Study: Drinking More than Five Pints a Week Could Shorten Your Life

Regularly drinking more than the recommended UK guidelines for alcohol could take years off your life, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the study shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.

The authors say their findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK’s recently lowered guidelines.

The study compared the health and drinking habits of over 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide and controlled for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.

The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week (100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4% ABV beer or five 175ml glasses of 13% ABV wine). However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy. For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.

The research, published today in the Lancet, supports the UK’s recently lowered guidelines, which since 2016 recommend both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week. This equates to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine a week.

However, the worldwide study carries implications for countries across the world, where alcohol guidelines vary substantially.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure and there were no clear thresholds where drinking less did not have a benefit.

By contrast, alcohol consumption was associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks.

The authors note that the different relationships between alcohol intake and various types of cardiovascular disease may relate to alcohol’s elevating effects on blood pressure and on factors related to elevated high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (also known as ‘good’ cholesterol). They stress that the lower risk of non-fatal heart attack must be considered in the context of the increased risk of several other serious and often fatal cardiovascular diseases.

The study focused on current drinkers to reduce the risk of bias caused by those who abstain from alcohol due to poor health. However, the study used self-reported alcohol consumption and relied on observational data, so no firm conclusions can me made about cause and effect. The study did not look at the effect of alcohol consumption over the life-course or account for people who may have reduced their consumption due to health complications.

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study said: “If you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions.

“Alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks but this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious – and potentially fatal – cardiovascular diseases.”

Victoria Taylor, Senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, said: “This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the UK, but this does seem to broadly reinforce government guidelines for the UK.

“This doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels, many people in the UK regularly drink over what’s recommended. We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and try to drink well below this threshold.”

Source: University of Cambridge


Read also:

Limit Alcohol To One Drink a Day: Study . . . . .


Today’s Comic

Advertisements

Bananas vs. Sports Drinks? Bananas Win in Study

Gretchen Reynolds wrote . . . . . . .

A banana might reasonably replace sports drinks for those of us who rely on carbohydrates to fuel exercise and speed recovery, according to a new study comparing the cellular effects of carbohydrates consumed during sports.

It found that a banana, with its all-natural package, provides comparable or greater anti-inflammatory and other benefits for athletes than sports drinks. But there may be a downside, and it involves bloating.

For decades, athletes and their advisers have believed, and studies have confirmed, that eating or drinking carbohydrates during prolonged exertion can enable someone to continue for longer or at higher intensities and recover more quickly afterward than if he or she does not eat during the workout.

The carbohydrates rapidly fuel muscles, lessening some of the physiological stress of working out and prompting less inflammation afterward.

The most digestible and portable form of carbohydrates is sugar, whether glucose, fructose or sucrose, and for athletes, this sugar frequently is provided through sports drinks.

But sports drinks are not a substance found in the natural world. They are manufactured and can contain flavorings and chemicals that some people might wish to avoid.

So a few years ago, researchers at the North Carolina Research Campus of Appalachian State University in Kannapolis, began to wonder about fruits as a healthier alternative to sports drinks during exercise.

Most fruits, including bananas, are sugary and high in fructose; fructose, after all, means fruit sugar. But they also contain other natural substances that might have an impact on sport performance and recovery, the researchers speculated.

In a preliminary experiment, published in 2012, the scientists found that cyclists performed better during a strenuous bike ride if they had either a banana or a sports drink compared to only water. They also developed lower levels of inflammation in their bodies afterward.

But that study had left many questions unanswered, particularly about whether and how the carbohydrates might be aiding athletes’ recovery.

So for the new experiment, which was published last month in PLOS One, the researchers decided to use more sophisticated techniques to track molecular changes inside cyclists’ bodies.

(Dole Foods, which sells bananas, partially funded both studies. According to a statement in the study, the company did not have any involvement in “the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.”)

The researchers asked 20 competitive cyclists, male and female, to complete a grueling 47-mile (75-kilometer) bike ride on several occasions at the campus performance lab. During one ride, they drank only water. In the others, they had water, but also eight ounces of a sports drink or about half of a banana every 30 minutes.

The scientists drew blood before the workout, immediately after, and at several additional points, stretching out to 45 hours later.

They then checked the blood for markers of inflammation and levels of hundreds of molecules, known as metabolites, that can change during and after exertion and signify how much stress the body feels.

They also isolated blood cells to look at the activity of certain genes involved in inflammation.

