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Teen drinking linked to parents' habits

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This survey shows how important a good example is.  Way too many young people today drink alcohol, and drink it excessively.  Family and friends can both influence these numbers.  Don't let your family and friends be destroyed by alcohol.  Be a good example of someone who has lots of fun without getting  drunk.  Your example really does make a difference.

Now that we know that even just a small amount of alcohol kills brain cells, lets strive to make a positive difference in the lives of people around us.  You don't have to preach, just set a good example.


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The survey:

A survey has revealed that “children who see their parents drunk are twice as likely to regularly get drunk themselves,” reported BBC News. Several newspapers also covered this news story.

The reports are of a survey conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity that funds a nationwide research and development programme aimed at better understanding the UK’s social problems and how these can be overcome. As one of its research projects, the foundation conducted this study, published today, which explored the relationship that young people in the UK have with alcohol, and the factors that influence their drinking habits.

The report, called “Young people, alcohol and influences”, presents the findings of a survey of 5,700 teenagers aged 13–14 years old (year 9) and 15–16 (year 11) in schools in England. The study gathered information on the students’ drinking patterns and looked into the wide range of factors that can influence them, such as family, media and the area in which they live. The researcher wanted to get a better understanding of the relative importance of these factors when considering how best to tackle drinking in young people.


What did the report find?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted the report with two main aims:

  • to examine the circumstances surrounding a young person’s first drink, and to look at their current drinking patterns, including the amount consumed and experiences of drunkenness
  • to improve understanding of what really influences a young person’s drinking pattern by identifying the factors that most strongly influence their behaviour

The key findings of the report were:

  • 70% of year 9 students and 89% of year 11 students had had an alcoholic drink, but regular drinking was more common among year 11 students than those in year 9.
  • The most common age for having a first alcoholic drink was 12–13 years old, and this usually took place in the presence of an adult and when celebrating a special occasion.
  • Drinking more frequently was most likely:
    − if the teen received less supervision from a parent or other close adult
    − if they spent more than two evenings a week with friends, especially if these friends drank
    − if they were exposed to a close family member, especially a parent, whom they saw drinking or getting drunk
    − if they thought positively about drinking and its effects
    − if alcohol was easily accessible
  • The report also found that while friends clearly play an important influential role, family has a direct effect on teens’ behavior. Parents or guardians are often involved in a child’s first experience of alcohol, exposing them to drunkenness, and are responsible for the amount of supervision a teenager is given (such as knowing where they are on evenings when they are away from home).


How much are young people drinking?

As indicated above, the majority of teens in years 9 and 11 had had at least one alcoholic drink. In the lower school year, girls were more likely to have had a drink than boys, though the gap closed by the later school year.

Of year 9 students who reported ever drinking alcohol:

  • 47% drank at least once a month
  • 20% drank every week
  • 27% had had a drink in the week before the survey
  • 47% had one or two drinks the last time they drank

Of year 11 students who drank alcohol:

  • 72% drank at least once a month
  • 39% drank every week
  • 49% had had a drink in the week before the survey
  • 25% had six or more drinks the last time they drank

In year 9, 39% of those who had drank alcohol in the past week had consumed seven units or more, while in year 11 the same proportion drank 14 units or more. Just over half (54%) of the year 9 teens who had ever had an alcoholic drink reported that they had also been drunk on one or more occasions. Of year 11 drinkers, 79% had ever been drunk, with 52% reporting they had been drunk more than once. Of those who reported ever being drunk, 47% of year 9 and 66% of year 11 students said that they drink with their friends at least once a month with the primary aim of getting drunk.


What are they drinking?

The report found that year 9 students were most likely to drink alcopops (26% of drinks consumed) or beer or lager (29%), followed by spirits or liqueurs (22%), cider (13%) and wine or similar drinks (10%).

Year 11 students were most likely to drink beer or lager (35%), spirits or liqueurs (25%), followed by alcopops (17%), cider (12%) and wine (11%).

In both year groups, the survey found that those who drank beer and lager drank larger amounts than teens who drank other types of alcoholic drink.


What influences teens to drink?

Though family drinking habits and witnessing drunkenness among family members had a strong influence on drinking, the strongest influence on drinking was having friends who drink.

About 75% reported being with an adult when they drank for the first time. However, while both
year groups were most likely to have been drinking at home the last time they drank, the proportion was smaller in the older group: 43% of year 9 students were with parents or siblings when they last drank, compared to 34% of year 11 students, who were more likely to have had their last drink with friends (23% compared to 13% in year 9). The less parental or adult supervision that a teen had (for example, parents not knowing where they were on a Saturday night), the more likely they were to have a drink.

