Are you a binge drinker?

A glass of wine at dinner or a few drinks on a Saturday night is pretty common practice.

But, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that many Americans consume way more than just that.

Researchers found that 17 percent of the U.S. population, or 37 million adults, binge drink once a week. Binge drinking is classified as consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour time span.
Scientists analyzed data from the CDC’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and then calculated the results.

According to the study, the average binge drinker consumes seven drinks per binge. This translates to 470 binge drinks per drinker and more than 17 million drinks across the U.S. adult population in 2015.

The study also states that binge drinking accounts for more than half of the 88,000 U.S. deaths that result from excessive drinking annually.

“Binge drinkers are more likely to engage in violent acts toward themselves or others and experience unintentional injuries associated with dangerous driving, risky sexual behavior and falls,” says Lauren Evelsizer, corporate services clinician for the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Excessive alcohol use can lead to long-lasting health problems including hypertension, stroke, heart disease, liver disease and cancer.”

The report shows that demographics such as age, sex, social factors and geographic location also play a role in the amount of alcohol consumed by individuals.

The study shows that four in five binge drinkers were men and more than half of the binge drinkers were 35 years and older.

In addition, yearly income and educational levels played a significant role. Individuals with household incomes less than $25,000 per year and education levels less than a high school diploma consumed more drinks per year compared to others.

According to the report, the states where the most alcohol was consumed were Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky and Hawaii.  Although binge drinking is a common problem, there are ways to reduce the urge.

“If people desire to drink alcohol, it is best to do so in moderation — up to one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men. People can also reduce their tendencies to binge drink by engaging in healthier methods of coping like exercise and meditation,” says Evelsizer.

Researchers develop injectable bandage

A penetrating injury from shrapnel is a serious obstacle in overcoming battlefield wounds that can ultimately lead to death.Given the high mortality rates due to hemorrhaging, there is an unmet need to quickly self-administer materials that prevent fatality due to excessive blood loss.

With a gelling agent commonly used in preparing pastries, researchers from the Inspired Nanomaterials and Tissue Engineering Laboratory have successfully fabricated an injectable bandage to stop bleeding and promote wound healing.
In a recent article "Nanoengineered Injectable Hydrogels for Wound Healing Application" published in Acta Biomaterialia, Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, uses kappa-carrageenan and nanosilicates to form injectable hydrogels to promote hemostasis (the process to stop bleeding) and facilitate wound healing via a controlled release of therapeutics.

"Injectable hydrogels are promising materials for achieving hemostasis in case of internal injuries and bleeding, as these biomaterials can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches," said Gaharwar. "An ideal injectable bandage should solidify after injection in the wound area and promote a natural clotting cascade. In addition, the injectable bandage should initiate wound healing response after achieving hemostasis."

The study uses a commonly used thickening agent known as kappa-carrageenan, obtained from seaweed, to design injectable hydrogels. Hydrogels are a 3-D water swollen polymer network, similar to Jell-O, simulating the structure of human tissues.

When kappa-carrageenan is mixed with clay-based nanoparticles, injectable gelatin is obtained. The charged characteristics of clay-based nanoparticles provide hemostatic ability to the hydrogels. Specifically, plasma protein and platelets form blood adsorption on the gel surface and trigger a blood clotting cascade.

"Interestingly, we also found that these injectable bandages can show a prolonged release of therapeutics that can be used to heal the wound" said Giriraj Lokhande, a graduate student in Gaharwar's lab and first author of the paper. "The negative surface charge of nanoparticles enabled electrostatic interactions with therapeutics thus resulting in the slow release of therapeutics."

More information: Giriraj Lokhande et al. Nanoengineered injectable hydrogels for wound healing application, Acta Biomaterialia (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.01.045

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