“A 2015 study, published in the journal, ‘Scientific Reports,’ suggests that smoking cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than drinking alcohol. Ironically, out of all the drugs that were researched in the study, alcohol was actually the most dangerous, and it was the only legal drug on the list.”
In a study published earlier this year by researchers at the National Institute of Scientific Research at the University of Quebec, cannabis can actually help counteract the harmful effects of alcohol to some degree.
The study found that cannabis use significantly lowered the odds of liver diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis, steatosis, and even hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer. Researchers formed these conclusions based on the medical records of roughly 320,000 patients who had a history of alcoholism.
According to the study:
“Abusive alcohol use has well‐established health risks including causing liver disease (ALD) characterized by alcoholic steatosis (AS), steatohepatitis (AH), fibrosis, cirrhosis (AC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Strikingly, a significant number of individuals who abuse alcohol also use Cannabis, which has seen increased legalization globally. While cannabis has demonstrated anti‐inflammatory properties, its combined use with alcohol and the development of liver disease remain unclear.”
Researchers have not determined why alcoholics who used cannabis had less of a chance of developing liver disease, but many suspect that it has something to do with the proven anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.
These findings support the results of another study last year which concluded that cannabis helps with non-alcoholic liver disease as well.
According to last year’s study:
“It can be hypothesized that marijuana use may have potential beneficial effects on metabolic abnormalities such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether marijuana use plays a role in NAFLD pathogenesis via modification of shared risk factors, or by an independent pathway remains uncertain. In this population-based study, we assessed the association between marijuana use and NAFLD in the US.”
Despite the proven health benefits of cannabis and the fact that it becoming legal in new states every year, lawmakers and mainstream media pundits refuse to give up on the reefer madness hysteria that they built their careers on.
Just after these studies were published, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control banned the sale of cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages, totally ignoring the science that this actually makes the alcohol less harmful.
This attitude can be seen in the hysteria that was created when Elon Musk took a hit of cannabis on the Joe Rogan Podcast, after spending two hours drinking liquor. Of course, even though the herb is legal in the state where they recorded, and it is far less harmful than alcohol, people decided to focus on the cannabis use because of the stigma against it.
A 2015 study, published in the journal, ‘Scientific Reports,’ suggests that smoking cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than drinking alcohol. Ironically, out of all the drugs that were researched in the study, alcohol was actually the most dangerous, and it was the only legal drug on the list.
Just behind alcohol, heroin and cocaine were listed as the next most dangerous, followed by tobacco, ecstasy, and meth. The criteria that these drugs were arranged by, was according to the likelihood of a person dying from consuming a lethal dose.
“The results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past. At least for the endpoint of mortality, the [margin of exposure] for THC/cannabis in both individual and population-based assessments would be above safety thresholds (e.g. 100 for data based on animal experiments). In contrast, the risk of alcohol may have been commonly underestimated,” the report states. “Currently, the MOE results point to risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs. The high MOE values of cannabis, which are in a low-risk range, suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach,” the report continues.
While this is not the first study to rank marijuana very low in terms of danger, it comes at a time when the debate surrounding marijuana legalization is more heated than ever before, with more and more people agreeing that it is time to end prohibition.
Ron Byrd remembers losing his daughter Erika to complications of alcohol abuse, despite he and his wife June’s best efforts. USA TODAY
OAKTON, Va. – The last time lawyer Erika Byrd talked her way out of an alcohol rehab center, her father took her to lunch.
“Dad, I know what alcohol has done to me,” she told him that day in January 2011. “I know what it has made me do to you and mom. But that wasn’t me.”
By the time she died three months later, Byrd had blocked her parents’ calls because they kept having her involuntarily committed. They once had a magistrate judge hold a hearing at her hospital bed. He ordered herto undergo a month of in-patient treatment.
Byrd, who died in April 2011 at the age of 42, is among the rising number of people in the United States who have been killed by alcohol in the last decade.
From 2007 to 2017, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased 35 percent, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The death rate rose 24 percent.
One alarming statistic: Deaths among women rose 67 percent. Women once drank far less than men, and their more moderate drinking helped prevent heart disease, offsetting some of the harm.
Deaths among men rose 29 percent.
While teen deaths from drinking were down about 16 percent during the same period, deaths among people aged 45 to 64 rose by about a quarter.