For those teens who had not had a drink, lack of interest in alcohol was the main factor identified. A young person’s religion, ethnicity and family values were also likely to predict whether the teen had had a drink.

The main influences of “current” drinking (drinking in the past week) were:

  • age: the younger a person was when they had their first drink, the more likely they were to have been drinking in the past week
  • expecting positive outcomes from drinking
  • most (rather than some or a few) of a young person’s friends also drinking
  • frequency of drinking in the family: a young person was more likely to be a current drinker if at least one member of their family drank each week
  • the circumstances of their first drink: those introduced to alcohol at a family celebration were less likely to be current drinkers, which the report says indicates some degree of family monitoring or supervision
  • easy access to alcohol

Similar factors influence current excessive drinking, with friends’ levels of drinking having the strongest influence. The risk of excessive drinking increases the more time the person spends with their friends. It is also affected by the age of the friends, with older friends or siblings influencing how easily teenagers could access alcohol. Factors affecting teens’ drunkenness are similar, though being extremely young when they had their first drink (under 6 years old) and witnessing family drunkenness had a very strong influence.

The report says that a young person has about double the odds of getting drunk multiple times if they have ever witnessed their parents drunk, compared with never seeing this (odds ratio 1.88, no confidence interval given).


What does the report conclude?

This report concludes that, though drinking among young people is not inevitable, a large proportion of teenagers do drink alcohol. The researchers consider that there is little benefit from policies aiming to prevent young people from trying alcohol, but that they should instead focus on preventing immediate and longer-term effects of drinking alcohol.

The report highlights the strongest influences on current, excessive and risky drinking, and says that the new government alcohol strategy offers the opportunity to set out a strong central policy and give a clear message to parents, local policy-makers and frontline services. The authors suggest that the best way of improving drinking behaviour could be to support and educate parents, giving them positive messages about how they can influence their child’s behaviour. They also stress the importance of the parent’s own drinking and how this affects their child’s perceptions of alcohol. Schools can also play an important role in challenging incorrect perceptions about the frequency and scale of heavy drinking among young people, providing information and getting targeted messages to parents.


Where can teens and parents find out more?

Live well: Drinking and alcohol

Alcohol concern: supporting problem drinking parents

Alcohol concern: making sense of alcohol


Links To The Headlines

Children who watch parents drink 'are twice as likely to binge on alcohol'. The Guardian, June 17 2011

Teenage drinking linked to parents' behaviour. BBC News, June 17 2011

How the evening G and T is harming the kids: Children who see parents drink 'more likely to binge'. Daily Mail, June 17 2011

Survey lifts lid on shock levels on teen binge drinking. Daily Mirror, June 17 2011


Links To Science

Young people, alcohol and influences. The Joseph Rowntree foundation 2011



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 15:42

Man has sight restored after 55 years

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Here is an unusual story about one man's good fortune.

This is not something that can be done successfully very often, so if you have eye sight, take good care of it.

Learn how to take care of your eyes HERE.

Here is the story:

After 55 years, a man who was blind in one eye has had his sight restored, The Daily Telegraph reported. The man was left completely blind in his right eye after being stuck by a stone when he was eight.

The 63-year-old man’s unique case was explained in a journal article that detailed his loss of vision due to a retinal detachment, where the light-sensitive retina peels off the back of the eye. The man then developed neovascular glaucoma (where abnormal new blood vessels begin growing inside the eye), which caused increased pressure in the eye, while clotted blood also collected in the chamber at the front of the eye. The man was not able to perceive any light in this eye. The case report described how after the blood was removed and the pressure in his damaged eye was reduced, the man was able to perceive some light for the first time in decades. This and the healthy color of his retina prompted his doctors to attempt to reattach his retina.

After two operations, the man was able to count fingers from a distance of five meters. The authors of the case report said: “to the best of our knowledge, there has been no previous similar report of visual recovery in a patient with long standing traumatic retinal detachment”. As this was a case report of one person, it is unclear whether similar outcomes could be achieved in other people with long-standing retinal detachment. Nevertheless, this report highlights that attempted reattachment may be an option even in people with long-standing retinal detachment.

