06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

The brain is one of the major target organs of alcohol actions. Alcohol abuse can lead to alterations in brain structure and functions and, in some cases, to neurodegeneration. Cognitive deficits and alcohol dependence are highly damaging consequences of alcohol abuse. Clinical and experimental studies have demonstrated that the developing brain is particularly vulnerable to alcohol, and that drinking during gestation can lead to a range of physical, learning and behavioral defects (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders), with the most dramatic presentation corresponding to fetal alcohol syndrome. Recent findings also indicate that adolescence is a stage of brain maturation and that heavy drinking at this stage can have a negative impact on brain structure and functions causing important short- and long-term cognitive and behavioral consequences. The effects of alcohol on the brain are not uniform; some brain areas or cell populations are more vulnerable than others. The prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the cerebellum, the white matter and glial cells are particularly susceptible to the effects of ethanol. The molecular actions of alcohol on the brain are complex and involve numerous mechanisms and signaling pathways. Some of the mechanisms involved are common for the adult brain and for the developing brain, while others depend on the developmental stage. During brain ontogeny, alcohol causes irreversible alterations to the brain structure. It also impairs several molecular, neurochemical and cellular events taking place during normal brain development, including alterations in both gene expression regulation and the molecules involved in cell-cell interactions, interference with the mitogenic and growth factor response, enhancement of free radical formation and derangements of glial cell functions. However, in both adult and adolescent brains, alcohol damages specific brain areas through mechanisms involving excitotoxicity, free radical formation and neuroinflammatory damage resulting from activation of the innate immune system mediated by TLR4 receptors. Alcohol also acts on specific membrane proteins, such as neurotransmitter receptors (e.g. NMDA, GABA-A), ion channels (e.g. L-type Ca(2) channels, GIRKs), and signaling pathways (e.g. PKA and PKC signaling). These effects might underlie the wide variety of behavioral effects induced by ethanol drinking. The neuroadaptive changes affecting neurotransmission systems which are more sensitive to the acute effects of alcohol occur after long-term alcohol consumption. Alcohol-induced maladaptations in the dopaminergic mesolimbic system, abnormal plastic changes in the reward-related brain areas and genetic and epigenetic factors may all contribute to alcohol reinforcement and alcohol addiction. This manuscript reviews the mechanisms by which ethanol impacts the adult and the developing brain, and causes both neural impairments and cognitive and behavioral dysfunctions. The identification and the understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in ethanol toxicity might contribute to the development of treatments and/or therapeutic agents that could reduce or eliminate the deleterious effects of alcohol on the brain.

06 May 2014 In Liver Disease

AIM: To investigate the effect of alcohol on the metabolic syndrome (MS) and fatty liver in Japanese men and women.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a medical health checkup program at a general hospital. This study involved 18 571 Japanese men and women, 18-88 years of age, with a mean body mass index of 22.6 kg/m(2). A standardized questionnaire was administered. The total amount of alcohol consumed per week was calculated, and categorized into four grades. Fatty liver was examined by ultrasound modified criteria of the revised National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III and the new International Diabetes Federation.

RESULTS: The prevalence of fatty liver decreased in men and women with light to moderate alcohol consumption, whereas the prevalence of MS was not so changed. The prevalence of fatty liver of any grade in men was lower than that in those with no or minimal alcohol consumption. In women with light to moderate alcohol consumption, prevalence of fatty liver was lower than that in women with no or minimal alcohol consumption. By logistic regression analysis, the odds ratio (OR) for MS in women with light alcohol consumption was decreased to < 1.0, but this change was not clear in men. The OR for fatty liver was clearly < 1.0 in men with any level of alcohol consumption and in women with light to moderate consumption.

CONCLUSION: Light to moderate alcohol consumption has a favorable effect for fatty liver, but not for MS in Japanese men and women.

06 May 2014 In General Health

 

 

 

BACKGROUND: Actinic keratoses (AKs) are premalignant actinic tumors of the skin. Evaluation of the role of diet in their development is lacking. OBJECTIVE: The objective was to determine whether intake of certain food groups or dietary patterns retard the occurrence of AKs over a 4.5-y period. DESIGN: In a community-based study of skin cancer in Queensland, Australia, food intake of 1119 adults was assessed in 1992, 1994, and 1996 by using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Dermatologists counted prevalent AKs during full-body skin examinations in 1992 and 1996. The relative ratio (RR) of AK counts in 1996 relative to 1992 was compared across increasing intakes of 26 food groups, and for 3 dietary patterns identified by principal components analysis, with the use of generalized linear models with negative binomial distribution, allowing for repeated measures. All analyses were adjusted for confounding factors, including skin color and sun exposure indexes. RESULTS: AK acquisition decreased by 28% (RR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.55, 0.95) among the highest consumers of oily fish (average of one serving every 5 d) compared with those with minimal intake. Similarly, the rate of acquisition of AKs was reduced by 27% (RR: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.54, 0.99) in those with the highest consumption of wine (average of half a glass a day in this study population). There was no consistent association of dietary pattern with AK acquisition. CONCLUSION: Moderate intake of oily fish and of wine may decrease the acquisition of AKs and thus complement sun protection measures in the control of actinic skin Tumors.

 

 

 

06 May 2014 In General Health

 

 

 

BACKGROUND: Recent findings suggest that alcohol consumption may reduce risk of multiple myeloma. METHODS: To better understand this relationship, we conducted an analysis of six case-control studies participating in the International Multiple Myeloma Consortium (1,567 cases, 7,296 controls). Summary ORs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) relating different measures of alcohol consumption and multiple myeloma risk were computed by unconditional logistic regression with adjustment for age, race, and study center. RESULTS: Cases were significantly less likely than controls to report ever drinking alcohol (men: OR = 0.72; 95% CI, 0.59-0.89; women: OR = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68-0.95). The inverse association with multiple myeloma was stronger when comparing current to never drinkers (men: OR = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.45-0.72; women: OR = 0.55; 95% CI, 0.45-0.68), but null among former drinkers. We did not observe an exposure-response relationship with increasing alcohol frequency, duration, or cumulative lifetime consumption. Additional adjustment for body mass index, education, or smoking did not affect our results; and the patterns of association were similar for each type of alcohol beverage examined. CONCLUSIONS: Our study is, to our knowledge, the largest of its kind to date, and our findings suggest that alcohol consumption may be associated with reduced risk of multiple myeloma. IMPACT: Prospective studies, especially those conducted as pooled analyses with large sample sizes, are needed to confirm our findings and further explore whether alcohol consumption provides true biologic protection against this rare, highly fatal malignancy.

 

 

 

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