Monday, November 26, 2012

Drinking lowers your risk of dying in hospital

This just suggests that people who are injured as a result of drinking are basically healthier than people who are injured for other reasons.  Any direct effect of alcohol itself is unlikely.  The "biomechanism of the protective phenomenon" is probably non-existent.  So the naivety behind the following statement is breathtaking:

"If the mechanism behind the protective effect were understood, 'we could then treat patients post-injury, either in the field or when they arrive at the hospital, with drugs that mimic alcohol,' he said."

Why do so many medical researchers assume that correlation is causation?  It isn't

The journal article is:  "Dose–response relationship between in-hospital mortality and alcohol following acute injury"

Scientists have discovered a somewhat dubious benefit of drinking too much - it reduces your risk of dying if you end up in hospital.

Of course consuming too much alcohol substantially increases your chances of being injured in the first place. However, once there, scientists found even mild intoxication reduces your risk of mortality.

'This study is not encouraging people to drink,' said study leader Lee Friedman from the University of Illinois.  'However, after an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect.  'The more alcohol you have in your system, the more the protective effect.'

Friedman analysed Illinois data for 190,612 patients treated at trauma centres between 1995 and 2009 who were tested for blood alcohol content, which ranged from zero to 0.5 per cent at the time they were admitted to the trauma unit. Of that group, 6,733 died in the hospital.

The study examined the relationship of alcohol dosage to in-hospital mortality following traumatic injuries such as fractures, internal injuries and open wounds. Alcohol benefited patients across the range of injuries, with burns as the only exception.

The benefit extended from the lowest blood alcohol concentration (below 0.1 per cent) through the highest levels (up to 0.5 per cent).  'At the higher levels of blood alcohol concentration, there was a reduction of almost 50 per cent in hospital mortality rates,' Friedman said.

'This protective benefit persists even after taking into account injury severity and other factors known to be strongly associated with mortality following an injury.'

Very few studies have looked at the physiological mechanisms related to alcohol and injury in humans.

Some animal studies have shown a neuro-protective effect from alcohol, but the findings of most animal and previous human studies often contradict one another because of different study criteria.

Friedman says it's important for doctors to recognize intoxicated patients but also to understand how alcohol might affect the course of treatment.  Further research into the biomechanism of the protective phenomenon is needed, he said.

If the mechanism behind the protective effect were understood, 'we could then treat patients post-injury, either in the field or when they arrive at the hospital, with drugs that mimic alcohol,' he said.


Asparagus is latest weapon in the fight against diabetes as study reveals it controls blood sugar

If you are a rat in Pakistan

Asparagus could be a powerful new culinary weapon in the fight against diabetes.  Scientists have found regular intake of the increasingly popular vegetable keeps blood sugar levels under control and boosts the body’s production of insulin, the hormone that helps it to absorb glucose.

Once known as ‘late onset’ diabetes, since it only tended to strike from middle-age onwards, doctors are now beginning to see patients in their teens and twenties with the condition.  Fatty foods and unhealthy lifestyles have long been thought raise the risks.

To see if asparagus could help, scientists at the University of Karachi in Pakistan injected rats with chemicals to induce a diabetic state, with low levels of insulin and high blood sugar content.

They then treated half with an extract from the asparagus plant and the other half with an established anti-diabetic drug, called glibenclamide.

The rats were fed the asparagus extract in small or large doses every day for 28 days.  Blood tests were then carried out to measure changes in their diabetes.

The results, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed low levels of the asparagus suppressed blood sugar levels but did not improve insulin output.

Only high doses of the extract had a significant effect on insulin production by the pancreas, the organ which releases the hormone into the bloodstream.

The findings support earlier studies highlighting the benefits of asparagus.  One published in the British Medical Journal in 2006 showed asparagus triggered an 81 per cent increase in glucose uptake by the body’s muscles and tissues.

In a report on their findings the University of Karachi researchers said: ‘This study suggests asparagus extract exerts anti-diabetic effects.’


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