People’s risk of dying, of course, increases as they age. What’s new is that alcohol is increasingly the cause.
“The story is that no one has noticed this,” says Max Griswold, who helped develop the alcohol estimates for the institute.“It hasn’t really been researched before.”
The District of Columbia, less than 10 miles away from the Venable law office where Byrd was a partner, hadthe highest rate of death from alcohol in the country, according to the institute’s analysis. Georgia and Alabama came in second and third.
Alabama, in fact, ranked third amongstates with the strongest alcohol control policies, as rated by medical researchers in a 2014 report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
States can influence drinking – especially dangerous binge drinking – with policies such as taxes on alcohol and restrictions on where and whenit can be sold.
Psychologist Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at the nonprofit Well Being Trust, says the larger health challenges in the South are to blame for high alcohol death rates. Southern states typically rank near the bottom in national rankings in cancer, cardiovascular disease and overall health.
Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas and Tennessee rounded out the five states with the strongest alcohol control policies, the researchers reported. States with more stringent alcohol control policies had lower rates of binge drinking, they found.
Nevada, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming and Wisconsin had the weakest alcohol control policies.
David Jernigan, a professor at Boston University’s school of public health who has specialized in alcohol research for 30 years, notes that the beer industry holds considerable sway in Wisconsin.
Binge drinking is sending far more people to the emergency room, a separate team of researchers reported in the February 2018 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
The researchers, who looked at ER visits from 2006 to 2014,found the largest increases were among the middle aged – especially women.The number of teenage binge drinkers landing in the ER during that time actually declined.
Older, often lifelong drinkers don’t need only to have their stomachs pumped. They frequently have multiple complications from their drinking.
Their often bulbous bellies need to be drained of fluid, which builds up from liver cirrhosis, and their lungs cleared of aspirated vomit, says Dr. Anthony Marchetti, an emergency room doctor at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Georgia.
They might also have brain hemorrhages or internal bleeding, because booze prevents their blood from clotting properly.
By middle age, Marchetti says, long-term drinking can also lead to heart failure, infections due to immune suppression, a type of dementia from alcohol-induced brain damage, stomach ulcers and a much higher risk of cancer.
As opioid overdoses, which kill about 72,000 people a year, grabbed America’s attention, the slower moving epidemic of alcohol accelerated, especially in Southern states and the nation’s capital. About 88,000 people die each year from alcohol.
Making matters worse, alcoholism is trickier to treat – and criticize – than opioid addiction.
“Culturally, we’ve made it acceptable to drink but not to go out and shoot up heroin,” Millersays. “A lot of people will read this and say ‘What’s the problem?’ “
It might be a more socially acceptable addiction, but alcoholism is at least three times costlier to treat than opioid addiction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s a far more complicated midlife crisis to address.
The proven approaches – taxes on alcohol and limits on where and when alcohol is sold – are often rejected because the liquor industry has considerable clout with policymakers.
Ron Byrd says his daughter Erika was“beautiful inside and out.”
To him, there’s no question about what caused her death.
That’s despite the fact there was no alcohol in her system when she was found dead at home. She was so sick, Byrd says, she hadn’t been able to eat or drink for days.
“The death certificate never says alcoholism,” hesays. “It said heart arrhythmia and heart valve disease. But nobody in our family had heart problems.”
Attorney Lisa Smith has been in recovery from alcohol and cocaine addiction for a decade. The New York City woman wrote the memoir “Girl Walks Out of a Bar” and co-hosts the podcast Recovery Rocks.
Smithspeaks at legal conferences and law firms such as Byrd’s about the hazards of lawyers’ high-stress days and booze-fueled dinners with clients. But she’s fighting forces far larger than her profession.
“It is poison, and we’re treating it like it’s something other than that because there‘s big corporate money behind it,” she says. “A lot of people are getting really rich on something that is toxic to us.”
Deaths of despair
In its Pain in the Nation report this year, the Well Being Trust called losses from drugs, alcohol and suicide “despair deaths.”
The three are closely related. Suicide is the third leading cause of death from alcohol, after cancers anddigestive diseases. One in five individuals who die from opioid overdoses have alcohol in their system at the time of their death.
Drinking can lead to cancers all along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the colon. About 15 percent of U.S. breast cancer cases are considered to be caused by alcohol. A third of those cases affected women who drank 1.5 drinks or less a week, according to a 2013 report in the American Journal of Public Health.
