Health Updates 11 January 2012

  • Young adults down 9 drinks when they binge: College-age drinkers average nine drinks when they get drunk, government health officials said Tuesday.  That surprising statistic is part of a new  report highlighting the dangers of binge drinking, which usually means four to five drinks at a time.  Overall, 1 in 6 US adults surveyed said they had binged on alcohol at least once in the previous month, though it was more than 1 in four for those ages 18 to 34.  And that’s likely an underestimate: Alcohol sales figures suggest people are buying a lot more alcohol than they say they are consuming.  Health officials estimate that about half the beer, wine and liquor consumed in the United States by adults each year is downed during binge drinking.” (Huffington Post)
  • Marijuana smoking does not harm lungs, study finds: “A large new government study has found that smoking marijuana on a regular basis, even over many years, does not impair lung function.  Marijuana, the country’s most widely used illicit drug, has become increasingly popular and less stigmatized in recent years, particularly among young adults….The new research is one of the most extensive looks to date at whether long-term marijuana use causes pulmonary damage, and specifically whether its impact on the lungs is as harmful as smoking cigarettes.” (NY Times)
  • Nicotine patches, gum no help: “Smokers are no more likely to give up cigarettes for good by using nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum than if they did not use those quit-smoking aids, a prospective cohort study showed….’The results of this representative study of recent quitters raise serious questions regarding the population-level effectiveness of widely popular cessation medications used with or without behavioral counseling’,” Harvard healthcare professionals observed.  (Nancy Walsh, MedPage Today)
  • Diabetes expert disses weight-loss programs: “Community-based weight-loss programs have not been shown to be effective at reducing the incidence of diabetes, so implementing a national program would likely be money down the drain, a diabetes expert said at a symposium on Tuesday.  Richard Kahn, PhD, who was the chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association for nearly 25 years, delivered remarks to public health advocates and diabetes researchers at the Health Affairs briefing Tuesday, where his remarks stood in stark contrast to the ‘prevention works’ message of the event’s other speakers.  He told those in attendance – some of whom are involved in community-based weight-loss interventions – that ‘community programs are ineffective at achieving weight loss’.” (Emily P. Walker, MedPage Today)

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