18 May 2018 In General Health

Objective: The objective of this study is to determine whether the health effects of smoking and moderate alcohol use persist with aging.

Method: Smoking status, alcohol use, and measures of function and health were obtained from 9,704 women aged >/=65 years at baseline and over 10- and 20-year follow-up periods. Adjusted multiple linear and logistic regression and Cox proportional hazard models estimated associations.

Results: Current versus never smokers had worse walking speed, self-reported health, difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and depression at 10 years and higher death rates at 10 and 20 years. Moderate versus never drinkers had better grip strength, walking speed, self-reported health, and less difficulty with IADLs and were less likely to live in nursing homes at 10 years and die at 10 and 20 years.

Discussion: Among aging women over 20 years, smoking is associated with worse physical function, including death, while moderate alcohol use is associated with better outcomes.

04 August 2017 In Drinking Patterns

Introduction: Adolescence and young adulthood are periods of continued biological and psychosocial maturation. Thus, there may be deleterious effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol on neural development and associated cognition during this time. The purpose of this mini review is to highlight neuroimaging research that has specifically examined the effects of binge and heavy drinking on adolescent and young adult brain structure and function.

Methods: We review cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of young binge and heavy drinkers that have examined brain structure (e.g., gray and white matter volume, cortical thickness, white matter microstructure) and investigated brain response using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Results: Binge and heavy-drinking adolescents and young adults have systematically thinner and lower volume in prefrontal cortex and cerebellar regions, and attenuated white matter development. They also show elevated brain activity in fronto-parietal regions during working memory, verbal learning, and inhibitory control tasks. In response to alcohol cues, relative to controls or light-drinking individuals, binge and heavy drinkers show increased neural response mainly in mesocorticolimbic regions, including the striatum, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, and amygdala. Mixed findings are present in risky decision-making tasks, which could be due to large variation in task design and analysis.

Conclusions: These findings suggest altered neural structure and activity in binge and heavy-drinking youth may be related to the neurotoxic effects of consuming alcohol in large quantities during a highly plastic neurodevelopmental period, which could result in neural reorganization, and increased risk for developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

28 August 2015 In Drinking Patterns

OBJECTIVE: A recent study suggested that college students who combined alcohol and energy drinks were more likely than students who consumed only alcohol to drive when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was higher than the .08% limit and to choose to drive despite knowing they had too much alcohol to drive safely. This study sought to replicate those findings with a larger sample while also exploring additional variables related to impaired driving.

METHOD: College students (N = 549) completed an anonymous online survey to assess differences in drinking and driving-related behaviors between alcohol-only users (n = 281) and combined alcohol-energy drink users (n = 268).

RESULTS: Combined users were more likely than alcohol-only users to choose to (a) drive when they perceived they were over the .08% BAC limit (35.0% vs. 18.1%, p < .001), (b) drive despite knowing they had too much alcohol to drive safely (36.3% vs. 17.0%, p < .001), and (c) be a passenger when they knew the driver had too much alcohol to drive safely (44.1% vs. 23.6%, p < .001). Combined users were significantly more likely (p < .001) to report indicators of high-risk alcohol use, such as larger number of drinks consumed, number of days drinking, number of days drunk, number of heavy episodic drinking episodes, greatest number of drinks on one occasion, and average hours of consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Combined use of alcohol and energy drinks may place drinkers at greater risk when compared with those who consume only alcohol. College students in this sample who combined alcohol and energy drinks were more likely to participate in high-risk driving behaviors than those who consumed only alcohol.

BACKGROUND: Adolescent selective intervention programs for alcohol have focused on the identification of youth at risk as a function of personality and associated alcohol-related cognitions. Research into the role of personality, drinking motivations, and alcohol-related outcomes has generally focused exclusively on motives to drink. We expand on this literature by focusing on both motives to drink and motives not to drink across time from adolescence to early adulthood in a community sample.

METHODS: Using 3 waves of data from 3 cohorts from the Rutgers Health and Human Development Project (n = 1,380; 49.4% women), we modeled the influence of baseline alcohol consumption, disinhibition (DIS), and harm avoidance (ages 15, 18, and 21 years) on drinking motives and motives not to drink 3 years later (ages 18, 21, and 24 years) and alcohol use and drinking-related problems 7 years subsequently (ages 25, 28, and 31 years).

RESULTS: Path analytic models were relatively invariant across cohort. Across cohorts, DIS and baseline alcohol consumption related to later positive reinforcement drinking motives, but less consistency was found for the prediction of negative reinforcement motives to drink. While positive reinforcement motives were associated with greater alcohol consumption and problems 7 years later, negative reinforcement motives were generally associated with problems alone. Positive reinforcement motives for drinking mediated relations between baseline consumption and later consumption. However, results were mixed when considering DIS as a predictor and drinking problems as an outcome. Similarly, personality and baseline consumption related to later motives not to drink and such motives predicted subsequent alcohol-related problems. However, mediation was not generally supported for pathways through motives to abstain.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study replicate and extend previous longitudinal findings with youth and add to the growing literature on motivations not to engage in alcohol use.

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