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Friday, 27 July 2007

Blackpool tops drink-deaths table

Blackpool has a higher number of alcohol-related deaths per head of population than anywhere else in England and Wales, new figures show.
Thirty out of every 100,000 people died from drinking in the resort from 2001 to 2003, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Barrow had the next highest figures.

Brighton and Hove, Salford, Corby, Sandwell and Camden were also in the top 10.

The ONS said in 2003 there were 6,580 deaths from alcohol-related illnesses, such as liver disease, in England and Wales - up from 5,970 in 2001.

"We are about 10 years from being where we would like to be"
Prof John Ashton, Director of Public Health in the North West

Men accounted for almost two thirds of those who died, while there was a large variation between different regions.

In the North West, there were 15.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population, compared to 7.7 in the East.

The North East (13.1), the West Midlands (12.5) and London (12.3) also had high rates.

In Blackpool, 43.9 men died per 100,000 population, almost three times the national average.

Prof John Ashton, Director of Public Health in the North West, blamed the "binge drinking" culture of the north of England for the problem.

Deaths per 100,000 of population

Deaths due to alcohol have doubled in the past 14 years

, figures show.

The biggest rises were seen in men and women in their thirties and forties who were the first generation to start binge drinking as teenagers.

Data from the Office of National Statistics show that 8,386 people died last year from alcohol-related diseases, more than double the death toll of 4,144 in 1991.

Doctors and health campaigners have called on the Government to do more to tackle alcohol-related diseases instead of just focusing on the law and order aspects of binge drinking.

Medics have raised concerns that men and women in their twenties are now dying from liver disease brought on by drinking to excess.

Almost 30 men per 100,000 aged 35 to 54 died from alcohol-related causes last year, more than double the figure in 1991. A similar trend was seen in women, with 14 per 10,000 dying from drink last year, also double the rate 14 years ago

2,301 people were arrested for being over the legal drink-drive limit.

Last year 12% of people arrested for driving over the limit in Northern Ireland were from two eastern European countries, the BBC has learned.
Using a Freedom of Information request the BBC found that in the last year 2,301 people were arrested for being over the legal drink-drive limit.

Of those 4% were Polish and 8% Lithuanian. Overall they account for no more than about 1% of NI's population.

Nearly three quarters arrested were from NI and 8% from the Republic.

Canada - 4
Czech Republic - 10
Hungary - 6
India - 6
Iran - 2
Ireland - 173
Latvia - 21
Lithuania - 187
Poland - 81
Portugal - 38
Russian Federatiion - 6
Slovakia - 9
South Africa - 10
Ukraine - 13
Zimbabwe - 3 Figures from PSNI

The investigation, by BBC Northern Ireland's Newsline programme suggests there is a major problem with drink driving in some of Northern Ireland's immigrant communities.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

It's possible that these new drugs will be the new coffee

It's possible that these new drugs will be the new coffee

Professor Trevor Robbins, University of Cambridge

Ritalin, now prescribed to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has already been used by some students to improve their performance in exams.

Modafinil, used now to treat sleep disorders, has been shown to help people remember numbers more effectively.

It can also make people think more carefully before making decisions.

There is also a type of molecule called ampakins, which enhance the way some chemical receptors in the brain work, suggesting drugs could be developed to improve people's memory when they are tired.

The Foresight report states: "In a world that is increasingly non-stop and competitive, the individual's use of such substances may move from the fringe to the norm, with cognition enhancers used as coffee is today".

But the availability of such drugs would open up a range of social and ethical questions, including whether it should be permitted for people to use them to gain advantage over others.

How they should be monitored would also be an issue.

Brain-boost drugs 'to be common'

Healthy people, including children, might one day take drugs to boost their intelligence, scientists predict.
The think-tank Foresight, outlined the scenario in an independent report looking at potential developments over the next 20 years.

Such "cognitive enhancers" could become as "common as coffee", they suggest.

Scientists did not rule out children taking exams facing drug tests, as sportsmen do, to see if any have taken 'performance enhancing substances'.

The report was compiled by 50 experts, who set out their predictions for the next two decades

UK army tested 'stay awake' pills

Special forces sometimes have to stay awake for 48 hours or more
A controversial drug which can keep people awake for days has been tested by the UK military, MPs have been told.

Modafinil pills - known on the drugs scene as "zombies" - are used to treat the rare sleeping disorder narcolepsy.

The Ministry of Defence reportedly stockpiled thousands of pills ahead of the Iraq war but they have never been given to combat personnel.

Defence contractor Qinetiq told the commons' science committee the drug had recently been tested for military use.

Qinetiq scientist Dr Anna Casey told the Science and Technology Committee the MoD funded research into stimulant and performance-enhancing drugs and dietary supplements.

"One is always looking for something that would give military personnel an extra edge," she told the committee which is investigating the use of such drugs in sport.

The strange case of the man who took 40,000 ecstasy pills in nine years

Doctors from London University have revealed details of what they believe is the largest amount of ecstasy ever consumed by a single person. Consultants from the addiction centre at St George's Medical School, London, have published a case report of a British man estimated to have taken around 40,000 pills of MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, over nine years. The heaviest previous lifetime intake on record is 2,000 pills.
Though the man, who is now 37, stopped taking the drug seven years ago, he still suffers from severe physical and mental health side-effects, including extreme memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations and depression. He also suffers from painful muscle rigidity around his neck and jaw which often prevents him from opening his mouth. The doctors believe many of these symptoms may be permanent.

The man, known as Mr A in the report in the scientific journal Psychosomatics, started using ecstasy at 21. For the first two years his use was an average of five pills per weekend. Gradually this escalated until he was taking around three and a half pills a day. At the peak, the man was taking an estimated 25 pills every day for four years. After several severe collapses at parties, Mr A decided to stop taking ecstasy. For several months, he still felt he was under the influence of the drug, despite being bedridden.
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