Plus: Daily emails as a tool to stop smoking; teen internet addiction; and transcranial magnetic brain stimulation as a substitute for opioids in relieving chronic pain
By William WagnerMarch 1, 2021
Which workforces tend to have the heaviest and lightest drinkers? A new study in BMC Public Health shines a light on that question. In this week’s “From the Journals,” we also explore how daily emails could help people quit smoking, the link between loneliness and teen internet addiction, and the potential of brain stimulation to ease opioid cravings.
From BMC Public Health:
Occupations with the Highest and Lowest Drinking Rates
People who work in the trades are more likely to drink heavily than those in so-called “professional” occupations (such as teaching), according to researchers at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. “One of the most consistent findings across our data was that occupations considered as ‘skilled trade’ had high ratios of heavy drinkers,” the authors write. For example, researchers determined that, in the United Kingdom, plasterers and industrial cleaners consume high levels of alcohol. Medical practitioners, physicists and clergy were among the workers linked to the lowest rates of drinking. To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers pored over data from the UK Biobank of 100,817 adults who were, on average, 55 years old. A note of caution from the authors regarding the study: “Overall, we found robust associations between occupations reported by the study participants and heavy alcohol consumption, but these are not evidence of causation.”
One of the most consistent findings across our data was that occupations considered as ‘skilled trade’ had high ratios of heavy drinkers.”—University of Liverpool study
From the JAMA Network:
Can Daily Emails Help You Stop Smoking?
Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) sought to quantify the power of health messaging—in this case, with daily emails aimed at helping people to stop smoking—and the results were encouraging. For 15 consecutive days in their randomized control, longitudinal study, they emailed 789 adults messages about the harmful effects of smoking. The emails included images and information about health issues associated with smoking, such as the toxins in tobacco. In a news release about the research, Adam Goldstein, M.D., MPH, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine, said, “Smokers’ intentions to quit smoking increased almost 10% over the short time period that our constituent communication campaign ran in our national sample. Campaigns that run longer and reach millions of smokers will almost certainly stimulate much larger numbers of smokers in the U.S. with intentions to quit.”
From Child Development:
Lonely Teens and Internet Addiction
Common sense tells us that lonely teens would be vulnerable to compulsive internet use. An article recently published in Child Development tells us the same thing, only with data behind it. In a study that involved analyzing 1,750 Finnish subjects, a research team concluded that loneliness is a component of teen internet addiction. Sixteen-year-old males, the study found, are at greatest risk.
From Drug and Alcohol Dependence:
Brain Stimulation Might Ease Need for Opioids
Scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina are working to see if transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) can be a viable for substitute for opioids to relieve chronic pain. TMS works by sending magnetic pulses to targeted areas of the brain. It currently is used to treat mood disorders, but the researchers at Medical University of South Carolina believe it can be effective in reducing both pain and opioid cravings. “It’s a whole new window of opportunity that we can explore,” Colleen Hanlon, Ph.D., a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at the university, said in a news release about the study.
Photo: Dan Schiumarini