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Alcohol Issues Insights

Not long after researchers at Kaiser-Permanente announced widely reported findings that supported the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer last month came a new, extensive joint report with similar news from the World Cancer Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research. Following a 5-year extensive review of over 7,000 studies, the groups' nine independent teams of experts came to 3 "overall" conclusions about alcohol: Alcoholic drinks are a cause of cancers of a number of sites and that, in general, the evidence is stronger than it was in the mid-1990s. The evidence does not show any 'safe limit' of intake. The effect is from ethanol, irrespective of the type of drink. The panel determined there was "convincing" evidence that alcohol beverages increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectum (men), breast (women). They also found "probable" links to liver cancer and colorectal cancer for women. It is "unlikely," they added, that alcohol has a "substantial adverse effect on the risk of kidney cancer." Finally, "there's no significant evidence that alcohol protects against any cancer." The panel did not focus solely on alcohol. It also concluded, for example, that excess body fat is linked…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 11
The latest sign that John McCardell's proposal to re-open the minimum age debate has gotten traction: the national president of MADD and the deputy secretary of transportation both raised the issue during their testimony at a hearing on federal drunk driving efforts in Washington on October 25. After advocating MADD's year-old "Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving," Glynn Birch closed his remarks by noting "there has been some debate about the 21 minimum drinking age in the media." But "there is no controversy in the science," he insisted, which is "overwhelming" in support of the "fact that when the drinking age was lowered" highways deaths increased and "when it was raised, deaths and injuries decreased

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 10
Recently released detail from the 2006 Monitoring the Future annual national surveys adds to the information available about youth alcohol preferences (see August AII). Fifteen-year trend data (not available for all products in each age group), shows a remarkably steady decline in the percentage of students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades who drink beer. Meanwhile, the percentage of high school seniors who drink wine increased slightly from 1991 to 1996, but subsequently declined. In contrast, the percentage of 12th graders who drink liquor increased from 1991 through 2001 and then declined slightly, but remained higher in 2006 than 15 years earlier. The dropoffs in beer consumption were especially sharp among the oldest students. From 1991 to 2006, the percentage of high school seniors who consumed beer (in the 30 days prior to the survey) fell from 47.2% to 35.5%, a dropoff in the rate of nearly one-quarter. There was a similar dropoff among 8th graders, a less steep drop among 10th graders. If you go back 30 years, the percentage of high school seniors who drink beer dropped by a remarkable 41%. (Some high school seniors were legal drinkers in 1976.) The percentage of high school seniors who drank…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 9
Too often, neither policy nor public opinion follows science. Case in point: after decades of research linking moderate alcohol consumption to better heart health - and reduced risks for a number of common diseases - the public by and large continues to be unaware of this link. Just 22% of American adults think drinking in moderation (1-2 drinks/day) is "good for health," according to a July 2007 Gallup Poll. Half believe moderation "makes no difference" and 1/4 believe moderation is "bad for health." Those figures are barely changed since 2001 when Gallup first asked the question and the breakdown was 22%/46%/27%. (The remainder in each year is "no opinion.") The fact that a higher percentage of adults think moderate drinking is bad for health than positive is especially distressing, and yet another example that Americans' attitudes toward alcohol remain sharply divided. This year's Gallup Poll also found that about 2/3 of Americans drink alcohol, unchanged for a decade. Another constant: the vast majority of drinkers doesn't drink very often, or is unwilling to admit it. Only 1/3 of drinkers say they drink more than a few times per week. Only 14% of drinkers say they consume 1+ drink per day.…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 8
Together with the Surgeon General's recent "Call to Action" on underage drinking, RAND's recommendations to SAMHSA and the OJJDP meeting in Orlando (see elsewhere in this issue), CDC's recent flurry of research activity suggests an up-tick in federal attention to alcohol policy issues. A new Centers for Disease Control study that found adult "binge" drinkers are much more likely to consume beer than spirits or wine got widespread media coverage last week. Associated Press, Reuters and numerous local print and electronic media covered the story. Using survey data from 14 states, CDC found that among those who said they'd consumed 5 or more drinks on at least one occasion in the 30 days prior to the survey, 74% said they mainly or exclusively drank beer, 17% said liquor and 9% said wine. That's while beer represents 55% of all alcohol consumed in the US (a number that's dropping) with liquor at 31%, wine 14%. The findings are supported by the latest Gallup Poll. Gallup found that among the 22% of drinkers who admit to "sometimes drinking more than you should," those who "most often" drank beer were more likely to say they drank too much on occasion. Almost 1/3 of…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 8
Once again, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made significant changes to data on highway crash deaths after its earlier projections. Back in May, NHTSA had projected a 0.3% decline in total crash deaths in 2006. More important, it then projected a significant 2.4% increase in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. But final figures announced in late July showed a 2% decline in total traffic fatalities, and just a 0.1% increase in alcohol-related fatalities. Then again, NHTSA revised its 2005 figures for at least the 2d time, so further revisions may yet emerge. In any case, it's clear that progress in reducing drunk driving, at least as measured by alcohol-related crash deaths, has stalled in recent years. That's likely to spur calls for more aggressive enforcement and other counter measures. Ignition interlock proposals are getting increased attention from industry members and policymakers alike. Indeed, as INSIGHTS went to press, Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Assn released a joint statement that voiced support for "mandatory use of ignition interlocks for offenders with repeat DWI convictions and for drivers convicted of drunk driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher, even for a first time offense." Meanwhile, a recent…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 7