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Cannabis memory effects examined. 2 March 2012Last updated at 09:46 Cannabis floods the brain with a host of chemicals which lead to changes in mood and memory Scientists believe they are closer to understanding how taking cannabis disrupts short-term memory.

Cannabis memory effects examined

The Canadian team from Ottawa University narrowed the effect down to a particular type of brain cell called an astrocyte. Writing in the journal Cell, they said it might be possible to block it in medicines based on cannabis. A UK researcher said it could reveal more about natural brain chemicals. Cannabis floods the brain with a host of chemicals which mimic one of its own subtle signalling systems, leading to pronounced changes in mood and memory.

Scientists are trying to harness the power of these chemicals, called cannabinoids, in pharmaceuticals aimed at conditions such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. Young cannabis smokers run risk of lower IQ, report claims. How could cannabis alter the teenage brain? 28 August 2012Last updated at 08:28 ET By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News When a teenager smokes cannabis are they permanently damaging their brain and dulling their intellect for a lifetime?

How could cannabis alter the teenage brain?

The dangers of smoking cannabis, and the potential health benefits, have been a source of controversy for many years. The latest study on the drug suggested heavy and prolonged cannabis smoking as a teenager resulted in a permanently lower IQ. You can read Dominic Hughes's report on the findings here. But how could cannabis have this effect on the brain and why might teenagers be particularly susceptible?

Avoid alcohol three days a week, doctors warn. 23 October 2011Last updated at 10:53 ET Drinking alcohol daily leads to a higher risk of liver disease, the Royal College of Physicians says Doctors say the government's alcohol guidelines could be improved to ensure they do not sanction daily drinking. The government recommends no more than 2-3 units for women and 3-4 for men every day or most days, and 48 alcohol-free hours after heavy drinking. The Royal College of Physicians said the liver needed time to recover from more than just a small alcoholic drink.

Westerners 'programmed for fatty foods and alcohol' Drinking alcohol, even in moderation, 'a dementia risk' 18 July 2012Last updated at 03:24 ET By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online Glass sizes and alcohol percentage determines how many units a drink contains Drinking even "moderate" amounts of alcohol increases dementia risk, US research suggests.

Drinking alcohol, even in moderation, 'a dementia risk'

The findings, presented at an international conference, challenge the notion that some alcohol could be good for ageing brains. People who stick to recommended alcohol limits are still at risk, as well as bingers and heavy drinkers, according to the work. The study tracked the health over 20 years of 1,300 women in their mid-60s. The risk, ranging from mild cognitive impairment to full blown dementia, was higher among those who reported drinking more alcohol. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote Many people will drink to relax and it's important to keep an eye on the amount of alcohol we consume”

Traffic-light blood test shows hidden alcohol harm. 28 August 2012Last updated at 19:08 ET By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online Repeated exposure to alcohol can scar the liver A traffic-light colour-coded blood test can reveal hidden liver damage caused by drinking above recommended alcohol limits, say experts.

Traffic-light blood test shows hidden alcohol harm

LSD 'helps alcoholics to give up drinking' 8 March 2012Last updated at 21:44 ET Could LSD be used to treat alcoholism?

LSD 'helps alcoholics to give up drinking'

One dose of the hallucinogenic drug LSD could help alcoholics give up drinking, according to an analysis of studies performed in the 1960s. A study, presented in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, looked at data from six trials and more than 500 patients. It said there was a "significant beneficial effect" on alcohol abuse, which lasted several months after the drug was taken. An expert said this was "as good as anything we've got". LSD is a class A drug in the UK and is one of the most powerful hallucinogens ever identified. Benefit Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analysed earlier studies on the drug between 1966 and 1970. Patients were all taking part in alcohol treatment programmes, but some were given a single dose of LSD of between 210 and 800 micrograms. Continue reading the main story. Passive smoking 'doubles hearing loss risk among teens'

19 July 2011Last updated at 03:25 Tobacco smoke contains toxins Passive smoking nearly doubles a teenager's risk of hearing loss, research reveals.

Passive smoking 'doubles hearing loss risk among teens'

Investigators say the findings, from a study of over 1,500 US teens aged 12 to 19, suggest that secondhand tobacco smoke directly damages young ears. And the greater the exposure the greater the damage. Often it was enough to impair a teen's ability to understand speech, Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery reports. It is still unclear how much exposure could be harmful and when the damage might occur.

Experts already know that smoke increases the risk of middle ear infections. And they believe it may also harm the delicate blood supply to the ear causing "subtle yet serious" changes. Continue reading the main story. Fewer premature births after smoking ban in Scotland. 6 March 2012Last updated at 22:01 By Michelle Roberts Health reporter, BBC News Exposure to tobacco smoke has been linked to lower birthweights and early deliveries Since Scotland introduced a ban on smoking in public places in 2006 there has been a 10% drop in the country's premature birth rate, say researchers.

Fewer premature births after smoking ban in Scotland

They believe this is a smoke-free benefit that can be chalked up alongside others, like reductions in heart disease and childhood asthma. Tobacco smoke has been linked to poor foetal growth and placenta problems. Plos Medicine analysed smoking and birth rates for all expectant women in Scotland before and after the ban. It included data for more than 700,000 women spanning a period of about 14 years. Significant change Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and England in 2007. After the legislation was introduced in Scotland, fewer mothers-to-be smoked - 19% compared with 25% before. Continue reading the main story. Light smoking 'doubles sudden heart death risk in women' 11 December 2012Last updated at 21:53 ET By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online Women who are light smokers - including those who smoke just one cigarette a day - double their chance of sudden death, a large study suggests.

Light smoking 'doubles sudden heart death risk in women'

The research tracked the health of 101,000 US nurses over three decades. Light-to-moderate smokers were twice as likely to die of sudden heart problems than those who had never smoked. But those who quit smoking saw their risk begin to go back down within years, a journal of the American Heart Association reports. 'Smoking vaccine' blocks nicotine in mice brains. 27 June 2012Last updated at 14:00 ET By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Researchers believe vaccines may one day help people if they choose to quit.

'Smoking vaccine' blocks nicotine in mice brains

Smokers could one day be immunised against nicotine so they gain no pleasure from the habit, according to researchers in the US. They have devised a vaccine that floods the body with an antibody to assault nicotine entering the body. A study in mice, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed levels of the chemical in the brain were reduced by 85% after vaccination.

Years of research are still needed before it could be tested on people. However, lead researcher Prof Ronald Crystal is convinced there will be benefits. "As far as we can see, the best way to treat chronic nicotine addiction from smoking is to have these Pacman-like antibodies on patrol, clearing the blood as needed before nicotine can have any biological effect. " New approach Continue reading the main story.