The National Ice Taskforce final report 2015 is available and DANA gets a mention on p.89! Click on this link to read the report.
AOD in the media
Don’t miss this brief but important story being reported in scientific news this week.
Follow this link.
The following films were made in the Siberian town of Novokuznetsk, which lies on the border of Kazakhstan. It examines the Russian heroin situation, the emergence of a new “moonshine” drug known as “Krokodil” and its devastating effect on usrs.
The name “Krokodil” is due to users developing thick scaly skin which resembles that of a crocodile.
The footage is graphic.
Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization, attended the recent Summit on Non-communicable Diseases of the UN General Assembly.
In this presentation he discusses tobacco as the major modifiable risk factor in the “Big Four” NCDs and outlines the development, implementation and passage into international law of the “WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” . You can view his 30 minutes presentation by following this link.
On 27.9.11 the ABC’s Lateline program televised a film made in Russia featuring “a home-grown drug called krokodil (that) is cheaper and more addictive than heroin and taking a terrible toll among many of the country’s estimated two million addicts.”
It runs for about 6 minutes and makes for compelling viewing. Follow this link to watch the program.
September 26, 2011 — Risk for depression may decrease as coffee consumption increases, new research suggests.
In a 10-year cohort study of more than 50,000 older women, investigators found that compared with those who drank 1 cup or less of caffeinated coffee per week, those who drank 2 to 3 cups per day had a 15% decreased risk for depression, and those who drank 4 cups or more had a 20% decreased risk.
“This is one of the first major studies to look to this relationship,” lead author Michel Lucas, PhD, RD, epidemiologist/nutritionist at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, told Medscape Medical News.
“People have often worried that drinking caffeinated coffee might have a bad effect on their health, but there is more and more literature, including this study, showing that caffeine may not have the detrimental effect previously thought,” said Dr. Lucas.
The investigators note that because this was an observational study, it did not prove causality and “only suggests the possibility” of a protective effect.
“Further investigations are needed to confirm [the findings] and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption can contribute to depression prevention,” they write.
Still, Dr. Lucas said that it might be okay for clinicians to recommend increasing a patient’s coffee intake.
“If depressed patients are refraining themselves to 1 coffee per day because they think that’s all they should have, why not try suggesting they drink more, as long as it doesn’t go over 4 cups a day? We still need a large randomized controlled trial to look at this effect, but as long as it’s not over a certain amount, upping the intake shouldn’t hurt, and may be helpful.”
The study is published in the September 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
World’s Most Used Stimulant
“Caffeine is the world’s most widely used central nervous system stimulant, with approximately 80% consumed in the form of coffee, ” write the researchers.
They note that although few prospective studies have looked at the link between coffee consumption and depression, a few cohort studies have found a “strong inverse association” between coffee consumption and suicide.
However, a study from Finland ( Eur J Epidemiol. 2000;16:789-791) found that although the risk for suicide decreased progressively for those consuming up to 7 cups of coffee per day, the risk started increasing when consumption went over 8 cups a day.
“It was surprising to us that more studies on caffeine and depression haven’t been done. People who drink coffee know that it may give more energy, and we know that caffeine has an impact on the brain and on serotonin, which has been associated with depression. We wanted to explore these associations by comparing women who drink more coffee to those who drink less,” said Dr. Lucas.
The US Nurses’ Health Study began in 1976 with 121,700 women between the ages of 30 and 55 years at enrollment. Updated information on lifestyle and medical history are provided every 2 years through mailed questionnaires.
For this analysis, the investigators examined data on a cohort of 50,739 of the study’s participants who did not have any depressive symptoms in 1996 (baseline for this analysis) and were followed-up through June 2006.
In addition to evaluating both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption, the women supplied information on their use of tea, caffeinated and decaffeinated sodas, and chocolate.
Incident or clinical depression “was defined as self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and antidepressant use,” report the researchers.
Significant Inverse Effect
Results showed that 2607 incident cases of depression were found during the 10 years of follow-up.
An overall “inverse, age-adjusted, dose-response relationship was observed between caffeinated coffee and depression risk (P for trend = .03),” write the investigators.
“Further adjustment for alcohol intake did not materially affect the results,” they add.
The women who consumed 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 0.85 relative risk (RR) for depression (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75 – 0.95), and those who drank 4 or more cups a day had an RR of 0.80 (95% CI, 0.64 – 0.99; P < .001 for both) compared with those who drank or 1 or fewer cups per week.
