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Vol. LXI, No. 15
July 24, 2009
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  An NIAAA-supported study has found that alcohol-related deaths among U.S. college students rose from 1,440 deaths in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, along with increases in heavy drinking and drunk driving.  
  An NIAAA-supported study has found that alcohol-related deaths among U.S. college students rose from 1,440 deaths in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, along with increases in heavy drinking and drunk driving.  

As College Drinking Problems Rise, New Studies Identify Prevention Strategies

Alcohol-related deaths among U.S. college students rose from 1,440 deaths in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, along with increases in heavy drinking and drunk driving, according to an article in the July supplement of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.  

The special issue describes the results of a broad array of research-based programs to reduce and prevent alcohol-related problems at campuses across the country. These studies resulted from the Rapid Response to College Drinking Problems Initiative, a grant program supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Reviewing the magnitude of the college alcohol problem, Dr. Ralph Hingson and colleagues analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government sources. They found that serious problems persist, as indicated by the increase in drinking- related accidental deaths among 18- to 24-year-old students. In this population, most unintentional alcohol-related injury deaths result from traffic-related incidents. In addition, the researchers found the proportion of students who reported recent heavy episodic drinking—sometimes called binge drinking, defined as 5 or more alcoholic drinks on any occasion in the past 30 days—rose from roughly 42 percent to 45 percent, and the proportion who admitted to drinking and driving in the past year increased from 26.5 percent to 29 percent.

New Biomarker Method Could Increase Number of Diagnostic Tests for Cancer

A team of researchers has demonstrated that a new method for detecting and quantifying protein biomarkers in body fluids may ultimately make it possible to screen multiple biomarkers in hundreds of patient samples, thus ensuring that only the strongest biomarker candidates will advance down the development pipeline. The researchers have created a method with the potential to increase accuracy in detecting real cancer biomarkers that is highly reproducible across laboratories and a variety of instruments so that cancer can be caught in its earliest stages.

The results of the Clinical Proteomic Technology Assessment for Cancer study, which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and partner organizations, appeared online June 28 in Nature Biotechnology.

“These findings are significant because they provide a potential solution for eliminating one of the major hurdles in validating protein biomarkers for clinical use. Thousands of cancer biomarkers are discovered every day, but only a handful ever makes it through clinical validation. This is a critical roadblock because biomarkers have the potential to allow doctors to detect cancer in the earliest stages, when treatment provides the greatest chances of survival,” said NCI director Dr. John Niederhuber. “The critical limiting factor to date in validating biomarkers for clinical use has been the lack of standardized technologies and methodologies in the biomarker discovery and validation process, and this research may solve that dilemma.”

NIDA Study Shows School-Based Prevention Program Reduces Problem Behaviors

A study suggests that school-based prevention programs begun in elementary school can significantly reduce problem behaviors in students. Fifth graders who previously participated in a comprehensive interactive school prevention program for 1 to 4 years were about half as likely to engage in substance abuse, violent behavior or sexual activity as those who did not take part in the program. The study, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will appear in the August 2009 print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

“This study provides compelling evidence that intervening with young children is a promising approach to preventing drug use and other problem behaviors,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow. “The fact that an intervention beginning in the first grade produced a significant effect on children’s behavior in the fifth grade strengthens the case for initiating prevention programs in elementary school, before most children have begun to engage in problem behaviors.”

The study was conducted in 20 public elementary schools in Hawaii. The intervention tested was Positive Action, a comprehensive K-12 social and emotional development program for enhancing behavior and academic achievement. The program consists of daily 15-20-minute interactive lessons focusing on such topics as responsible self-management, getting along with others and self-improvement.

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