As they had expected, the scientists found that swallowing only water resulted in relatively high levels of inflammatory markers in the riders’ blood. These markers were much lower if the cyclists had consumed fruit or the sports drink.

The volunteers also showed less-stressed metabolite profiles if they had had carbohydrates during their rides, whether those calories had come from a bottle or a banana.

But there were differences in the activity of some genes. In particular, the scientists found that the riders’ blood cells produced less of a genetic precursor of an enzyme known as COX-2 if they had eaten bananas during their workout. This effect was not seen if they had drunk the sports drink or only water.

The COX-2 enzyme prompts the production of prostaglandins, which, in turn, intensify inflammation. Less of the genetic precursor in cells after a workout should mean less COX-2 and reduced inflammation, says David Nieman, the director of the human performance lab at Appalachian State University and the study’s lead author.

He points out that anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen work by inhibiting COX-2, but, until now, researchers had not considered that bananas might perform comparably.

How the fruit manages to affect the cells’ gene expression after exercise is still not known, however, he says.

He and his colleagues also do not know whether half of a standard banana every 30 minutes is the ideal amount of the fruit during exertion. Although it provided as many carbohydrates as in a cup of the sports drink, it also resulted in “quite a bit of bloating,” he says, which might dampen some athletes’ enthusiasm.

He and his colleagues plan to explore those issues in future studies and also look into the effects of other fruits. “Dates have even more sugar than bananas,” Dr. Nieman says.

In the meantime, he says, for exercisers who might prefer a natural, inexpensive and neatly packaged alternative to sports drinks, “bananas look pretty good.”

Source: The New York Times

Coffee Sold in California Must Have Cancer Warning, Judge Says

Nate Raymond wrote . . . . . . .

Starbucks Corp and other coffee sellers must put a cancer warning on coffee sold in California, a Los Angeles judge has ruled, possibly exposing the companies to millions of dollars in fines.

A little-known not-for-profit group sued some 90 coffee retailers, including Starbucks, on grounds they were violating a California law requiring companies to warn consumers of chemicals in their products that could cause cancer.

One of those chemicals is acrylamide, a byproduct of roasting coffee beans that is present in high levels in brewed coffee.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said in a decision dated Wednesday that Starbucks and other companies had failed to show there was no significant risk from a carcinogen produced in the coffee roasting process, court documents showed.

Starbucks and other defendants have until April 10 to file objections to the decision.

Starbucks declined to comment, referring reporters to a statement by the National Coffee Association (NCA) that said the industry was considering an appeal and further legal actions.

“Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading. The U.S. government’s own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle,” the NCA statement said.

In his decision, Berle said: “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

Officials from Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN.O), McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), Peet’s and other big coffee sellers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT). It calls for fines as large as $2,500 per person for every exposure to the chemical since 2002 at the defendants’ shops in California. Any civil penalties, which will be decided in a third phase of the trial, could be huge in California, which has a population of nearly 40 million.

CERT’s lawyer Raphael Metzger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Starbucks lost the first phase of the trial in which it failed to show the level of acrylamide in coffee was below that which would pose a significant risk of cancer. In the second phase of the trial, defendants failed to prove there was an acceptable “alternative” risk level for the carcinogen, court documents showed.

Several defendants in the case settled before Wednesday’s decision, agreeing to post signage about the cancer-linked chemical and pay millions in fines, according to published reports.

Source: Reuters

Researchers Develop Model to Show How Bacteria Grow in Plumbing Systems

Lois Yoksoulian wrote . . . . . . .

Bacteria in tap water can multiply when a faucet isn’t used for a few days, such as when a house is vacant over a week’s vacation, a new study from University of Illinois engineers found. The study suggests a new method to show how microbial communities, including those responsible for illnesses like Legionnaires’ disease, may assemble inside the plumbing systems of homes and public buildings.

The findings are published in Nature’s ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology.

Fresh tap water is teeming with harmless microbial life, and water that sits for a few days inside pipes can contain millions of bacteria. Although incidents of waterborne infections resulting from indoor plumbing are rare, the new model may help public health authorities assess drinking-water quality.

“Previous studies have relied on reproducing the conditions of a stagnant plumbing system within a lab setting,” said co-author and civil and environmental engineering professor Wen-Tso Liu. “We were able to collect samples in a real-life situation.”

