Early Exposure To Alcohol Can Increases The Risk For Anxiety Later in Life

A study showed adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming. 

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drinking
"Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don't totally understand yet," said Subhash Pandey, Professor at the University of Illinois in the US. Pixabay

Are you a heavy drinker? Take note. Alcohol exposure early has lasting effects on the brain and increases the risk of anxiety in adulthood, say researchers, including one of an Indian-origin.

A study showed adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming.

“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves.

“Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don’t totally understand yet,” said Subhash Pandey, Professor at the University of Illinois in the US.

DNA
“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. 
Pixabay

“But what we do know is that epigenetic changes are lasting and increase susceptibility to psychological issues later in life, even if drinking that took place early in life is stopped,” said Pandey.

For the study, adolescent rats that underwent an assessment for anxiety were exposed to ethyl alcohol for two days on and two days off or to the same protocol using saline for 14 days.

The rats were allowed to mature to adulthood without any further exposure to alcohol.

brain
“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. 
Pixabay

The rats exhibited anxious behaviour later in life, even after the binge drinking regimen stopped in late adolescence. They also had lower levels of a protein called Arc in the amygdala.

Arc is important for the normal development of synaptic connections in the brain.

The findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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Rats with less Arc also had about 40 per cent fewer neuronal connections in the amygdala compared with rats that weren’t exposed to alcohol.

The decrease in Arc levels is caused by epigenetic changes that alter the expression of Arc, and an enhancer RNA, which modifies the expression of Arc. These changes are caused by adolescent alcohol exposure, said Pandey. (IANS)

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Scientists Identify 29 New Genes Linked To Drinking Problems

Scientists have identified 29 new genetic variants linked to problem drinking

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Drinking
Scientists spot 29 new genes behind problem drinking. Pixabay

Scientists have identified 29 new genetic variants linked to problem drinking, tripling the number of known genetic risks associated with alcohol disorders.

The team from Yale University in the US identified the new variants after a genome-wide analysis of more than 435,000 people.

“The new data triple the number of known genetic risk loci associated with problematic alcohol use,” said study senior author Joel Gelernter from Yale University in the US.

In genetics, a locus (plural loci) is a specific, fixed position on a chromosome where a particular gene or genetic marker is located. The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, includes genome-wide analysis of people of European ancestry contained in four separate biobanks or datasets.

“This gives us ways to understand causal relations between problematic alcohol use traits such as psychiatric states, risk-taking behaviour, and cognitive performance,” said study lead author Hang Zhou. “With these results, we are also in a better position to evaluate the individual-level risk for problematic alcohol use,” Gelernter noted.

drinking
A team from Yale University has identified new variants liked to drinking after a genome-wide analysis of more than 435,000 people. Pixabay

For the study, the researchers looked for shared genetic variants among those who met criteria for problematic alcohol use, including alcohol use disorder and alcohol use with medical consequences.

The analysis found 19 previously unknown independent genetic risk factors for problematic alcohol use and confirmed 10 previously identified risk factors. The information allowed researchers to study shared genetic associations between problematic drinking and disorders such as depression and anxiety.

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They also found genetic heritability of these variants was enriched in the brain and in evolutionarily conserved regulatory regions of the genome, attesting to their importance in biological function. (IANS)

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Plant Extracts May Help to Relieve Hangover Symptoms in Morning: Study

Hangover in morning? Drink plant extracts to relieve symptoms

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plant extracts hangover
A plant extract combination of fruits, leaves, and roots may help to relieve hangover symptoms in the morning, says a study. Pixabay

If you are suffering from headache and nausea after a drinking fiesta with friends last evening, read this carefully. A plant extract combination of fruits, leaves, and roots may help to relieve hangover symptoms in the morning, says a study.

The findings contradict the popular concept that hangovers are caused by a lack of electrolytes in the body — a combination of minerals that help balance acid levels. Various natural remedies have been recommended to ease hangover symptoms, but there is as yet no strong scientific evidence for their use.

In a bid to address that, the researchers from Johannes Gutenberg-University in Germany assessed the potential of specific plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidant compounds to ease a range of recognised physical and psychological symptoms associated with drinking alcohol.