In addition, the participants in the highest of the 5 caffeine consumption categories (550 mg/day or more) had an RR of 0.80 (95% CI, 0.68 – 0.95; P = .02) compared with the women in the lowest category (100 mg/day or less).
Because only 0.52% of the women drank 6 or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day, the effects of very high consumption were not able to be addressed in this study.
Decaffeinated coffee, caffeinated tea, sugared soft drinks, and chocolate were not significantly associated with depression risk.
Dr. Lucas noted that these factors were examined in the women who used them and not coffee as their main source of caffeine consumption, and because their numbers were relatively small, it may have affected the results.
Overall, this large prospective cohort study of older women (mean age, 63 years at baseline) showed that “risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee,” write the investigators.
“This study makes an important contribution because it is the first large-scale study to look at this issue in women, and they focused on mental health aspects, as opposed to previous work which has focused on other health conditions,” Seth Berkowitz, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of General and Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Medscape Medical News.
Dr. Berkowitz, who is also on the editorial board for the Archives of Internal Medicine, writes in an accompanying editor’s note that past research has found no significant effects of caffeine on cardiovascular disease, modest decreases in markers of inflammation, and no or modest protective effects in certain malignant neoplasms.
“Taken together, these results reassure coffee drinkers that there seem to exist no glaringly deleterious health consequences to coffee consumption,” he writes.
Dr. Berkowitz told Medscape Medical News that people often say that caffeine gives them more energy or helps them to concentrate more. However, “it is important to quantify in a scientific way” what the effects are on mental activities.
“As clinicians we want to make sure that people aren’t doing things that will have them come to harm. And we’re looking for things that we may be able to add that can be of benefit. I think in this case, this study adds to the body of evidence that there isn’t much harm in coffee consumption. But I don’t think we’re at the point where we can say, ‘drink coffee so you won’t get depressed,’ because that’s not how the study was designed,” he said.
“Still, if your patients have questions or are wondering if drinking coffee is bad for them, I think you can provide some assurance that, at least up to the amounts examined here, it doesn’t seem to be causing a lot of problems. If they are feeling like it helps them, they should enjoy it in good health.”
The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. In addition, Dr. Lucas received a fellowship from the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec. The study authors and Dr. Berkowitz have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Arch Intern Med. 2011;171:1571-1578. Abstract
From the Website of the Alcohol Policy Coalition- media release
Coinciding with today’s United Nations (UN) meeting on non-communicable diseases, the Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) has released a paper challenging the commonly-held belief that red wine is beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease.
“After reviewing all the scientific evidence it appears any positive effects of alcohol in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease have been hugely overestimated. In particular, red wine has no special, protective qualities when it relates to cardiovascular disease,” said Kathy Bell, CEO Heart Foundation (Victoria). “The Heart Foundation does not recommend red wine or other types of alcoholic drinks to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease. To reduce your lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm, you should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day.”
More than half of all alcohol-related deaths globally are from diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer or liver cirrhosis. For only the second time in its history, the UN is today convening a high-level meeting to address the problem of non-communicable diseases, including those caused by alcohol consumption (the only other high level meeting to tackle a health issue was in 2001, when the focus was AIDS and HIV). On a global scale, 545,000 people died of alcohol-related cardiovascular disease in 2004*. In Australia, five per cent of all cancers are caused by alcohol, including one in five breast cancers. In Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows a sharp increase in wine consumption. “It’s no surprise that wine consumption has gone up – price influences consumption and wine is taxed by value not alcohol content. So when Australians can buy cask wine for less than soft drink, it’s little surprise we have a $15billion drinking problem on our hands,” said Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria. “But there is something the Government can do to help fix the problem – with an effective alcohol tax, Australia can lead the world in reducing alcohol related diseases, including heart disease and cancer.”
The Australian Government is reviewing Australia’s taxation next month and this will be the perfect opportunity to develop a system to tax drinks based on alcohol content with a premium price for more harmful products. “At the moment, alcohol taxation in Australia is inconsistent and confusing. We know that by taxing alcohol by volume we can reduce drinking to safer levels, which will have a marked effect on rates of heart disease and cancer.”
The UN Summit will be held in New York on 19-20 September 2011.
