALD. Of the 33,000 liver transplant recipients since 2002, 36.7% of them received a transplant due to ALD, up from 24.2% in 2002. Drs. Mitchell and Maddrey examined in a recent multicenter, prospective, national cohort study what has changed in the approach to evaluating transplant candidates in recent years.

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