Smoking/Alcohol

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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. The doses of cannabinoid are carefully controlled to avoid the "high" feeling. Memory matters. 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. 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.

Avoid alcohol three days a week, doctors warn

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. It advises two to three alcohol-free days a week and 0-14 weekly units for women and 0-21 for men. Westerners 'programmed for fatty foods and alcohol' 14 July 2011Last updated at 14:26 Obesity levels have risen sharply in many western countries since the 1970s Westerners could be genetically programmed to consume fatty foods and alcohol more than those from the east, researchers have claimed. Scientists at the University of Aberdeen say a genetic switch - DNA which turns genes on or off within cells - regulates appetite and thirst. The study suggests it is also linked to depression.

Dr Alasdair MacKenzie conceded it would not stop those moving to the west adapting to its lifestyle. Obesity levels have risen sharply in many Western countries since the 1970s. Dr MacKenzie, who lead the study team, told BBC Scotland they found Europeans were more inclined to consume fatty foods and alcohol - but that people from the East could end up with the same problems if adapting to a new culture. Continue reading the main story Facts on calories Scientists at the university's Kosterlitz Centre said the switch controls the galanin gene.

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. 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

The UK doctors who devised the test say anyone who regularly drinks more than three or four bottles of wine a week, for example, is at significant risk. Ultimately, GPs could offer the test to patients, especially since many people do not recognise unsafe drinking. Often damage is only noticed at a late stage as the liver starts to fail. Although the liver can heal itself to some extent, repeated onslaught will cause irreparable damage.

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. 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 “Start Quote Further research is needed to demonstrate a causal link” End QuoteDr Ralph Holme of the charity Action on Hearing Loss Avoidable But hearing tests revealed that they struggled with high and low frequency sounds. 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. 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. '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.