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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Concerns about powdered alcohol: 08/24/2015

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

Despite bans in 12 states, the recent federally approved sale of powdered alcohol products raises concern about its impact on public health, notes a viewpoint recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

The viewpoint's two authors explain the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved several powdered alcohol products in March 2015. Yet, the viewpoint's authors explain its current availability (and portability across state lines) add a new layer of public health risks from alcohol abuse.

The viewpoint's authors explain powdered alcohol is easy to conceal. The authors write (and we quote) 'these products can easily be brought into locations where alcohol is otherwise restricted or prohibited, including parks, schools, movie theaters, and alcohol-free community and cultural events. This could create challenges for school officials and also state and local law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing underage drinking laws and alcohol-free location restrictions' (end of quote).

The authors add it is easy to spike both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with a powdered alcohol mix.

The authors also are concerned that (and we quote) 'Initially, at least, consumers will not be familiar with typical servicing sizes for powdered alcohol and adding powder to other beverages would not affect the apparent volume of the drink' (end of quote).

The viewpoint's authors explain alcohol spiking significantly raises the risks of: binge drinking; drinking to the point of intoxication; as well as alcohol poisoning especially among younger Americans.

The authors also note the similarities between the launch of powdered alcohol and the earlier availability of alcoholic energy drinks.

The authors write (and we quote) 'Alcoholic energy drinks, which premix alcohol and caffeine, also entered the market without adequate review. These beverages rapidly gained popularity with youth and young adults as an inexpensive way to binge drink while decreasing the feeling of intoxication' (end of quote).

The viewpoint's authors remind us that alcohol consumption causes more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. with approximately 30 years of life lost per death. The viewpoint's authors note they hope more states will consider bans or restrictions on powdered alcohol as a therapeutic public health strategy.

Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov's underage drinking health topic page reminds us that alcohol remains the most widely abused substance among young persons in the U.S. An array of alarming facts about underage drinking (from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) are provided in the 'specific conditions' section of MedlinePlus.gov's underage drinking health topic page. For example, alcohol abuse is involved in 95 percent of all violent crime on U.S. college campuses.

An insightful guide about the health risks from binge drinking (from the Nemours Foundation) also is available in the 'teenagers' section of MedlinePlus.gov's underage drinking health topic page. You can find descriptions of underage drinking laws among all 50 U.S. states within the 'finance and policy' section of MedlinePlus.gov's underage drinking health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's underage drinking health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about underage drinking as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's underage drinking health topic page type 'teen drinking' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'underage drinking (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has a health topic page on alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

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