Opinion – Substance misuse in older people | The BMJ – John Gelmini

Development of a rational scale to assess the ...

Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse, The Lancet, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf is correct and the BMJ are wrong about their facts, as evidenced by ignoring the 70,000 people that GP’s allegedly kill each year, through mistakes of diagnosis and their inability to clear malingering and hypochondriac out of their surgeries.

Older people certainly drink more alcohol in the form of wine and beer but generally they are not consumers of recreational or hard drugs.

UK adults now consume double the global average for alcohol bested only by Lithuanians who drank the most.

The exception is the former hippies and “flower children” of the 1960s, who took LSD on sugar lumps at pop concerts and who smoked pot and never stopped, thus leaving the drugs in their brains over a period of 50 to 60 years.

These recreational drugs are the province of the young and the young unemployed and, of course, City types who snort cocaine to be fashionable and to enhance their performance at work.

The danger older adults face is over prescription by family doctors of pain killers, anti depressants (PROZAC and SEROXAT) and medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes and erectile dysfunction.

The drug problem as a whole needs to be tackled by educating people and creating circumstances whereby demand is reduced dramatically plus interdicting the demand and increasing deterrence among drug dealers.

John Gelmini

Opinion – Moderate alcohol consumption as risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline: longitudinal cohort study | The BMJ

English: Total recorded alcohol per capita con...

English: Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption (15+), in litres of pure alcohol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read highly cited new research from the BMJ that moderate alcohol consumption is risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline.  Objectives  included to investigate whether moderate alcohol consumption has a favourable or adverse association or no association with brain structure and function. The research design was an observational cohort study with weekly alcohol intake and cognitive performance measured repeatedly over 30 years (1985-2015). The conclusions  were that alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy. Critically, these results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the UK and question the current limits recommended in the US.

Source: Moderate alcohol consumption as risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline: longitudinal cohort study | The BMJ

This story has been picked up by the world’s media, all presenting it with their own spin. This blog prefers to cite the original research from the peer reviewed scientific paper. Don’t try to read and comprehend every word of the study. Speed read it and focus on the parts that are most significant parts. As a trained researcher, with a doctorate, I fully endorse the integrity of this study. Most importantly, this is a longitudinal study, i.e. looking at results over an extended time period – this is very powerful.

Sadly, regular drinkers will probably laugh at the latest research and carry on as before.

However, I believe there are wider social and economic implications. Based upon the overwhelming evidence in this study, social drinkers are a clear burden on society.

This leads me to an open question:

Based upon latest research, linking  moderate alcohol consumption to adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline, should government policy introduce:

  1. Penal rates of tax on alcohol?

  2. Modify public healthcare policy to include exclusions and charges for patients who consume alcohol?

Thoughts?