The “direct toxicity” of alcohol damages the nervous system from the brain down to the spinal cord and to peripheral nerves, says Marchetti, the Georgia emergency physician. It’s common for people in the late stages of alcoholism to have numbness in their feet and legs, which makes walking difficult even when they aren’t impaired.
Emergency rooms are the most expensive place to treat problems. Between 2008 and 2014, the rate of ER visits involving acute alcohol consumption rose nearly 40 percent, according to the study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. For chronic alcohol use, the rate rose nearly 60 percent.
The increases for acute and chronic alcohol use were larger for women.
People who drink throughout their lifetime develop a tolerance for alcohol. But as they age, they lose muscle and gain fat and become less tolerant.
That leads to increased injuries and illnesses, says Rick Grucza, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and lead author of the Alcoholism study.
But why are so many people drowning so many sorrows?
Brenda Padgett believes it was postpartum depression that led her daughter to take up the heavy drinking that ultimately killed her last year.
Ashley Hartshorn, who lived in Hendersonville, North Carolina, had already suffered the trauma of hearingher stepfather kill his girlfriend while she was on the phone.
Then Hartshorn testified against him in court, which helped send him to prison for life.
The depression came after the birth of her third child in February 2012.
“She wanted so badly to quit drinking, but the shame and the fear kept her from being able to allow herself to reach out for help,” Padgett says. “Like many, we were ignorant to the effects that alcohol has on the body. I thought she had time, time to hit rock bottom and time to seek help.
“I never knew that only five years of alcohol abuse could take the life of someone so young.”
Neither did Nancy Juracka. Her son Lance died in 2006 after just three years of heavy drinking. He was 36.
A new WHO report found that alcohol-related deaths continue to be a major issue, particularly among men.
More than 5% of worldwide deaths can be attributed to alcohol, according to a new report.
The data was part of a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that is released every four years, according to the Guardian.
The report found that of the approximately 3 million alcohol-related deaths per year, about 2.3 million in 2016 were men. It also noted that nearly 29% of deaths caused by alcohol were the result of injuries, including driving incidents and suicides.
A standout finding of the report was the toll that alcohol takes on younger generations. For example, the report found that 13.5% of deaths in those in their 20s were linked to alcohol somehow, while alcohol was held responsible for 7.2% of premature deaths in all.
Despite the fact that worldwide alcohol-related deaths have decreased from 5.9% to 5.3% since 2012, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a WHO alcohol-control expert who was involved in the report, tells the Guardian that the results are not something to take lightly.
If you are an alcoholic who consciously wants to stop drinking but can’t; a heavy drinker who never gives any thought to whether or not you are drinking too much, or a social drinker who believes that drinking is important, compelling you to continue with the addiction – these 8 reasons will convince you to …
If you are an alcoholic who consciously wants to stop drinking but can’t; a heavy drinker who never gives any thought to whether or not you are drinking too much, or a social drinker who believes that drinking is important, compelling you to continue with the addiction – these 8 reasons will convince you to quit drinking the poison right away, come what may.
Alcohol Causes Cancer
American Cancer Society says the amount of alcohol consumed over time, not the type of alcoholic beverage, is the most important factor in raising cancer risk. Alcohol is a known cause of cancers of the Mouth, Throat (pharynx), Voice box (larynx), Esophagus, Liver, Colon and Rectum, Breast, and Pancreas. For each of these cancers, the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, alcoholism can lead to malnutrition [because alcohol suppresses the appetite], which leads to inadequate intake and absorption of food and nutrients. For this reason, even heavy drinkers who consume high levels of nutrient-rich food, fail to get the full benefit of those nutrients.
Alcohol Affects B-12 Absorption
Drinking alcohol, even in moderation, can have profound effects on the way your body absorbs vitamin B-12, the deficiency of which leads to heart attack and stroke, megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, tingling and numbness in the extremities, headache, dementia, disorientation, loss of concentration and memory, and even death.
Alcohol Destroys Liver – Forever
Between 10 and 20% of heavy drinkers develop liver cirrhosis – severe scarring and disruption of the normal structure of the liver not reversible with abstinence. Alcohol abuse is one of the three most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver in the US; according to the National Institutes of Health, liver cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease.
