Alcohol link to dementia warning

Older people are to be given a government health warning about the increased risk of dementia as a result of drinking.

The stop drinking advice will be given to middle-aged patients during the regular ‘MOT’ visits to their GP.

The role played by alcohol in increasing the risk of dementia, frailty and disability in ageing has been highlighted by recent research.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is proposing that lifestyle advice should be included in NHS health checks to all patients aged between 40 and 74.

There is increasing medical evidence to suggest that even moderate drinking, within the current health guidelines, may be harmful to health.

NHS guidelines recommend men drink no more than three to four units daily and women only two or three.

Alcohol abuse higher in intelligent people


London: Intelligent men and women are far more likely to drink heavily, a new study by the UK’s Medical Research Council has discovered.

The stress of working in a pressurised environment is a factor, particularly for businesswomen in male-dominated professions, says the report which is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

They now suspect, however, that the stressful jobs of high- flying professionals drive them to drink. Intelligent women may be particularly susceptible if they are struggling to do well in male-dominated professions.

The research, led by David Batty of the MRC’s social and public health sciences unit at Glasgow University, says: “An explanation might be that success in the workplace requires, in some circumstances, a willingness to drink frequently and to excess in social situations.”

A group of 8,170 men and women born in Britain during one week in 1970 were studied. Their mental ability at age 10 was compared with information about their alcohol consumption and drink problems at age 30.

The academics found that men and women with higher childhood mental ability scores had higher rates of problem drinking in adulthood. The increased risk of drink problems was higher for intelligent women than men.

The study found that men and women who confessed to drinking most days had the highest childhood mental ability scores, whereas those who reported that they never had alcohol had the lowest mental ability scores.

The proportion of women with a history of alcohol problems was highest among women with professional and managerial jobs. The study found that 47% of men and 22% of women were drinking in excess of the recommended limits of 21 units a week for men and 14 units a week for women.

The government is investigating how to deal with Britain’s heavy drinking culture, including the possibility of restricting shops’ cut-price promotions of alcohol. Another problem is middle-class adults drinking at home.

Alcohol-related deaths continue to rise in Britain. In 2006, the figure increased to 12.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 13.4 in 2006 (Office for National Statistics) with a doubling in the period from 1991 and 2006.

Free guide to identifying alcohol abuse


London: A valuable guide, designed to help identify substance abuse in loved ones, is now available. ‘Beginning Recovery’ is the title of the new guide, published by Winthrop Hall – the UK’s only purpose built drug and alcohol treatment centre.

Coping with the stresses and strains of modern living can be a test for the toughest of resolves. Some find themselves unable to cope with work pressures, financial problems or family difficulties, and find themselves pushed over the edge, forced to seek solace in alcohol and other substances. You can get the leaflet free from Winthrop Hall

Research carried out by the Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance* found that 21% of adult Londoners are harmful users of alcohol, and 1% of London’s 7.5 million population are problematic drug users. According to Alcohol Concern*, between 58-60% of 11-15 year olds drink alcohol, with the mean consumption for those who drink doubling from 5 units a week in the early 1990s to 10 units in 2004. By the age of 13, the proportion of those who drink exceeds the proportion of teenagers who do not drink.

This year’s Statistics on Drug Misuse* reports that men are more likely to take illicit drugs than women – 13.7% took drugs in the last year compared with 7.4% of women. Alarmingly, during 2005/06 181,390 people were in contact with structured drug treatment services. This is a 13% increase on figures during 2004/05, where the number was 160,453 and more than twice the number in 1998/99.

For many, the problem is not obvious. However, there may be a number of noticeable changes that are out-of-character.

Symptoms to look out for:
1. Changes in behaviour or routine – missing appointments, coming home late, going out at odd times
2. Evasiveness and vagueness
3. Mood swings – irritability, aggression, depression or euphoria
4. Taking less pride in appearance, poor skin or a weight loss problem
5. Hand tremors and regular sweats
6. Increased secretiveness or lack of openness, even lying
7. Changes in finances, running out of money or money going missing

All of these symptoms can point to a crisis. It’s not always easy for the user to admit they have a problem, and trying to help can often lead to confrontation. People sometimes think they can resolve the problem themselves without proper treatment, but if self-help with the support of friends and family has not worked, then professional help is the answer.

It’s important to remember that help is always at hand – but it’s getting the right help that counts. A copy of the ‘Beginning Recovery’ guide, offering practical advice on recognising symptoms plus information for getting treatment for substance abuse, is available by calling Winthrop Hall on + 44 (0)1580 894334.

Other support organisations include:
The National Alcohol Helpline: 0800 917 8282
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555
FRANK: The National Drug Helpline: 0800 776600

* source:
Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance – London: The Highs and the Lows 2 (January 2007)
Alcohol Concern – Young People’s Drinking, Factsheet
Statistics on Drug Misuse, England 2007 – The Information Centre

For more details on Winthrop Hall, call 01580 894334.

Han’s hangover prevention tips!


Chartered physiotherapist, acupuncturist and naturopath, Hans van de Braak, pictured right, gives his advice on how to beat the festive season hangover:

“As a physiotherapist, naturopath and acupuncturist, I am often asked by friends and family for medical advice. However, around Christmas and New Year I find people seeking my professional expertise on the best way of dealing with the after effects of a celebratory tipple or two. Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink too much, but human nature being what it is, the best advice is rarely taken, ” says Han who practices at the Integrated Medicine Practice in Leicestershire.

