July 2022

Wow! Who Knew? No Amount of Alcohol is Healthy if You’re Younger Than 40: Global Study 

 No amount of alcohol is healthy if you are younger than 40, mostly due to alcohol-related deaths by auto accidents, injury and homicide, according to a new global study. If you are 40 or older without underlying health conditions, however, the new research found small amounts of alcohol might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.

“Those diseases just happen to be major causes of death in a good chunk of the world,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

“So when you look at the cumulative health impact, particularly among older adults, it shows that a small amount is actually better for you than no drinking. For all other causes, it’s harmful at all levels of consumption.”

Indeed, the study found no protective effect for diseases such as tuberculosis, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, liver disease, epilepsy, pancreatitis and many cancers.

“Alcohol guidelines, both global ones and national ones, have typically emphasized the difference between consumption level for men compared to women,” Gakidou said. “What our work suggests is that global guidelines, national guidelines and local guidelines would be more effective if they emphasize age as opposed to sex.”

The findings underscore “the importance of alcohol recommendations that are tailored to specific regions and populations,” Amanda Berger, vice president of science and health for the trade group Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, told CNN in an email.

“Importantly, no one should drink alcohol to obtain potential health benefits, and some individuals should not drink at all.”


Younger than 40 found at highest risk

The report, released Thursday in the journal Lancet, is the first to report alcohol risk by global geographical region, age, sex and year, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which prepared the study.

The analysis looked at 30 years of data on people ages 15 to 95 from 204 countries and territories gathered by the institute’s Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study, which tracks premature death and disability from over 300 diseases.

The analysis estimated that 1.34 billion people around the world consumed harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020. More than 59% of the people who drank unsafe amounts of alcohol were between 15 and 39. Over two-thirds were men.

In every geographic region, the study found drinking alcohol does not provide any health benefits to people under age 40 but does raise the risk of injury, such as motor vehicle accidents, suicides and homicides.

The study defined a standard drink as 10 grams of pure alcohol, which might be a small 3.4-fluid ounce (100 milliliters) glass of red wine, a 12-fluid ounce (355 milliliters) standard can or bottle of beer (3.5% alcohol) or a 1-fluid ounce shot of spirits (30 milliliters) that is 40% alcohol by volume.


Bar Drinking (Konstantin Postumitenko-Adobe Stock)

Conclusions criticized

While praising the analysis as well-conducted, some experts not involved with the research expressed concern about the study’s conclusions.

Statistics show there are “over 14 times as many alcohol-attributable deaths in the UK among 70-74 year-olds than 20-24 year olds,” said Colin Angus, a senior research fellow at the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the UK’s University of Sheffield, in a statement. The data “contradicts the assertion in this new study that we should focus on the drinking of younger age groups,” Angus said.

“The elephant in the room with this study is the interpretation of risk based on outcomes for cardiovascular disease — particularly in older people,” said Dr. Tony Rao, visiting clinical research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.

“We know that any purported health benefits from alcohol on the heart and circulation are balanced out by the increased risk from other conditions such as cancer, liver disease and mental disorders such as depression and dementia,” Rao said in a statement.

A study published in March found just one pint of beer or glass of wine a day can shrink the overall volume of the brain, with the damage increasing as the number of daily drinks rises. On average, people at age 50 who drank a pint of beer or 6-ounce glass of wine a day in the last month had brains that appeared two years older than those who only drank half of a beer.

Research in the US has shown drinking among adults rose during pandemic, particularly among women, with “a 41% increase in heavy drinking days,” said Dr. Sarah Wakeman, medical director of the Substance Use Disorders Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, in an earlier CNN interview.

A study published in June found many moderate drinkers over age 30 binge on the weekend — defined as five or more drinks in a row or within a short period of time. Drinking an average of more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men — or five or more drinks on the same occasion — was linked to alcohol problems nine years later.

Women are especially sensitive to the effects of alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, or NIAA. Alcohol-related problems appear sooner and at lower drinking levels than in men, it said.

Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related brain damage and heart disease than men, and studies show women who have one drink a day increase their risk of breast cancer by 5% to 9% compared with those who abstain.

“The recommendation that those under 40 should not drink at all is totally unrealistic,” Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, an industry-funded group that regulates alcohol marketing in the UK, said in an email.

Gakidou, the study’s senior author, admitted that “it’s not realistic to think young adults will stop drinking. Still, we think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.”

For those over age 65, any increase in drinking is worrisome because many older adults “use medications that can interact with alcohol, have health conditions that can be exacerbated by alcohol, and may be more susceptible to alcohol-related falls and other accidental injuries,” the NIAA said.

“There is a high threshold for being able to say that alcohol is an effective prevention therapy, and the studies so far do not reach that threshold. If they did, then you can be sure that the drinks industry would be applying to the FDA for a license,” said Dr. Nick Sheron, a professor in the hepatology department at the UK’s University of Southampton.

‘A more detailed and nuanced analysis’

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation last published a report on alcohol four years ago when it analyzed 2016 Global Burden of Disease data on people 15 to 49, finding no amount of liquor, wine or beer was safe for overall health.

