New hangover cure could change the culture
By Mike Hanlon
December 8, 2005
December 9, 2005 The launch of a promising new hangover cure in Las Vegas next week marks an interesting time to reflect on man’s relationship with alcohol. Cheerz is a safe, natural nutrition supplement that has been clinically proven to combat hangover symptoms such as headaches and nausea by bolstering the body's ability to process acetaldehyde, alcohol's most toxic metabolite. The world per capita consumption of alcohol is higher than ever, having begun at the dawn of civilisation, with the Celts, Ancient Greeks, the Norse, Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans and Babylonians all producing, trading and consuming alcoholic drinks. The Romans and ancient Greeks both worshipped Gods of wine – Dionysus and Bacchus respectively. In different cultures, alcohol and its effects have been used medically, ritualistically and socially in many different ways to calm feuds, give courage in battle, seal pacts, celebrate festivals, and seduce lovers. The world has two billion alcohol drinkers of which 76.3 million have diagnosed alcohol use disorders. The global burden of alcohol consumption, is immense - causing 3.2% of deaths and 4.0% of the Disability-Adjusted Life Years lost along with widespread social, mental and emotional consequences. These are reflected, for example, as absenteeism or abuse in workplaces and in relationships. We attempted to estimate the number of hangovers and reduced productivity in the world each day and gave up – it’s a lot. Which all adds up to … bloody good idea! The vast majority are social drinkers who can now enjoy the desirable effects without the unhealthy toxicity. So if bartenders are going to ask customers to name their poison, maybe they should offer the antidote, too.
A recent Japanese study in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research identified acetaldehyde as the culprit behind hangovers. In June, scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported that acetaldehyde damages DNA in a series of reactions that can lead to cancer.
A 2004 placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study at the University of Southern California found that Cheerz was effective in 78% of participants who consumed eight drinks or more.
Cheerz is naturally enough promoting a healthy, responsible attitude to drinking though it’s hard to miss the relevance of launching the product amidst the glitter of the world’s most notorious party town. There’ll no doubt be a cry from some quarters that the advertising and promotion of an antidote will see even more damage done. We come down on the side of better and more education about health and alcohol and drugs in general.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are about 2 billion people worldwide consuming alcoholic beverages and 76.3 million with diagnosed alcohol use disorders. From a public health perspective, the global burden related to alcohol consumption, both in terms of morbidity and mortality, is considerable in most parts of the world. Globally, alcohol consumption causes 3.2% of deaths (1.8 million) and 4.0% of the Disability-Adjusted Life Years lost (58.3 million).
Overall, there are causal relationships between alcohol consumption and more than 60 types of disease and injury. Alcohol consumption is the leading risk factor for disease burden in low mortality developing countries, and the third largest risk factor in developed countries (for more data please refer to WHO, 2002). In Europe alone, alcohol consumption was responsible for over 55,000 deaths among young people aged 15 to 29 years in 1999 (Rehm & Gmel, 2002). Besides the numerous chronic and acute health effects, alcohol consumption is also associated with widespread social, mental and emotional consequences. These are reflected, for example, as absenteeism or abuse in workplaces and in relationships.
On a population level, alcohol-related harm is not confined to the relatively small number of heavy drinkers or people diagnosed with alcohol use disorders. Even non-drinkers can become victims of alcohol-related aggression, for example. Light and moderate drinkers, i.e. the majority of the population in many countries, who occasionally drink at high risk levels, while being individually responsible for fewer harms than heavy drinkers, are collectively responsible, due to their greater numbers, for the largest share of alcohol’s burden on society.
To alleviate this burden of alcohol consumption, many countries have, across time, employed a great diversity of strategies. Alcohol policy, i.e. measures by government to control supply and demand, minimize alcohol-related harm and promote public health, is among the most important strategies. At the same time there are other factors influencing consumption and harm, such as level of production, political liberalization, marketing, and demographics, which are mostly outside of government control. In short, alcohol control measures affect alcohol consumption levels and drinking habits, which in turn have an effect on alcoholrelated social and health problems.
Research evidence shows that it is possible to develop and implement comprehensive and effective alcohol policies. In the past twenty years, considerable progress has been made in the scientific understanding of the relationship between alcohol policies, alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Ideally, this cumulative research evidence should provide a scientific basis for public debate and governmental policymaking in search of policies that protect health, prevent disability and address the social problems associated with alcohol consumption.
A copy of this report can be obtained here.