Links To The Headlines

Sight restored after 55-year wait. BBC News, June 17 2011

Man regains sight in eye after 55 years. The Daily Telegraph, June 17 2011

New op lets man see again... after 55 years. Daily Express, June 17 2011


Links To Science

Olawoye O, Teng CC, Shabto U et al. Visual recovery in a patient with total hyphema, neovascular glaucoma, long-standing retinal detachment and no light perception vision: a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:221


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Have a great day!
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 July 2011 20:59

Cocaine addicts 'have brain changes'

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This is good science, because the researches admit that it is non-conclusive.

It may be a bit silly to say that even though healthy individuals do not have the same brain abnormalities as cocaine users it doesn't prove that the cocaine caused the abnormalities, it is never the less the truth.

Here is the report:

The Guardian reported that researchers have found that cocaine addiction is linked to “differences in key areas of grey matter affecting functions such as memory and attention”.

The study in question carried out brain scans and tests for impulsive and compulsive behaviour in 60 cocaine-dependent people and 60 healthy volunteers. It found that the cocaine-dependent individuals showed a reduction in the volumes of several areas of the brain, and increases in the volume in other areas. Differences in volume in certain areas appeared to be related to how long individuals had been using cocaine, and their levels of impulsivity and compulsivity.

One point to note is that a proportion of the cocaine-dependent people had other dependence problems, including nicotine dependence, and some also had alcohol dependence, cannabis dependence, or heroin dependence. These factors could also be related to the brain differences seen, rather than just the cocaine use.

This study increases what is known about the physical attributes of the brains of people who have cocaine dependency. However, it is not possible to say from this study whether the brain differences were present before cocaine use began or whether they are caused by cocaine use. As yet, it is not clear whether these findings will have direct implications for the diagnosis or treatment of cocaine addiction.


Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Cambridge and GlaxoSmithKline, and was funded by GlaxoSmithKline. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Brain.

This research was reported in The Guardian, which covered the study well and included a quote from the study’s author, highlighting the fact that the study cannot tell us whether the cocaine use or the brain changes came first.


What kind of research was this?

This cross-sectional study looked at whether there were any differences between the brains of cocaine-dependent and healthy individuals, and whether these were related to levels of compulsivity and impulsivity.

Various studies have suggested links between addiction, brain changes, impulsivity and compulsivity. For example, people who are impulsive are thought to be more likely to change from being recreational cocaine users to compulsive users, and chronic cocaine use is thought to further increase impulsivity. Studies have also suggested that addiction changes the frontostriatal networks. These are nerve networks that connect the front part of the brain (the frontal lobes) with an area called the basal ganglia in the central part of the brain. These networks may influence impulsive and compulsive behaviour.

The researchers wanted to test whether increases in impulsivity and compulsivity in cocaine users would be associated with detectable changes in these frontostriatal areas of the brain.

This type of study can tell us whether there is an association between two factors, but cannot tell us which one came first. This means that it cannot be used to say that one factor may have caused the other.


What did the research involve?

The researchers enrolled 60 cocaine-dependent individuals and 60 healthy volunteers. They took MRI brain scans of these people and assessed their impulsivity and compulsivity, and determined whether these tests showed any differences between the groups.

To be eligible to participate, individuals had to be 18–50 years old and in good physical health. Anyone with a major medical or neurological illness, those who had ever had a psychotic illness or traumatic head injury, and those who could not have a brain scan were excluded. The cocaine-dependent participants met internationally accepted criteria for cocaine dependence, were actively using cocaine, and were not seeking treatment. The healthy control volunteers reported that they had no history of drug abuse and were not taking prescribed or illegal drugs regularly, and did not meet criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. Urine samples were taken on the day of testing to ensure that the healthy controls were not taking illicit substances, and to assess whether the cocaine users were actively using cocaine.

The participants’ impulsivity and compulsivity were assessed using standard questionnaires and behavioural tasks. They were then given MRI brain scans to measure the volumes of certain areas of grey matter (the part of the brain containing the nerve cell bodies).

The researchers then compared the volumes of certain parts of the brain in the cocaine-dependent individuals and healthy controls. They then focused on any areas where they found differences, looking only in cocaine-dependent individuals, to see if grey matter volumes in these areas were related to differences in levels of impulsivity, compulsivity, or how long the person had been using cocaine.


What were the basic results?

The researchers found that the cocaine-dependent individuals had used the drug for an average of 10 years, starting at an average age of 21. The users had higher levels of impulsivity on the self-reported questionnaires than the healthy individuals, but not on the behavioural tests. They showed slower response time on these tests and problems with attention control.