“And unless you are one of those strong willed souls who manage to resist the lure of the grape or the grain, you may well find yourself in need of some advice during the festive season.

What’s your poison?

When you drink too much alcohol you are, in effect, poisoning your body. Your liver is working overtime to break down the ethanol whilst the dehydrating effect of alcohol forces your body to take water from wherever it can find it – including your brain. This causes the cells, now depleted of moisture, to shrink, inducing the pain commonly known as a headache. Drinking too much also drains the body of vital vitamins and minerals especially vitamins A, B and C. This means that any basic hangover treatment should include restoring as much lost moisture as possible whilst replacing the nutrients that your body has lost. So, before you reach for the aspirin, consider some alternative remedies that may be more effective, more natural and more easily available.

Han’s Top Five Hangover Treatments

1. Probably the most well known and effective advice, but still so often ignored – drink plenty of water before, during after and taking in alcohol. It’s got a lot going for it: in plentiful supply and absolutely free if drunk straight from the tap. The more water you can drink, the more quickly it flushes out the liver and rehydrates your poor, aching body. Be sure to avoid drinks containing caffeine as these will only dehydrate you more.
2. Also avoid aspirin and ibuprofen if possible as these tend to irritate the stomach. Instead, try a more natural remedy such as aloe vera. In a concentrated form, such as Aloeride®, aloe vera is the perfect ingredient for an upset stomach as it placates the stomach lining, and settles that horrible queasy feeling. Try taking a couple before you go out, and then a couple the morning after. See for more information.
3. Fruit: another natural and easily available remedy. Bananas are good source of fructose and potassium – both of which are lost when you drink too much alcohol. They are also a natural antacid, rich in magnesium to help ease a throbbing head. Fruit juice is another effective treatment, although it can be a little acid on a delicate stomach. This works well because the fructose in the juice burns up the residual alcohol in the stomach speeding up recovery. If it is too acidic for a sensitive tum, try watering it down.
4. Sweat it out! Head to your nearest sauna or steam room if you can face it (and you’re not still over the limit). Alternatively, walk there as a blast of fresh air will certainly do you good. If that is simply too much exertion, run a hot bath and bask in the steam, sweating out all those nasty toxins.
5. Eat! Make sure that you eat properly before you go out: whilst food doesn’t actually absorb alcohol, it does increase your metabolism and speeds up the body’s processes enabling it to deal with the effects of overindulgence more quickly. The traditional fry up – even if you can face it – is best avoided. Choose foods that will release sugar slowly and provide you with a much needed shot of protein to build up those amino acids. Baked beans, scrambled eggs and porridge tick all the right boxes – porridge also works well to neutralise acid.

Whilst following these golden rules won’t necessarily prevent you having a hangover, they will certainly reduce its effects and speed up your recovery time. With any luck, within a matter of hours you’ll be up and about and in fine fettle – ready to go out and do it all over again – although I really wouldn’t recommend it!

British business guide to drink and drugs in workplace

London: In England 17 million working days are lost every year through alcohol-related sickness while 35 percent of people of working age have used an illicit drug.

Now the most comprehensive guide ever compiled to tackle the booze and drugs culture in the British workplace has been published to help ease the pressure on both employers and employees.

Issued by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in London, the ‘Guidance on alcohol and drug misuse in the workplace’ report has been written by the country’s leading experts and draws on all the most up-to-date information and advice.

In fact the guide has been considered such an important aid in dealing with the problem, that it has also been recognised by the medical research charity, the BUPA Foundation, by winning its annual Health at Work award.

One of the author’s of the report, Dr Steve Deacon, said: “Managing the misuse of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, is a real minefield for business. We found that what they needed was a clear, simple breakdown of the best, most up-to-date and relevant advice.

“This guide not only assists in prevention but also offers support to those seeking treatment and rehabilitation. It is a one-stop shop for handling all issues relating to alcohol and drug misuse.”

The vice-chairman of the BUPA Foundation, Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen said: “All the evidence shows that the misuse of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is on the increase. The price to pay is high – absenteeism, accidents at work, poor performance, errors, lost productivity and long-term ill health.

“The guidance will be a vital tool to occupational physicians as well as those people who work in human resources and safety management, in tackling these issues.”

Dr Steve Deacon and his team received their BUPA Foundation award at a ceremony at Lincoln’s Inn in London yesterday.

· The BUPA Foundation is an independent charitable organisation that funds medical research into the prevention, relief and cure of sickness and ill health. Since 1979 The BUPA Foundation has awarded grants in excess of £19 million to medical research and healthcare initiatives across a range of disciplines from surgery to occupational health. Further information on the BUPA Foundation is available at < a href="">

· The vast majority of grants go to medical research teams in NHS hospitals.

· The BUPA Foundation Awards are made annually to recognise excellence in medical research and healthcare. The six categories are – care of the elderly, clinical excellence, communication, epidemiology, medical research and health at work.

· Award winners receive a cheque for £10,000.

· This year BUPA donated £2.5 million to the BUPA Foundation.

· Dr Steve Deacon works at the Faculty of Occupational Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in London.