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Alcohol Issues Insights

A number of factors at Alcohol Policy 14 underscored the lack of momentum in public health advocates' efforts to achieve their goals. First, policy changes have been mostly small and/or local, not broad or national. Second, the meeting offered a notable lack of new ideas or new voices. Finally, unlike MADD for example, public health advocates have not cohered around a single, hard-hitting message to advance policy. Instead, AP 14 reflected multiple agendas, diffuse voices and lack of consensus. This diffusion may have resulted from the Conference theme: "Engaging States and Local Communities in Prevention Policies." The 2

Publishing Info

  • Year 2008
  • Volume 25
  • Issue # 2
On top of the 3 new studies that linked moderate drinking to better health noted in last week's Update, a trio of even more positive studies appeared this week. Danish researchers found that adults who neither consumed alcohol nor exercised had a 30%-49% higher risk for heart disease than those who "either exercise, drink or both," as reported by Medical News Today. Most important, the lead researcher suggested that abstention, not drinking, may actually be risky behavior. "Neither physical activity alone nor alcohol intake can completely reverse the increased risk associated with alcohol abstention and lack of physical activity. Thus both moderate to high levels of physical activity and a moderate alcohol intake are important for lowering the risk of fatal IHD and deaths from all causes." (Our emphasis.) That startling conclusion followed reports of a UK study that found adopting 4 healthy behaviors - non-smoking, 5 daily servings of fruits/vegetables, physical activity, and moderate alcohol consumption - "predict a 4-fold difference in total mortality in men and women," and prolong life an additional 14 years, compared to those who adopt none of those behaviors. A third study found that among patients who had survived an acute heart attack, moderate…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2008
  • Volume 25
  • Issue # 1
What now? Industry members are not publicly celebrating the final dismissal/withdrawal of all of the attempted class action suits for alleged targeting of youth in ads/marketing. And the mainstream media has not even noted the suits' passing, despite the flurry of attention they drew when filed. But brewers, distillers, Beer Institute and others have to be quietly relieved/joyous that not one judge bought any of the arguments brought by plaintiffs' attorneys in seeking billions in "unlawful" sales/profits and an order to halt "abusive" marketing practices. In retrospect, the suits appear to have been nothing more than a roll of the dice by the plaintiffs to open a huge discovery proceeding in hopes of uncovering some "smoking gun"-type documents. They failed miserably. The lawsuits' inability to get any traction in numerous jurisdictions - recall that most were dismissed "with prejudice" and with strong language rejecting the suits' claims, language and logic -- should act as a deterrent to similar attempts. (The added deterrent of potentially having to pay the industry's legal fees will not apply. A petition for those fees was withdrawn in the Colorado case.) But given the advocates' fierce anti-marketing attitudes and their reliance on the slim science that…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2007
  • Volume 24
  • Issue # 12
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