“What we have done in this new study is a more detailed and nuanced analysis of 21 different world regions,” Gakidou said. “What we’ve been able to do now is break it down: Who is alcohol harmful for? Who is alcohol beneficial to? That’s why the message is coming across as different, but it is actually consistent with what we said before.

“If you ask me, ‘Will the message be different in 10 years?’ Maybe. It is likely new evidence will come out,” she said. “That may change our thinking.”

Myths About Abortion and Women’s Mental Health Are Widespread 

 It’s an unfounded message experts say is repeated again and again: Having an abortion may damage a woman’s mental health, perhaps for years.

“There’s so much misinformation, so many myths about abortion. Abortion will lead to substance abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts; abortion is bad for your health; every woman is going to regret it,” said social psychologist Brenda Major, a distinguished professor emeritus in the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In reality, decades of research have shown that “the vast majority of women feel they made the right choice, and they don’t experience regret,” said Major, who led a 2008 American Psychological Association task force exploring the science on abortion and mental health.

Women who had an abortion in the first trimester were no more likely to have mental health problems than women who continued with an unplanned pregnancy, the APA review concluded.

A large, long-term study, called The Turnaway Study, followed the mental health of nearly 1,000 women in 21 states who wanted and received an abortion and women who wanted but were denied an abortion between 2008 and 2010.

The women were interviewed every six months over the next five years. At the end of that time, 99% of the women who had an abortion believed they had made the right decision — in fact relief was the prominent emotion, one analysis noted.

Women who received an abortion had similar or lower levels of depression and anxiety than women denied an abortion and were no more likely to experience post-traumatic stress than women who carried their baby to term, according to study results.


The research also found no difference in mental health outcomes between a first-trimester abortion and having an abortion later in the pregnancy.

Sources of misinformation

Abortion misinformation might come from friends or family, an article or study read online, or during a mandated pre-abortion counseling session some states put into place during the Roe v. Wade era, experts told CNN.

Of the 33 states that have required patients receive counseling before an abortion, eight routinely included the potential for negative psychological responses as part of the conversation, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive rights worldwide.

“There were states in which women were told that because they’re having an abortion, they’re at increased risk for depression, suicidal ideation, post traumatic stress disorder and more,” said Julia Steinberg, an associate professor of family science at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.


“Abortion does not cause depression, it does not cause suicide (or) suicidal ideation. It does not cause substance use. It does not cause anxiety disorders,” said Steinberg, who has studied the mental health impact of abortion for years.

In fact, the best predictor of not faring well after an abortion was a “prior history of mental health issues,” Major said. “The best predictor of substance use after an abortion was if you were already a substance abuser, and the best predictor of depression after abortion was if you’ve been depressed before you had one.”

Abortion misinformation also comes from published studies in academic journals that conclude abortion does cause mental health problems, experts say.

“The studies make it look like there is a debate, but what’s really going on is those studies are very poorly conducted,” Steinberg said. “They are not methodologically rigorous, and they don’t adhere to scientific principles.”

The 2008 APA task force published a scathing rebuke of the research quality of many studies which found mental health concerns after abortion. Studies often failed to control for factors such as rape, sexual or partner violence, or a woman’s history of prior mental disorders or substance abuse.

“We reviewed every legitimate study that had ever been done on this topic,” Major said. “The methodological flaws in so many of the studies that are being cited as showing harm to women’s mental health as a result of having an abortion were just egregious.”

A later 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine review analyzed studies on abortion’s impact on future fertility and pregnancy outcomes, risk of breast cancer, mental health disorders, and premature death.

“Much of the published literature on these topics fails to meet scientific standards for rigorous, unbiased research,” the report stated, concluding that “having an abortion does not increase a woman’s risk of secondary infertility, pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders, abnormal placentation (after a D&E abortion), preterm birth, breast cancer, or mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, and PTSD).”

Yet this belief that abortion harms women’s mental and physical health has been used to justify “waiting period laws, two-trip requirements (in which women have to come back twice) and telling women inaccurate information around medication abortion,” Steinberg said.

Being denied an abortion

The Turnaway Study also looked at the short- and long-term impact of being denied an abortion. Results showed women who were turned away were more likely to experience significant anxiety and stress.

“In my research what we found is that the challenges of getting an abortion — finding a place, traveling, having to disclose your abortion to someone you would have preferred not to — increased symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress,” said social psychologist Antonia Briggs, one of the Turnaway researchers from the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) project at the University of California, San Francisco.

“And then at the time of being denied an abortion, those symptoms go even higher. And then over time, they do dissipate,” said Briggs, an associate professor at UCSF.

Women denied an abortion who carried their babies to term were “much more likely to experience physical health issues at the time of childbirth, as childbirth is much more risky than having an abortion,” Briggs said. Two of the women in the study died during childbirth.

2012 study found the risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than the risk from abortion.

