26 January 2022 In Drinking Patterns

INTRODUCTION: The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol were released in 2020 by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Based on the latest evidence, the guidelines provide advice on how to keep the risk of harm from alcohol low. They refer to an Australian standard drink (10 g ethanol).

RECOMMENDATIONS: *Guideline 1: To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than ten standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol. *Guideline 2: To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol. *Guideline 3: To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.

CHANGES AS RESULT OF THE GUIDELINE: The recommended limit for healthy adults changed from two standard drinks per day (effectively 14 per week) to ten per week. The new guideline states that the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol. The recommended maximum on any one day remains four drinks (clarified from previously "per drinking occasion"). Guidance is clearer for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and for people aged less than 18 years, recommending not drinking.

26 April 2017 In Cancer

The occurrence of more than 200 diseases, including cancer, can be attributed to alcohol drinking. The global cancer deaths attributed to alcohol-consumption rose from 243,000 in 1990 to 337,400 in 2010. In 2010, cancer deaths due to alcohol consumption accounted for 4.2% of all cancer deaths. Strong epidemiological evidence has established the causal role of alcohol in the development of various cancers, including esophageal cancer, head and neck cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. The evidence for the association between alcohol and other cancers is inconclusive. Because of the high prevalence of ALDH2*2 allele among East Asian populations, East Asians may be more susceptible to the carcinogenic effect of alcohol, with most evidence coming from studies of esophageal cancer and head and neck cancer, while data for other cancers are more limited. The high prevalence of ALDH2*2 allele in East Asian populations may have important public health implications and may be utilized to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related cancers among East Asians, including: 1) Identification of individuals at high risk of developing alcohol-related cancers by screening for ALDH2 polymorphism; 2) Incorporation of ALDH2 polymorphism screening into behavioral intervention program for promoting alcohol abstinence or reducing alcohol consumption; 3) Using ALDH2 polymorphism as a prognostic indicator for alcohol-related cancers; 4) Targeting ALDH2 for chemoprevention; and 5) Setting guidelines for alcohol consumption among ALDH2 deficient individuals. Future studies should evaluate whether these strategies are effective for preventing the occurrence of alcohol-related cancers.

AIMS: To identify how current public health policies of 12 developed countries assess alcohol-related problems, the goals and targets that are set and the strategic directives proposed.

METHODS: Policy documents on alcohol and on general public heath were obtained through repeated searches of government websites. Documents were reviewed by two independent observers.

RESULTS: All the countries studied state that alcohol causes substantial harm to individual health and family well-being, increases crime and social disruption, and results in economic loss through lost productivity. All are concerned about consumption of alcohol by young adults and by heavy and problem drinkers. Few aim to reduce total consumption. Only five of the countries set specific targets for changes in drinking behaviour. Countries vary in their commitment to intervene, particularly on taxation, drink-driving, the drinking environment and for high-risk groups. Australia and New Zealand stand out as having coordinated intervention programmes in most areas.

CONCLUSIONS: Policies differ markedly in their organization, the goals and targets that are set, the strategic approaches proposed and areas identified for intervention. Most countries could improve their policies by following the recommendations in the World Heath Organization's European Alcohol Action Plan.

AIM: In order to potentially enhance the impact of most effective policies and interventions in reducing the population level damage from alcohol, a new perspective with regard to education and persuasion interventions is offered.

METHODS: Recent studies were examined on the global burden of alcohol and also those focusing on the links between overall consumption and high-risk drinking, on one hand, and drinking-related damage on the other hand. A synopsis of main findings from reviews and other analysis provides the basis for conclusions about the impacts of education and persuasion interventions.

RESULTS: There is a relative absence of evidence of the effectiveness of education and persuasion in reducing consumption, curtailing high-risk drinking or reducing damage from alcohol. This is in contrast to the rising levels of damage from alcohol, and also to the demonstrated effectiveness of certain alcohol policies and interventions, as summarized in Babor et al.

CONCLUSIONS: Given that only a small fraction of education and persuasion interventions have any positive impact, generating 'more of the same' is not an impact-effective and cost-efficient approach. Therefore, interventions that have not been shown to be effective need to be phased out and those most effective and of widest scope should receive more attention and enhanced resources. A reframing of the roles and foci of persuasion interventions is advised, including, for example, focusing on informing policy-makers, and stimulating public discussions about the rationale of alcohol policies and the roles that citizens can play in promoting and supporting these policies.

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