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US Cancels A Planned Alcohol Study Over Trust Issues

NIH Director Francis Collins temporarily suspended the study

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A photo made with a fisheye lens shows bottles of alcohol in a liquor store in Salt Lake City. The National Institutes of Health said Friday that it was canceling a study of moderate drinking's health benefits because the results could not be trusted. Beer and liquor companies were helping to underwrite it.
This June 16, 2016, file photo, taken with a fisheye lens, shows bottles of alcohol during a tour of a state liquor store, in Salt Lake City. Cheap liquor, wine and beer have long been best-sellers among Utah alcohol drinkers, but new numbers from Utah's tightly-controlled liquor system show local craft brews, trendy box wines and flavored whiskies are also popular choices in a largely teetotaler state. VOA
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The U.S. government is shutting down a planned study testing whether moderate drinking has health benefits over concerns that its funding by the alcohol industry would compromise its credibility.

The National Institutes of Health said Friday that the results of the planned $100 million study could not be trusted because of the secretive way that employees negotiated with beer and liquor companies to underwrite the effort.

Government officials say it is legal to use industry money to pay for government research as long as all rules are followed. However, in this case, NIH officials say employees did not follow proper procedures, including keeping their interactions with industry officials secret.

NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak said the interactions between the employees and industry representatives appeared to “intentionally bias” the study so that it would have a better chance to conclude that moderate drinking is beneficial.

An NIH review panel was also concerned that the study’s proposed span of 10 years was too short a time period to adequately test the potential problems of a daily drink, such as an increased risk of cancer or heart failure.

Red wine
Red wine, Pixabay

NIH Director Francis Collins temporarily suspended the study last month after reporting by The New York Times first raised questions about the funding policy violations. Collins said Friday that he was completely shutting down the research.

“This is a matter of the greatest seriousness,’’ he said.

The study had planned to track two groups of people, one group drinking a glass of alcohol a day and another abstaining from alcohol. The study had planned to compare new cases of cardiovascular disease and the rate of new cases of diabetes among participants.

Some of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage makers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken, had contributed to the study, although Anheuser-Busch InBev had recently withdrawn its contribution.

The NIH said of the $67.7 million raised from private donations, nearly all from the alcohol industry, $11.8 million, had been spent for the study.

Also read: New Link Found Between Alcohol, Genes And Heart Failure

The NIH’s National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) had planned to spend $20 million of its own money for the study. It said $4 million had been spent.(VOA)

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Cannabis Use Has Lasting Effects on Cognitive Skills in Teenagers Than Alcohol

Moreover, these increased with cannabis use and also were long-lasting compared to alcohol

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cannabis flower marijuana

While both alcohol and marijuana misuse are known to be associated with impairments in learning, memory, attention and decision-making, as well as with lower academic performance, a new study claimed that cannabis use has lasting effects on cognitive skills in teenagers than alcohol.

The findings, led by researchers at Universite de Montreal, showed cannabis affected cognitive functions such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory and inhibitory control.

Moreover, these increased with cannabis use and also were long-lasting compared to alcohol.

“Increases in cannabis use, but not alcohol consumption, showed additional concurrent and lagged effects on cognitive functions such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory and inhibitory control,” said Patricia Conrod, from the varsity.

“Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviours, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions,” added Jean-Francois G. Morin, doctoral student at Montreal.

Cannabis
Cannabis more ‘toxic’ to teenage brains than alcohol: Study. Pixabay

“Some of these effects are even more pronounced when consumption begins earlier in adolescence,” Morin added.

For the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the team followed a sample of 3,826 Canadian high school students from 7th to 10th grade over a period of four years.

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In a context where policies and attitudes regarding substance use are being reconsidered, this research highlights the importance of protecting youth from the adverse effects of consumption through greater investment in drug-prevention programmes.

“While this study did not detect effects of teenage alcohol consumption on cognitive development, the neurotoxic effects may be observable in specific subgroups differentiated based on the level of consumption, gender or age,” Morin said. (IANS)

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