The plant extracts included Barbados cherry (Acerola), prickly pear, ginkgo Biloba, willow and ginger root. The vitamins and minerals included magnesium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, zinc, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid.

plant extracts hangover
Various plant extracts and natural remedies have been recommended to ease hangover symptoms. (Representational Image). Pixabay

For the findings, published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, some 214 healthy 18-65-year-olds were randomly split into three groups and given a 7.5 g flavoured, water-soluble supplement 45 minutes before, and immediately after they stopped drinking any of beer, white wine, or a white wine spritzer.

Analysis of all the data showed that symptom intensity varied widely among the participants. But compared with the glucose only supplement, those taking the full supplement of plant extracts, minerals/vitamins, and antioxidants reported less severe symptoms.

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Average headache intensity was 34 per cent less, nausea 42 per cent less, while feelings of indifference fell by an average of 27 per cent and restlessness by 41 per cent. No significant differences or reductions were reported for any of the other symptoms, the researchers said.

Polyphenol and flavonoid compounds in each of the five plant extracts have been associated with curbing the physiological impact of alcohol in previously published experimental studies, the researchers explained. Their analysis also showed levels of water content in the body weren’t significantly associated with the amount of alcohol drunk.

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“The results suggest that alcohol-induced increased fluid excretion does not necessarily lead to a significant dehydration process. “It seems to be clear that hangover symptoms are predominantly caused by alcohol and its metabolites,” said the researchers.

Another study, published earlier this month in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, claimed that heavy drinker or people with a hangover have less ability to plan or set goals and make decisions the following day. (IANS)

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Find Out How Heavy Drinking Can Increase Stroke Risk

Heavy drinking can easily add 4 cm to your waistline

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drinking alcohol
Researchers now reveal that heavy drinking in old age was linked to a 1.5 inch (4cm) larger waist and increased stroke risk in men. Pixabay

Daily drinkers, please take note. Researchers now reveal that heavy drinking in old age was linked to a 1.5 inch (4cm) larger waist and increased stroke risk in men.

However, stopping heavy drinking at any point in life is likely to be beneficial for overall health.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, examined the association between heavy drinking over a lifetime and a range of health indicators including cardiovascular disease.

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“Alcohol misuse, despite the common perception of young people, binge drinking, is common among older adults, with alcohol-related hospital admissions in England being the highest among adults aged over 50,” said study first author Dr Linda Ng Fat from University College London in the UK.

For the findings, the researchers used data from the “Whitehall II” cohort, which collected information from UK civil servants, aged 34-56 years at study outset, since 1985-88.

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Stopping heavy drinking at any point in life is likely to be beneficial for overall health. Pixabay

The final sample for this study was made up of 4,820 older adults, aged between 59 and 83 years. The mean (average) age was 69, and 75 per cent were male. A heavy drinker was identified using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test for Consumption (AUDIT-C).

The screening tool consists of just three questions and assesses how often you drink, how much you drink, and how often you binge (have six or more drinks). Participants were asked on a single occasion to complete the AUDIT-C retrospectively for each decade of their life, from 16-19 to 80 and over.

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This information was used to categorise their life-time drinking pattern: never hazardous drinker, former early hazardous drinker (stopped before age 50), former later hazardous drinker (stopped at age 50 or after), current hazardous drinker, and consistent hazardous drinker (during every decade of their life).

More than half of drinkers (56 per cent) had been hazardous drinkers at some point in their life, with 21 per cent being current hazardous drinkers and 5 per cent being consistent hazardous drinkers.

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The findings showed that former early hazardous drinkers on average had a 1.17 cm larger waist than never hazardous drinkers, whereas former later hazardous drinkers, current hazardous drinkers and consistent hazardous drinkers had a waist circumference that was 1.88 cm, 2.44 cm and 3.85cm larger. respectively.

Overall, the research found that heavy alcohol consumption over a lifetime is associated with higher blood pressure, poorer liver function, increased stroke risk, larger waist circumferences and body mass index (BMI) in later life, even if you stop drinking heavily before age 50. (IANS)