Alcohol Is A Depressant
Some people use alcohol to calm their nerves, to soothe their anxiety and to relieve stress. But alcohol is not a medication. Alcohol is a depressant, which actually worsens anxiety by changing the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain; that’s why some people feel more anxious after the alcohol wears off.
Alcohol can damage the inner lining of the stomach, the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder; alter the structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract; and lead to abdominal discomfort, stomachaches, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Alcohol Affects Sleep Quality
While many drinkers would argue that alcohol helps them fall asleep a little faster, researchers at the University of Melbourne have found that alcohol just before sleep can lead to poorer quality slumber. You’re more likely to wake up during the night, and may not feel as rested following your sleep.
“People tend to feel that alcohol helps them fall asleep a little quicker, and therefore people associated that with helping them sleep. But when you actually go and look at what is happening while they sleep, the quality of that sleep isn’t good.”
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. But with alcohol, the line between “moderate use” and “dangerous use” can be a thin one.
We don’t trust nutrition studies funded by soda companies. Why would we trust alcohol studies funded by the booze industry?
Officials at the government agency tasked with studying the health effects of alcohol aggressively courted alcohol executives to fund a $100 million clinical trial on “moderate drinking,” according to recently published investigations by The New York Times, Wired and Stat.
The executives complied, according to the Times, with the understanding that this research would probably conclude alcohol is safe and lowers the risk of disease.
Together, these reports paint a disturbing picture about the way alcohol companies are trying to influence scientific understanding, and thus public perception, of alcohol as a health tonic.
If you’ve ever seen headlines about how red wine is good for your heart, or how moderate alcohol use is linked to longer life, you’ve seen the alcohol industry’s influence on health science at work. And Americans seem to be swallowing that message. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 1 in 5 Americans believe “moderate” drinking is good for health, and that this was especially true among those who drink alcohol.
This belief is a boon for the alcohol industry for at least two reasons: It links alcohol consumption to a healthy lifestyle that can improve heart health, and it relies on the concept of “moderation,” a squishy term that in practice ends up meaning whatever drinkers want it to mean.
Alcohol executives were allowed to help pick the scientists and preview the trial’s design, reports the Times, while Wired reported on how dependent the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is on industry funding to complete the expensive, long-term study. Finally, Stat has a story about how scientists who published unflattering research about the alcohol industry were verbally abused by NIAAA officials and cut off from funding.
It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector ― to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this. David Jernigan, Boston University School of Public Health.
Even though the scientists involved in these studies, all from prestigious universities, may insist that they have independence in their work, studies show that research funded by the food industry is four to eight times more likely to conclude something that financially benefits the sponsor. Industry-funded research also tends to suppress negative data. When pharmaceutical companies fund studies, the findings are less likely to be published than research funded by other sources.
“The obvious conflict of interest is that the funder of this research stands to benefit when the research comes out with findings that encourage more people to use its products,” said David Jernigan, a professor at the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health. “It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector ― to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this.”
Why food and drink companies love the word ‘moderation’
Research on the concept of “moderation” reveals that the more a person likes a food or drink, the bigger their definition of what a “moderate” serving is. And food and beverage companies may be using that to their advantage, said Michelle vanDellen, an expert in self-control and eating behaviors at the University of Georgia.
“I don’t know if food and beverage companies have done research on moderation,” she said. “I have, and I know that moderation messages are poorly defined, they increase the scope of what is considered healthy and they lead to increased intended consumption.”
When it comes to alcohol, at least, there is a seemingly objective unit of measurement for moderation: up to one drink a day for women, and up to two drinks a day for men, as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These amounts form the basis of claims that alcohol may have a positive effect on health.
But careful analyses have debunked the association between moderate alcohol consumption and health by taking the “abstainer bias” into account. People who currently abstain from alcohol include those who have never consumed it and former drinkers. But many former drinkers have quit alcohol for health reasons, so the “abstainer” group is already biased toward worse health overall than a group of people who are still moderate drinkers and haven’t had to quit because of their health.
“They found that binge drinking was most common among adults aged 18 to 34, but more than half of all binge drinks consumed were from adults ages 35 years and older. In other words, older drinkers don’t binge drink as often, but they tend to really hit the bottle when they do.”
Americans are no strangers to boozing it up, according to a new study that found that one in six US adults are binge drinkers. Alcohol enthusiasts in the US are chugging a collective 17.5 billion “binge drinks” per year.
