Researchers released the latest findings on such negative effects of alcohol during a meeting Nov. 19 of the Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group, held at Loyola University Medical Center.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2010) — Alcohol can do much more harm to the body than just damaging the liver. Drinking also can weaken the immune system, slow healing, impair bone formation, increase the risk of HIV transmission and hinder recovery from burns, trauma, bleeding and surgery.
At Loyola, about 50 faculty members, technicians, post-doctoral fellows and students are conducting alcohol research. Studies at Loyola and other centers could lead to therapies to boost the immune system or otherwise minimize the effects of alcohol, said Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD, director of Loyola's Alcohol Research Program and associate director of Loyola's Burn & Shock Trauma Institute.
"Of course, the best way to prevent the damaging effects of alcohol is to not drink in the first place," Kovacs said. "But it is very difficult to get people to do this."
Sessions at the conference included Alcohol and Infection, Alcohol and Oxidative Stress and Alcohol and Organ Inflammation. Findings were presented by researchers from centers around the country, including Loyola, Cleveland Clinic, University of Iowa, University of Colorado, University of Massachusetts, Mississippi State University, Chicago State University and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
The conference was supported by Loyola's Alcohol Research Program and Department of Surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, the Society for Leukocyte Biology and the NIAAA
ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2010) — There has been an abundance of research on the effects of alcohol on the brain, but many questions regarding how alcohol impairs the built-in control systems are still unknown. A new study released in the January 2011 issue ofAlcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, which is currently available at Early View, explores that subject in detail and found that certain brain regions involved in error processing are affected more by alcohol than others.
According to Beth Anderson, a postdoctoral fellow at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Centre at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and lead author of the paper, this research is only the first step in a much larger process."Alcohol is widely consumed in our society today. We know it alters behavior, but surprisingly it is not well studied at the brain level. Once we understand how it is altering the brain, we can better inform the public of the consequences of drinking alcohol."
The researchers gave 38 volunteers different doses of alcohol to establish a breath alcohol concentration of zero for the control group, 0.05 per cent for moderate intoxication, or 0.1 per cent for a high level of alcohol intake. Then, once the alcohol was given enough time to cause intoxication, the volunteers participated in a Go/No-Go reaction test, where either the letters "K" or "X" were displayed on a screen with specific instructions to only press a button when an "X" was displayed.
In the experiment, there was no significant data between the control and moderate intoxication, but there were some very interesting results discovered between the control and high dose testing. After receiving the highest level of alcohol, individuals were found to have an increased reaction time, more errors and an overall decrease of successful trials.
According to Anderson, the lack of data regarding the moderate doses of alcohol was likely due to the fact that the participants were able to partially compensate for the effects of the alcohol. However, following the higher dose, individuals would have had a much more difficult time achieving that. "The increased reaction time was likely an attempt to compensate for their impairment. They may have slowed down in an attempt to keep from making more errors."
However, these results still yield more questions regarding the mystery of how alcohol impairs the control centers of the brain, and only more research will be able to help solve this complicated problem.
"We know [alcohol] alters behavior, but surprisingly, it is not well studied at the brain level," Anderson said. "Once we understand how it is altering the brain, we can better inform the public of the consequences of drinking alcohol.
When have you first started drinking? What brought you into drinking? What do you feel about it now after reading this post? Do you know people who are heavy drinkers and have the symptoms of the latter?