After five years, the study found women denied an abortion were more likely to “live in poverty and much more likely to suffer economic hardship, including more bankruptcies, debt and challenges meeting basic living needs,” Briggs said.

Women who were turned away were also more likely to be tethered to a violent and abusive partner, and to have chronic health conditions, Briggs said. “They also lowered their aspirations (for the future), and they were less likely to achieve them,” she added.

If a woman denied an abortion had existing children under 5, those children were less likely to meet their developmental milestones, more likely to live in poverty, and less likely to have bonded with their mother, the study found.

Will these outcomes affect more women now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned?

“I’m completely overwhelmed with worry,” Briggs said. “I worry about people being able to get wanted care. Some will have to overcome huge amounts of obstacles in order to access care.

“Others will hopefully safely self-manage their abortions by accessing medication abortion pills online, which we know is quite safe,” Briggs said. Before the Supreme Court reversal, over half of all abortions in the US were done via a two-drug prescription medication method, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“Then there are some women whom I worry will use other less safe methods to self-manage the pregnancies or carry to term in a situation that they they deem is not ideal for them,” Briggs said.

Study Shows Harmful Chemical in Black Women’s Hair Products Increases Breast Cancer Risk

A recent study indicates that Black women using hair and beauty products are at a high risk of developing breast cancer. These hair and beauty products explicitly marketed to Black women are said to contain a dangerous class of toxic chemicals that has been linked to an increase in breast cancer risk. Additionally, the chemicals fuel the spread of cancer cells more in Black women than in white women.

The study will be presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta on Monday. The study analyzed the effects of parabens on Black women’s breast cancer cells, according to Business Insider. The same analysis was done on white women’s breast cancer cells. The experiment concluded that parabens increase the growth of breast cancer cells in Black women. Although it also increases the growth of cancer cells in White women, the rate is slower compared to Black women.

What are parabens? These are a group of chemicals that are used in beauty products to keep mold and bacteria from growing on them, so as to prolong their shelf lives. But parabens are harmful in humans because the chemicals can mimic the hormone estrogen, hence triggering dangerous cell growth.

“Black women are more likely to buy and use hair products with these types of chemicals, but we do not have a lot of data about how parabens may increase breast cancer risk in Black women,” Lindsey S. Treviño, the study’s lead researcher, said in a press release.

The study is a product of the Bench to Community Initiative, which comprises community activists, scientists, breast cancer survivors, and hair stylists who come together to study the relationship between breast cancer and chemicals in Black hair care products.

Boston University’s Black Women’s Health Study has been tracking 59,000 women who enrolled in the study in 1995. The study has not reported any connection between moderate use of hair relaxers and an increased risk of breast cancer. However, the study found that there is evidence that a more aggressive form of cancer is linked to “heavy use of lye-containing hair relaxers.”

“These results provide new data that parabens also cause harmful effects in breast cancer cells from Black women,” Treviño added in the press release.

The global Black hair care industry was worth over $2.5 billion in 2020, according to Afro Lovely. The report also found that Black consumers spent $54.4 million on ethnic hair and beauty products in 2018. That made up 85.7$ of total spending in the category.


Six Benefits of Masturbation While in a Relationship

A study conducted by Tenga found that most people in relationships masturbate an average of 10 times per month. But they do it a lot less than single people who allegedly masturbate 16 times per month.

“It is important that couples discuss it as often one or both people in the relationship define masturbation as cheating,” Sexologist and author Dr. Nikki Goldstein told Bustle in 2016.

Dr. Goldstein added: “Masturbation in a relationship can be very healthy but to get to that point there needs to be a certain amount of discussion first.”

In a 2019 TENGA Global Self-Pleasure Report, 38% of men and 34% of women said they have lied about their masturbatory habits. Meanwhile, masturbation can be one of the best forms of self-care

As reported by MadameNoire, below are six benefits of masturbation in a relationship. 

You Sleep Better

The good news is research from the Prime Men’s Medical Center reports that masturbation helps a person fall asleep quicker. And sleeping better makes you less grumpy (and less prone to arguing).

You’re Happier

Orgasms also release oxytocin, which is the bonding hormone, and women actually release oxytocin long after orgasm. So just because you climax on your own doesn’t mean that self-pleasure can’t also help you feel more bonded to a partner.

You Can Guide Your Partner

Masturbating regularly helps you get to know your body better. You can figure out what sort of pressure, speed and other sensations work for you.  

Help Yourself When A Partner Can’t

It’s common in a relationship that one partner wants to have sex more frequently than the other. If that’s you, then masturbation gives you an outlet for that desire when your partner isn’t in the mood. That means you don’t need to resent your partner for keeping you from orgasming.

Naughty Videos Can Inspire You

One of the benefits of masturbation is finding new ideas for your sex life. If you pair masturbation with some adult videos, then you can get new ideas and inspiration from said videos. 

Reduce Orgasm Resentment

Partner sex doesn’t always result in orgasm for women (and we know that’s an understatement). But, sex promotes intimacy and is good for a relationship, so when that Big O doesn’t come with it, you can just step into the other room and handle things yourself.

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