The researchers found that the cocaine-dependent individuals had significantly different volumes of grey matter in several areas of the brain compared to healthy individuals. Most of these areas showed a reduction in volume in cocaine-dependent individuals, and the longer a person had been using cocaine, the greater the reduction in three areas of these areas (the orbitofrontal, cingulate and insular cortex). Some areas, known as the basal ganglia areas, showed an increase in the grey matter volume in cocaine-dependent individuals.

There were also differences in volume of certain brain areas between cocaine-dependent individuals with different levels of attention control or compulsive drug use. Cocaine-dependent individuals with less attention control had lower volume in the insular cortex but higher volume in the caudate nucleus. Cocaine-dependent individuals with more compulsive drug use had reduced volume in the orbitofrontal cortex.


How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that cocaine-dependent individuals had abnormalities in the structure of certain areas of the brain (corticostriatal systems). The changes in certain areas of the brain were related to differences in how long a person had been cocaine dependent, their level of inattention and the compulsiveness of their cocaine consumption.



This study has highlighted differences between the brains of individuals with cocaine dependency and healthy individuals. However, it is not possible to say from this study whether these brain differences were present before cocaine use began or whether they were caused by cocaine use. A prospective cohort study would be needed to determine which of these is the case. Other points to note include:

  • There were differences between the cocaine-dependent and healthy groups other than cocaine use. For example, the cocaine users had higher depressive scores than the healthy people, and fewer years in formal education (11.5 compared to 12.3 years). Most of the cocaine users also had nicotine dependence (83%), some also had alcohol dependence (27%), cannabis dependence (18%) and heroin dependence (7%). These factors may also have been related to the brain differences seen, rather than just the cocaine use.
  • The researchers note that impulsivity is a complex trait and that the measures they used would not have captured all aspects of it.

As yet, it is not clear whether these findings will have direct implications for the diagnosis or treatment of cocaine addiction.



Links To The Headlines

Cocaine addiction linked to brain abnormalities. The Guardian, June 21 2011



Links To Science

Ersche KD, Barnes A, Simon Jones P, et al. Abnormal structure of frontostriatal brain systems is associated with aspects of impulsivity and compulsivity in cocaine dependence. Brain 2011, First published online: June 20



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 17:26

Good And Bad Research

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As a researcher you find out that you can find information on just about anything.  You also discover that most of it is worthless.  Not only are there many contradictions in the research on just about any subject, there is no clear set of rules on how research should be done.

Most people believe that research is done in "scientific" ways to insure that the outcomes are accurate and reliable, but unfortunately this is a just a dream.  In reality researchers make up their own way of doing things dependent upon what they are trying to find out.  So the most important question is not what was the result of the study.

The more important questions are:

What was the researcher looking for?  What were the initial assumptions and preconceptions?  Was there a thorough review of other research on the subject with proper comparison? Was the study conducted in a method that could show meaningful results?  Was all data considered or only chosen parts?  Are the assumptions true?  What if assumptions are not true?

We have all been taught many things that it turns out are not true even though we grew up believing them.  Many of the major dogmas of science today are based on bad research rather than good.

Let's look at a few examples.

Carbon dating tells us how old things are.  But it''s not accurate even though many people say that it is.  It's basic assumptions are now know to be false, and yet still we are supposed to believe it.  It relies on constant cosmic bombardment of the earth to create carbon-14 at an even pace.  Cosmic bombardment of earth varies greatly.  Sometimes it stops completely for a day or so.  Records show it was 10 times faster than today's normal for a while back in the 700s.  It also relies on steady carbon-12 supplies, which we also know is not true.  It varies with volcanoes, earthquakes, wildfires, burning of fossil fuels, etc. Even in actual practice it is very obvious that carbon dating does not work.  Various samples taken from the remains of a dead animal will return widely varying ages.  From the same animal!  So in order to believe the results you have to assume that one part of the animal died thousands of years before another part of the very same animal.

And yet we have been trained to believe that it is an accurate method because "the experts" say so.  But we don't learn the truth until we ask the right questions and really look at the actual research.

Elevated cholesterol levels are supposed to send you running to get the latest cholesterol control drug.  However, looking at the research we realize that high cholesterol levels really are not associated with heart disease in most studies.  In fact we find out that people with high cholesterol levels are generally healthier than people with lower cholesterol levels.  There is insufficient research to show that high cholesterol levels are bad.  The idea is based on faulty assumptions of a study done in the 1950s.  Meanwhile we now know that cholesterol lowering drugs are very dangerous to human health.

These are just a couple of examples.  There are many others.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 January 2018 18:46

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