Drinking alcohol is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy

Drinking alcohol is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy

A study of the associations between drinking alcohol and the chances of becoming pregnant suggests that women who want to conceive should avoid heavy drinking. In the second half of menstrual cycle even moderate drinking is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy.

The study, published today in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, investigated alcohol intake and fecundability, which is defined as the probability of conceiving during a single menstrual cycle. It is the first study to look at this according to the difference phases of women’s menstrual cycles.

Researchers led by Dr. Kira Taylor, associate professor of epidemiology and population health at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences (Kentucky), analyzed data from the Mount Sinai Study of Women Office Workers. Women aged 19-41 years were recruited between 1990 and 1994 and followed for a maximum of 19 menstrual cycles. The women completed daily diaries reporting how much alcohol they drank and what type, and they provided urine samples on the first and second day of each menstrual cycle in order to check for pregnancy.

Heavy drinking was defined as more than six alcoholic drinks a week, moderate drinking was three to six drinks a week, and binge drinking was defined as four or more drinks on a single day. Each drink consisted of a third of a liter of beer (355 milliliters), a medium glass of wine (148 milliliters), or just under a double shot of spirits (44 milliliters). The researchers collected information on factors that could affect the results, such as age, medical history, smoking, obesity, use of birth control methods and intention to become pregnant. Data on 413 women were available for the current study.

Dr. Taylor said: “We found that heavy drinking during any phase of the menstrual cycle was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception compared to non-drinkers. This is important because some women who are trying to conceive might believe it is ‘safe’ to drink during certain parts of the menstrual cycle.

“During the luteal phase, which is the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle before bleeding would start and when the process of implantation occurs, not only heavy drinking but also moderate drinking was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception.

“At the time of ovulation, usually around day 14 of the cycle, consuming a lot of alcohol—either heavy or binge drinking—was significantly associated with reduced chances of conception.”

Compared to non-drinkers both moderate and heavy drinking during the luteal phase was linked to a reduction in the odds of conceiving by about 44%. Heavy drinking during the ovulatory part of the cycle was also associated with significant 61% reduced odds of becoming pregnant. However, the researchers stress these are all estimates and should be treated with caution.

“If we assume that a typical, healthy, non-drinking woman in the general population who is trying to conceive has approximately a 25% chance of conceiving during one menstrual cycle, then out of 100 women approximately 25 non-drinkers would conceive in a particular cycle, about 20 moderate drinkers would conceive and only about 11 heavy drinkers would conceive,” said Dr. Taylor. “But the effect of moderate drinking during the luteal phase is more pronounced and only about 16 moderate drinkers would conceive.

“Our study only included a few hundred women and, while we believe the results strongly suggest that heavy and even moderate alcohol intake affects the ability to conceive, the exact percentages and numbers should be viewed as rough estimates.”

Each extra day of binge drinking was associated with an approximate 19% reduction in the odds of conceiving during the luteal phase and a 41% reduction during the ovulatory phase. The researchers found no difference in their results between different types of drinks.

The study is not able to show that drinking alcohol causes the reduction in the chances of becoming pregnant, only that it is associated with it. Possible biological mechanisms that might explain the association could be that alcohol intake affects the processes involved in ovulation so that no egg is released during the ovulatory part of the cycle, and that alcohol could affect the ability of a fertilized egg to implant in the womb.

Dr. Taylor said: “This is the first study to examine the effect of alcohol on fecundability during specific phases of the menstrual cycle, using daily data on alcohol and other important factors such as smoking and unprotected intercourse over a period of up to 19 menstrual cycles.”

Limitations of the study included the fact that not all women were trying to conceive; alcohol intake has increased since the time of the study and the women in the study were leaner, on average, than women today; the study used self-reported data and women might under-report their alcohol consumption; and the influence of drinking by male partners was not assessed.

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Can Drinking Lots of Water Flush Out COVID-19?

Water is amazing stuff. About 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in it, and up to 60 percent of the human body is made of water. It’s essential for keeping us alive in plenty of ways—it helps you get rid of waste, helps you keep your body temperature regulated and your joints, spinal cord, and tissues in working order. And that doesn’t even count its role in preventing dehydration, a problem that can lead to unclear thinking, kidney stones, constipation, and overheating.

One thing it can’t do: Flush out the coronavirus, despite the popular myth that drinking water every 15 minutes could do such a thing. There’s a lot of information floating around on the internet, and there’s also plenty of content that consists of well-meaning advice, hopeful rumors, and blatant bad information that gets circulated among people digitally or in person.

That second type of content is where this myth falls. Facebook posts claimed the advice to drink water every 15 minutes to flush out the coronavirus and protect yourself from COVID-19 came from Japanese doctors, and that sipping would wash the virus down your throat and into the stomach where stomach acid would kill the virus. (But you’re not basing your health advice on Facebook posts, right?)

