Tag Archives: Alcoholism

The Alcohol Harm Paradox

15 May

I had not heard of this relationship before and thought my readers might be interested. The alcohol harm paradox refers to the fact that “that people with low individual or neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES) show a greater susceptibility to the harmful effects of alcohol”

For example, in England:

Lower SES is associated with an almost two fold greater risk of alcohol related death compared with individuals in higher SES classifications.
Relative to high SES, low SES is associated with an increased risk of head and neck cancers, strokes, hypertension, liver disease and pre-term birth. These findings are independent of a number of other known risk factors for these conditions such as diet and smoking.

Here is a large study of the effect. It concludes:

Different SES measures appear to influence whether the Alcohol Harm Paradox is observed as a linear trend across SES groups or a phenomenon associated particularly with the most disadvantaged. The paradox also appears more concentrated in men and younger age groups

It would not surprise anyone that greater wealth affords greater protection from the vicissitudes of life, but other variables may play a role, such as class differences in the patterns of drinking behavior and the beverages consumed.

IQ and Alcohol Consumption

1 Mar

A paper published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research:

“Background
Studies of the association between IQ and alcohol consumption have shown conflicting results. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between IQ test results and alcohol consumption, measured as both total alcohol intake and pattern of alcohol use.

Methods
The study population consists of 49,321 Swedish males born 1949 to 1951 who were conscripted for Swedish military service 1969 to 1970. IQ test results were available from tests performed at conscription. Questionnaires performed at conscription provided data on total alcohol intake (consumed grams of alcohol/wk) and pattern of drinking. Multinomial and binomial logistic regressions were performed on the cross-sectional data to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Adjustments were made for socioeconomic position as a child, psychiatric symptoms and emotional stability, and father’s alcohol habits.

Results
We found an increased OR of 1.20 (1.17 to 1.23) for every step decrease on the stanine scale to be a high consumer versus a light consumer of alcohol. For binge drinking, an increased OR of 1.09 (95% CI = 1.08 to 1.11) was estimated for every step decrease on the stanine scale. Adjustment for confounders attenuated the associations. Also, IQ in adolescence was found to be inversely associated with moderate/high alcohol consumption measured in middle age.

Conclusions
We found that lower results on IQ tests are associated with higher consumption of alcohol measured in terms of both total alcohol intake and binge drinking in Swedish adolescent men.”

Ironically the account of this study in The Telegraph linked to this story:

Starbucks to offer wine and beer in evenings

Ten percent of drinkers consume more than half of all alcohol

29 Oct

Alcohol is America’s most serious drug problem. Contrary to industry propaganda, there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption. The health benefits claimed for alcohol do not survive critical scrutiny.

The Washington Post reports

“the top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year.”

According to Stanford researcher Philip J. Cook:

“One consequence is that the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry,” he writes writes. “If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent.”

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Hat tip to BoingBoing.

Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline

17 Jan

A paper published in the journal Neurology, looked at longitudinal data on alcohol consumption and early cognitive decline. They found that excessive alcohol consumption in men was linked to faster cognitive decline. Excessive consumption was defined as greater than 36 grams a day.

They found “no differences in cognitive decline among alcohol abstainers, quitters, and light or moderate alcohol drinkers.”

Thanks to Kathy H. for alerting me to this study.

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