Binge drink­ing brings on lin­ger­ing health dan­gers that can last a life­time

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Career One -

THE PULSE

Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White YOUNG peo­ple may not re­alise that get­ting drunk on a reg­u­lar ba­sis could have last­ing health ef­fects. New re­search in the Jour­nalof Clin­i­calEn­docrinol­o­gyandMetabolism has found that heavy binge drink­ing dur­ing ado­les­cence and early adult­hood in­creases the long-term risk of meta­bolic disor­ders such as obe­sity, high choles­terol, high blood pres­sure and high blood sugar lev­els by 31 per cent. Re­searchers stud­ied life­time drink­ing pat­terns in 2818 peo­ple who re­ported drink­ing reg­u­larly at some point in their life. There were two main pat­terns of life­time al­co­hol in­take — early and heavy drink­ing, fol­lowed by a sharp re­duc­tion in al­co­hol con­sump­tion, and more mod­er­ate in­take over a longer pe­riod of time. The risks of meta­bolic disor­ders were lower in peo­ple who started drink­ing al­co­hol later in life and drank more mod­er­ately through­out adult­hood. JClinEn­docrinolMetab 2007;doi:10.1210/jc.2007-1395 (Fan AZ, et al) PAE­DOPHILIA may be the re­sult of faulty con­nec­tions in the brain, con­cludes a new study in the Jour­nalofPsy­chi­a­tryRe­search . The study chal­lenges the be­lief that pae­dophiles com­mit sex­ual crimes against chil­dren be­cause they them­selves have suf­fered child­hood trauma or abuse. Re­searchers used MRI (mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing) to com­pare the brains of 65 pae­dophiles and 62 non-sex­ual crim­i­nals. In ar­eas of the brain that re­spond to sex­ual stim­uli, the pae­dophiles had sig­nif­i­cantly less of a sub­stance called ‘‘ white mat­ter’’ which wires th­ese parts of the brain to­gether. Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have shown that pae­dophiles also have lower IQ, are three times more likely to be left-handed, and tend to be phys­i­cally shorter than non-pae­dophiles. JPsy­chi­a­trRes 2007;doi:10.1016/ j.jpsy­chires.2007.10.013 (Can­tor JM, et al) RE­COV­ER­ING from a stroke is a slow and dif­fi­cult process, but new re­search shows that it’s even harder if you have low lev­els of ‘‘ good’’ choles­terol and high lev­els of the amino acid called ho­mo­cys­teine. The study, pub­lished this week in Neu­rol­ogy , sug­gests that in­creas­ing good choles­terol and low­er­ing ho­mo­cys­teine lev­els could de­crease the risk of me­mory prob­lems and phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity fol­low­ing a stroke. The study in­volved 3680 men and women over the age of 35 who had suf­fered a mild to mod­er­ate stroke within the past three months. Par­tic­i­pants un­der­went brain func­tion and dis­abil­ity tests and were fol­lowed for two years. Test re­sults grad­u­ally im­proved over the fol­low-up pe­riod, but peo­ple with low lev­els of good choles­terol, high lev­els of ho­mo­cys­teine, and di­a­betes were twice as likely as those with­out such prob­lems to have poorer brain func­tion and greater dis­abil­ity af­ter stroke. Neu­rol­ogy 2007;69:2054-2062 (New­man GC, et al) SE­VERE de­pres­sion could soon be treated us­ing a new, non-in­va­sive method with fewer side ef­fects than cur­rent drug treat­ments, claims a new study in Bi­o­log­i­calPsy­chi­a­try . The method, tran­scra­nial mag­netic stim­u­la­tion (TMS), ex­cites nerve cells in the brain by pass­ing mag­netic pulses across the scalp. The study was con­ducted at 23 sites in Aus­tralia, Canada and the US, and in­volved 301 med­i­ca­tion-free pa­tients with ma­jor de­pres­sion who had not ben­e­fited from any other treat­ment. The pa­tients were ran­domly as­signed to re­ceive ei­ther ac­tive or fake TMS, which was given five times per week for four to six weeks. Com­pared to the fake treat­ment, those re­ceiv­ing ac­tive treat­ment were twice as likely to show im­prove­ment. Side ef­fects in­cluded mild scalp dis­com­fort or pain, but less than 5 per cent of pa­tients stopped their treat­ment due to side ef­fects. This is around three times bet­ter than stan­dard med­i­ca­tions. Bi­olPsy­chi­a­try 2007;62:1208-1216 (O’Rear­don JP, et al) VI­TA­MIN E sup­ple­ments could help 40 per cent of di­a­bet­ics to re­duce their risk of heart at­tack. A new study in the jour­nal Ar­te­rioscle­ro­sis,Throm­bo­sisandVas­cu­lar Bi­ol­ogy has found that th­ese pa­tients, who carry a par­tic­u­lar ver­sion of the hap­toglobin gene, can re­duce their risk of heart at­tack by 50 per cent by sim­ply boost­ing their vi­ta­min E lev­els. In to­tal, 1434 of th­ese di­a­betes pa­tients aged 55 and over were given ei­ther 400 units of vi­ta­min E per day or a placebo. In the fol­low­ing 18 months, 17 peo­ple in the placebo group had a heart at­tack, com­pared to only seven in the vi­ta­min E group. Di­a­bet­ics should be tested to iden­tify those that could ben­e­fit from vi­ta­min E sup­ple­ments. Ar­te­rioscle­rThrom­bVascBiol 2007; doi:10.1161/atvbaha.107.153965 (Mil­man U, et al) Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site. Dr Linda Cal­abresi is on leave

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