It is critical to pinpoint where in the plumbing network water samples have come from in order to determine the source of microbes. Since it is impossible to sample water directly from plumbing without ripping up pipes and knocking down walls, the researchers came up with another way to determine sample locations.

The team collected tap water samples from three closely monitored U. of I. dormitory buildings while closed during a school break. Taking steps to prevent outside contamination from plumbing fixtures or sampling equipment, they sampled from sink taps before building closure; while the water was fresh from the city supply; and again after the water sat in contact with the interior plumbing for a week.

“We performed a variety of analyses, including tests to determine the concentration of bacteria present in the before- and after-building-closure samples,” Liu said.

The lab results indicated the post-stagnation samples closest to the taps contained the highest concentrations of bacteria. The team also found that bacteria concentrations decreased significantly as the distance between the tap and pipe location increased. None of the samples in the study contained microbial species or cells concentrations that present a public health risk.

“Our results suggest that the increase in bacteria in the post-stagnation samples is a result of something occurring in the interior plumbing, not the outside city source, and in pipe segments closest to the taps,” Liu said.

Bacteria that live in tap water exist in two communities – those that float freely in the water and those that live in the films that line the sides of pipes, called biofilms. Biofilms are much like the films that we see growing on the glass in fish tanks, Liu said. The team believes that the bacteria they see in the post-stagnation samples came from interactions between the water and biofilms that exist inside the pipes closest to the taps.

The researchers determined the city water biofilm composition by sampling the interior parts of water meters that are routinely collected during the water utility’s replacement program. Liu worked with the municipal water company to collect almost four years’ worth of discarded water meters, giving the team a large set of city biofilm data.

By combining the before- and after-stagnation data, the city biofilm “control” data and information from building blueprints, the team developed a model to test water quality inside almost any building.

“We only need two samples – one before stagnation and one after – and we can determine how extensive the microbe growth is inside in-premise pipes, and we can now do so without destroying property,” Liu said.

The study also found that bacterial concentrations are highest in the first 100 milliliters of tap flow. Liu recommends that people run taps for a few moments before using the water after being away from home for a few days, and discussed the advice with U. of I. Facilities and Services and others at a campus workshop in October 2017.

“It is contrary to what we have learned about conserving water, but I like to think of it as just another basic hygiene step,” Liu said. “We have made a habit out of washing our hands; I think we can make a habit out of running the tap for few moments before use as well.”

Although the microbial communities in this study did not present a health risk, this method can be used in such cases, the researchers said.

“Communities have been and will continue to invest in green infrastructure that stresses water conservation,” Liu said. “If interior plumbing were to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, that could lead to unforeseen public health problems when buildings are left vacant for more than a few days.”

The desire to reuse and recycle water is unlikely to go away anytime soon, Liu said. “How are we going to deal with the problem when combined with water-conservation practices? If we want to head toward green practices, our engineers, public health organizations, scientists and municipal water suppliers will need to work cooperatively.”

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Aging and Swallowing Problem

It’s thought that one-quarter of U.S. adults will develop a swallowing problem at some point. But researchers hope insight from a new study may help lead to improved treatment.

Their study looked at the changes that occur in your ability to swallow as you age.

The Johns Hopkins University team hopes the findings will help rehabilitation experts design exercises that could help prevent swallowing disorders in at-risk older adults, said Dr. Alba Azola, a Hopkins resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The study included 31 adults, ages 62 to 91, with no swallowing problems, and 33 healthy young adults, ages 18 to 28. Both groups underwent an X-ray video test that revealed the mechanics of their swallowing.

The test showed how long the windpipe was closed off during a swallow, how long it took to close the airway, and how food was prevented from getting into the lungs.

In the older adults, the swallow started later. This meant the food was getting to the throat later, and it took longer for the start of actions to prevent food from getting into the airway, the researchers said in a university news release.

That puts older adults at higher risk of food getting into their lungs, which increases the risk of aspiration pneumonia, a condition that can lead to death, the investigators pointed out.

While more common among older adults, swallowing problems (dysphagia) can affect younger adults, too.

About half of patients diagnosed with dysphagia die within one year of diagnosis, according to Azola’s team. Treatments include rehabilitative therapy such as swallowing exercises that include strength training.

The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Dysphagia Research Society, in Baltimore. Research released at meetings is generally considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: HealthDay


Video: Guide To Dysphagia – 3D Animations of Swallowing

Watch video at You Tube (2:01 minutes) . . . . .


Today’s Comic