In reality, it doesn’t work that way. Drinking water frequently isn’t bad for you—check out how much you really need in a day here. (It’s not necessarily 8 glasses.) You just can’t expect water, no matter how frequently you sip it, to “flush out” the novel coronavirus.

As Krys Johnson, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Temple University, put it to the myth-busting site Factcheck.org, water consumption “has no bearing on the virus getting into your airways and lungs; if you breathe an infected person’s respiratory droplets, the virus will travel through your airways.”

So to put it another way, drinking water won’t keep the coronavirus from getting in your airways and lungs and taking up shop there and causing COVID-19.

What water can do against the coronavirus

The best use of water to prevent COVID-19: You knew “wash your hands” was going to come up somewhere, so here there it is. You know what to do. It’s not that the virus enters your body through your hands, it’s that your hands touch your face, and the virus gets into your mucus membranes that way. So you’ve got to wash it off before it can get inside and cause you trouble.

Another water-based myth that’s also floating around the internet is that taking a bath in very hot water can prevent a COVID-19 infection. The theory is that it would raise your body temperature and deactivate the virus. But the WHO says, “Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C [97.7 to 98.6], regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you.” But a normal, warm bath? That’s fine for you, your body, and your health. But again, it’s not a coronavirus fighter.

Of course, you should still drink water and bathe as you like in a day. Just don’t expect either of those uses of water to miraculously protect you from COVID-19. Get a refresher from the CDC on what does actually help protect you from the disease here.

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Binge Drinking Soared During Lockdown: Survey

TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic and the life stresses it triggers are exacerbating binge drinking, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted an online survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults from mid-March to mid-April 2020, coinciding with a pandemic-related stay-at-home order (“lockdown”). Based on the answers, each participant was categorized as a binge drinker, a non-binge drinker or a non-drinker.

About 32% of respondents reported binge drinking during the pandemic, and binge drinkers had increased their alcohol intake during this time versus before the lockdown. Non-binge drinkers were consuming the same amount of alcohol as they had before, the findings showed.

The odds of heavy alcohol consumption among binge drinkers — considered to be men who consumed five or more drinks and women who consumed four or more drinks within two hours — rose an extra 19% for every week of stay-at-home orders.

The odds of increased alcohol intake overall for binge drinkers was more than double that of people who did not drink excessively: 60% compared to 28%. This was especially true for those with depression or a history of the disease, the investigators found.

“Increased time spent at home is a life stressor that impacts drinking, and the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated this stress,” said researcher Sitara Weerakoon, a PhD candidate from the University of Texas.

“Future research should consider the potential for depressive symptoms acting as a moderator [a factor that changes the impact] in the relation between the time spent under a shelter-in-place mandate and binge drinking,” she added.

The study was published online Dec. 7 in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

“Additional research is needed to develop best treatment for people with substance use disorders who may be more susceptible to adverse health outcomes,” Weerakoon said in a journal news release.

The researchers found that binge drinkers, on average, drank four drinks per occasion during the pandemic. They drank seven drinks maximum on one occasion. Non-binge drinkers drank two drinks both on average and at maximum.

The investigators analyzed a variety of factors and found that, on average, the respondents had been in lockdown for four weeks, spending 21 hours a day at home. About 72% were not leaving their home for work.

Study limitations include that the survey data was self-reported and the question on binge drinking didn’t specify a time within which the alcohol was consumed. A majority of the survey participants were high-wage earners, which is a factor associated with hazardous alcohol use.

To prevent long-lasting health consequences, the researchers called for new intervention and prevention strategies for people in isolation who are at risk of hazardous drinking.

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Excessive drinking responsible for 255 deaths per day in U.S.

(HealthDay)—Excessive drinking was responsible for an average of 255 deaths per day in the United States during 2011 to 2015, according to research published in the July 31 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Marissa B. Esser, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues estimated national and state average annual alcohol-attributable deaths and years of potential life lost (YPLL) during 2011 to 2015, including deaths from one’s own excessive drinking and from others’ drinking.

An average of 93,296 alcohol-attributable deaths (255 per day) and 2.7 million YPLL (29 years of life lost per death, on average) were identified in the United States each year. The researchers found that 54.7 percent of all alcohol-attributable deaths were caused by chronic conditions and 56.0 percent involved adults aged 35 to 64 years. Per 100,000 population, age-adjusted alcohol-attributable deaths ranged from 20.3 in New Jersey and New York to 52.3 in New Mexico. Per 100,000 population, YPLL varied from 613.8 in New York to 1,651.7 in New Mexico.

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