6 Myths You May Believe About Drinking — Busted

Group of friendssitting in the pub and toasting with beer. Focus on beer glasses.

When it comes to alcohol, the line between myth and fact can be blurry. Chemical dependency specialist Joseph Janesz, PhD, helps clear up the confusion below.

Myth 1: Drinking perks you up at parties

“Throughout the holiday season, many of us struggle with fatigue and excess stress,” he says.  “We may look to alcohol at a holiday party to dissipate that fatigue, enhance our energy level and relieve stress.”

But alcohol is a brain depressant. It first acts by shutting off executive functions like judgment, mood control and natural inhibitions. Some people experience this as elation and excitement. But others experience the opposite: sleepiness, lethargy and even a depressed feeling.

The bottom line: Alcohol interferes with normal brain activity, no matter how you feel when you drink.

Myth 2: A beer before bed helps you sleep

Drinking a beer before bed may promote your getting to sleep more quickly,” says Dr. Janesz. “However, it interrupts your deep sleep, and you’ll wake later on feeling not rested and ‘hung over.’”

Normally, your body cycles through light and deep phases of sleep. Alcohol inhibits refreshing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and later on causes “REM rebound,” with nightmares and trouble sleeping.

Repeated alcohol use seriously disturbs sleep and makes it difficult to re-establish a normal sleep pattern. Often, this leads to more drinking or to sedative abuse in the quest for sleep.

Myth 3: An Irish coffee will keep you warm on the slopes

Your body normally stores warm blood in its core to preserve important organ functions. Alcohol artificially dilates blood vessels in your extremities, allowing warm blood to escape from your core into your peripheral circulation, where it cools.

Alcohol intake may make your skin feel warm. Yet it deceptively lowers the core temperature of your body,” says Dr. Janesz.

The result: your body can no longer keep vital organs warm as your overall temperature drops.

Myth 4: A beer is less potent than a cocktail

Whether you’re drinking an ale or a Moscow Mule, you’re typically consuming the same amount of alcohol.

“Any alcohol beverage you consume will have a similar effect on your body and on your ability to function,” says Dr. Janesz.

Myth 5: Coffee can sober you up when you’ve had a few too many

Coffee has no real effect on your blood alcohol level, which is the major factor in determining your level of intoxication.

“Drinking coffee or other caffeine products after having one too many drinks can trick your brain into making you feel energized and more awake or alert,” says Dr. Janesz.

“The alertness can create the perception that you aren’t as drunk or intoxicated as you actually are, and you may decide to have another drink or to drive home.”

Myth 6: Men and women react to alcohol in the same way

Drinking tends to produce higher blood alcohol concentrations in women because they are generally smaller than men. This leads to a greater degree of intoxication.

“Alcohol disperses in water, and women have less water in their bodies than men,” explains Dr. Janesz. “So if a woman and man of the same weight consume the same amount of alcohol, her blood alcohol concentration will usually rise more rapidly than his.”

But while women may reach the “drunk driving” limit — 0.08 percent blood alcohol — sooner, alcohol can impair driving at much lower blood alcohol levels. So “don’t drink and drive” remains sound advice for everyone.

 

 

6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health

Some of the ways alcohol affects our health are well known, but others may surprise you. Here are six less-known effects that alcohol has on your body, according to gastroenterologist K. V. Narayanan Menon, MD:

  1. Drinking gives your body work to do that keeps it from other processes. Once you take a drink, your body makes metabolizing it a priority — above processing anything else. Unlike proteins, carbohydrates and fats, your body doesn’t have a way to store alcohol, so it has to move to the front of the metabolizing line. This is why it affects your liver, as it’s your liver’s job to detoxify and remove alcohol from your blood.
  2. Abusing alcohol causes bacteria to grow in your gut, which can eventually migrate through the intestinal wall and into the liver, leading to liver damage.
  3. Too much is bad for your heart. It can cause the heart to become weak (cardiomyopathy) and have an irregular beat pattern (arrhythmias). It also puts people at higher risk for developing high blood pressure.
  4. People can develop pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, from alcohol abuse.
  5. Drinking too much puts you at risk for some cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast.
  6. It can affect your immune system. If you drink every day, or almost every day, you might notice that you catch colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don’t drink. This is because alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections.

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/07/6-surprising-ways-alcohol-affects-health-not-just-liver

Why having a female doctor might save your life

 
Casey Ross

A recent study could add to the argument over equal pay in the ranks of medicine: Older patients treated by female doctors tend to do better than those treated by males.

Public health researchers at Harvard found that elderly patients were less likely to die or be re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days if treated by female doctors rather than male. The study doesn’t explain why this happens, but prior studies have found that female doctors tend to spend more time with patients, communicate better, and follow clinical guidelines more often than their male colleagues.

The findings not only launch a grenade at the gender pay gap in medicine, they also suggest the methods of female physicians — if replicated broadly — could significantly improve the quality of medical care in the United States.

“We need to understand why these differences exist … and figure out how to translate it to the broader population of physicians,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the paper.

The study, which examined data from more than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries, said that if male doctors achieved the same outcomes as female doctors, annual deaths of Medicare patients alone would drop by 32,000. That’s comparable to the number of annual deaths from car accidents in the U.S.

Meanwhile, female physicians are still paid considerably less than males, according to recent research. A paper published this year in JAMA Internal Medicine found that male academic physicians get an average of 8 percent more than females, regardless of specialty, years of experience or productivity, which translates to an average salary bump of about $20,000, although the extent of the disparity varies widely.

Jha said he hopes the study will spur constructive conversation. The wage gap “is particularly unconscionable given the performance of women in terms of providing high quality care,” he said.

Harvard’s study found that, when treated by female internists, Medicare patients had a 4 percent lower relative risk of dying prematurely and 5 percent lower risk of being readmitted to a hospital within 30 days. Researchers examined outcome data between 2011 and 2014 on the eight most common conditions in seniors treated by general internists, including sepsis, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and acute renal failure.

Patients of female physicians had lower rates of mortality and readmission in all of the conditions examined, although the difference was not always statistically significant. Sepsis is a leading killer of elderly patients and costs more than $20 billion a year to treat. It killed about 182,000 people in the United States in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which launched a national campaign to improve treatment of the condition.

The study reported that mortality rates for sepsis were more than 2 percent lower among patients treated by female physicians, and about 1 percent lower for those treated for heart arrhythmia and pneumonia. Female doctors recorded about 1 percent lower re-admissions for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. That might not seem like a big difference, but the costs add up quickly when applied to tens of thousands of patients with these conditions.

Jha said the researchers sought to control for a variety of factors, including risk adjusting for the demographics of patients and accounting for differences in the size and types of hospitals where the physicians worked. They also tested the findings by restricting the analysis to hospitalists, to whom patients are randomly assigned, to make sure patient selection of doctors was not skewing the results.

The outcomes remained consistent in that population as well.

http://theweek.com/articles/670681/why-having-female-doctor-might-save-life