The APC’s paper, titled Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Alcohol Consumption will be available for download from www.alcoholpolicycoalition.org.au
The Alcohol Policy Coalition (the Coalition) is a collaboration of health agencies – Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, Heart Foundation (Victoria), Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and VicHealth – with shared concern relating to the misuse of alcohol and its health/social impacts on the community. Alcohol remains one of the major causes of preventable death and illness in Australia. As such, the Coalition advocates for evidence based policy to prevent and reduce the harms caused by alcohol to Australians.
*Jürgen Rehm, Colin Mathers, Svetlana Popova, Montarat Thavorncharoensap, Yot Teerawattananon, Jayadeep Patra, Global burden of
disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders, The Lancet, Vol 373 June 27, 2009
Kate K is a New Zealand registered nurse who has advised DANA about a new book that she has written, “Matters To A Head: Cannabis, mental illness & recovery”. It is based on her personal and professional experience of mental illness and addiction. Kate believes that the book has relevance for health workers. It will also be featured in this month’s issue of “Kai Tiaki”. For further information about Kate’s book visit her website www.matterstoahead.co.nz
(Although looking forward to doing so, at this time DANA has not had an opportunity to review the entire book and therefore is not able to comment on the content of the work)
The NZ Drug Foundation tweeted a link to the latest episode of “Hindsight” which screened in NZ earlier this week. It looks at drugs in New Zealand through an historical lens. It contains great archival footage from the 60s and 70s.
You can watch it by following this link. If you are watching from outside NZ don’t be out off by the messages that appear between segments advising that the documentary cannot be viewed out side N; it can, it just takes a few moments for the image to appear.
For those of you with an historical bent you might also like to read “From Mr Sin to Mr Big” by Desmond Manderson ISBN 0 19 553531 6. First published in 1993 the book is quite old but the information about the history of Australian drug laws up until that point in time is timeless.
People who abused methamphetamine or other amphetaminelike stimulants were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who did not, in a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
The researchers examined almost 300,000 hospital records from California covering 16 years. Patients admitted to hospital for methamphetamine or amphetamine-use disorders had a 76 per cent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to those with no diagnosis.
Globally, methamphetamine and similar stimulants are the second most commonly used class of illicit drugs. “This study provides evidence of this association for the first time, even though it has been suspected for 30 years,” said lead researcher Dr. Russell Callaghan, a scientist with CAMH. Parkinson’s disease is caused by a deficiency in
the brain’s ability to produce a chemical called dopamine. Because animal studies have shown that methamphetamine damages dopamine-producing areas in the brain, scientists have worried that the same might happen in humans.
It has been a challenge to establish this link, because Parkinson’s disease develops in middle and old age, and it is necessary to track a large number of people with methamphetamine addiction over a long time span.
The CAMH team took an innovative approach by examining hospital records from California – a state in which methamphetamine use is prevalent – from 1990 up to 2005. In total, 40,472 people, at least 30 years of age, had been hospitalized due to a methamphetamine- or amphetamine-use disorder during this period. These patients were compared to two groups: 207,831 people admitted for appendicitis with no diagnosis of any type of addiction, and 35,335 diagnosed with cocaine use disorders. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease was identified from hospital records or death certificates. Only the methamphetamine group had an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
While the appendicitis group served as a comparison to the general population, the cocaine group was selected for two reasons. Because cocaine is another type of stimulant that affects dopamine, this group could be used to determine whether the risk was specific to methamphetamine stimulants. Cocaine users also served as a control
group to account for the health effects or lifestyle factors associated with dependence on an illicit drug. “It is important for the public to know that our findings do not apply to patients who take amphetamines for medical purposes, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), since these patients use much lower doses of amphetamines than those taken by patients in our study,” said Dr. Stephen Kish, a CAMH scientist and co-author.
To put the study findings into numbers, if 10,000 people with methamphetamine dependence were followed over 10 years, 21 would develop Parkinson’s, compared with 12 people out of 10,000 from the general population. “It is also possible that our findings may underestimate the risk because in California, methamphetamine users may have had less access to health-care insurance and consequently to medical care,” said Dr. allaghan.
The current project is significant because it is one of the few studies examining the long-term association between methamphetamine use and the development of a major brain disorder. “Given that methamphetamine and other amphetamine stimulants are the second most widely used illicit drugs in the world, the current study will help us anticipate the full long-term medical consequences of such problematic drug use,” said
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives
of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.