The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, found that 37.4 million Americans, or one out of every six adults, binge drink about once a week. They drink an average of about seven drinks per binge, meaning they chug a collective 17.5 billion drinks each year. That boils down to about 470 binge drinks, per binge drinker, annually.
“This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” study co-author Robert Brewer, lead researcher in the CDC’s alcohol program, said in a statement.
The results came after Brewer and his team examined CDC data from the center’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The team used the data to calculate annual estimates of binge drinking, which is defined as men drinking five or more drinks over the course of two hours, or women drinking four or more drinks over the same period. A single drink is defined as a shot of hard liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine, or a 12-ounce glass of beer at five percent alcohol.
Once the team examined the data, they divided the findings by age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and state. They found that binge drinking was most common among adults aged 18 to 34, but more than half of all binge drinks consumed were from adults ages 35 years and older. In other words, older drinkers don’t binge drink as often, but they tend to really hit the bottle when they do.
When males and females were compared side-by-side, it was revealed that men are much more likely to be binge drinkers. In fact, four out of five binge drinks were found to be consumed by males. Income also played a role, as the researchers found that people with lower household incomes (less than $25,000 annually) and lower educational levels (less than high school) “consumed substantially more” than those with higher salaries and education levels.
Comparing the race of binge drinkers, the researchers found the biggest drinkers were non-Hispanic whites (19.2 percent) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (17.9 percent). Most binge drinkers were located in Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Hawaii. Meanwhile, Washington DC, New Jersey, New York, and Washington had the fewest numbers of binge drinkers.
The results demonstrate there is a need to focus on the prevention of excessive drinking, according to Brewer. “The findings also show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge,” he said.
It is worth noting that America’s binge drinking is likely worse than the study implies, as the BRFSS relies on self-reported data from a phone survey, and study respondents are thought to underreport their drinking habits. The CDC study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Friday,was based on a survey from 2015 that asked around 400,00 Americans over the age of 18 about their alcohol consumption “in the past 30 days.”
Binge drinking is responsible for more than half of the 88,000 alcohol-attributable deaths in the US each year, according to the CDC. It is also the cause of 75 percent of the $249 billion in economic costs associated with excessive drinking in the US.
A major Canadian observational study identified alcohol use disorders as the biggest risk factor for the onset of dementia. It’s also the most preventable factor, so people wary of early-onset dementia can avoid it by controlling their alcohol intake, reported a ScienceDaily article.
Implemented by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, the study took a very close look at the effect of alcohol use disorders. To this end, it canvassed the health records of more than a million French citizens.
The study included patients with mental and behavioral disorders or chronic diseases caused by chronic heavy drinking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “chronic heavy drinking” is defined as the daily consumption of more than 60 grams of pure alcohol for men and 40 grams for women. WHO identifies alcohol consumption as the root cause of more than 200 diseases and injuries, including mental and behavioral disorders.
For their study, CAMH researchers viewed 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia, where the patient developed dementia before turning 65. They found that 57 percent of these cases were linked to chronic heavy drinking.
The significant association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia led the authors to suggest several actions that would reduce the burden of dementia attributed to alcohol. They believed screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders would be highly effective in curbing the onset of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” remarked Dr. Jürgen Rehm, the co-author of the massive study and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.
He warned that alcohol use disorders have been proven to reduce life expectancy by more than 20 years. He identified dementia as a major cause of death for people who suffered from alcohol-related disorders.
More women suffer from dementia, but more men get early-onset dementia
Dr. Rehm and his team identified a major gender split for early-onset dementia patients. Women comprised the majority of dementia patients, but two out of every three early-onset dementia patients turned out to be men.
Other independent risk factors for the onset of dementia included smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and hearing loss. These factors are also linked to alcohol use disorders.
The data from the study imply that alcohol use disorders can increase the risk of dementia in more ways than one.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” said Dr. Bruce Pollock, co-author and Vice-President of Research for CAMH.
Much like his colleague, Dr. Pollock advised treating the alcohol use disorder ahead of time before dementia takes over.
“Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care,” he said.
One limitation of the study was that it only covered the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder. The authors explained that they focused on cases that required hospitalization.
Patients are often reluctant to report alcohol-related problems due to social stigma regarding alcoholics. The correlation between alcoholism and dementia could be even higher than the study has shown.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone