Tag Archives: alcohol

Loneliness linked to phantom cigarettes

By Calvin Palmer

Today’s online edition of The Guardian features an article about the loneliness epidemic sweeping the UK.

The article stresses the health risks associated with loneliness and cites a report that states loneliness is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

That assertion is linked to an article in the Mail Online, which proclaims social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, according to research by Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad, of Brigham Young University in Utah and data obtained from 300,000 people.

Alas, the Mail Online article does not specify just how loneliness can be equated with smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And why is it 15 cigarettes instead of say 10 or five?

Is there a body of knowledge that can precisely show the effects on a person’s health of each cigarette smoked on a daily basis?

And what if a person is lonely and smokes 15 cigarettes a day, does that mean they are effectively smoking 30 cigarettes a day?

It all sounds rather implausible to me and smacks of the kind of junk science that is used to support anti-smoking and anti-tobacco measures the world over.

A photograph accompanying the Mail Online article has the caption: Me, myself and I: Loneliness can be as damaging for your health as smoking, research shows [sic]

Clearly working for the Mail Online means you do not end a sentence with a full stop. I wonder how damaging that can be to a person’s health? It is certainly damaging to your reputation as a working journalist.

And why does the caption only mention smoking when alcohol was also mentioned in the study?

It strikes me the Mail Online, like most of the mainstream media, has an anti-smoking agenda.

What’s the betting that every person associated with that article reaching the public is a non-smoker? I will wager they all like a few pints of beer or a few glasses of wine, hence the link to alcohol being downplayed.

You couldn’t make it up, could you? Well, actually they do.

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Girl, 7, drove vehicle to get help after crash killed her father

By Calvin Palmer

A seven-year-old girl drove the family vehicle three miles to get help after a rollover crash killed her father, police said today.

Elizabeth Kazza took the wheel after the vehicle went off a highway in New Mexico, rolled over and came to rest in a field in Curry County on Saturday night, state police Capt Jimmy Glascock said.

Her father Guillermo Montes, 40, of Bovina, Texas, was speeding and his Jeep Cherokee failed to make a turn. He was thrown out of the vehicle.

Realizing her father was dead, Elizabeth drove for about three miles until a passing motorist spotted her, Glascock said.

“It took a lot of courage,” he said. “It’s remarkable anybody could drive after something like that.”

Police found Montes dead at the scene of the accident.

Elizabeth and her four-year-old brother were treated for minor injuries at Plains Regional Medical Center.

She told officers that her father was driving back from Clovis, 25 miles from their home, having been there to get beer when the crash occurred.

Police believe alcohol played a part in the crash. Beer bottles were found at the scene.

Glascock said that Elizabeth and her younger brother said their father was drinking while driving.

[Based on reports by newsday.com and the Clovis News Journal.]

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Ohio student faces suspension if he attends girlfriend’s high school prom

By Calvin Palmer

A fundamentalist Baptist school in Ohio will suspend one its students if he attends his girlfriend’s high school prom because the event involves rock music and dancing.

Despite the warning, issued by a school committee on Wednesday, 17-year-old Tyler Frost says he plans to attend Saturday’s dance at Findlay High School.

Frost attends Heritage Christian School, which forbids dancing, rock music, hand holding and kissing.

Heritage principal Tim England says Frost will be suspended from classes and receive an “incomplete” on remaining assignments.

He will not be permitted to attend any graduation ceremonies with his class of four students, but will receive his diploma once he completes his final exams.

If Frost “is involved with alcohol or sex” at the prom, he will be expelled from Heritage, England said.

Frost’s stepfather, Stephan Johnson, said he plans to file a lawsuit against the school.

Frost has attended Heritage Christian, a ministry of Calvary Baptist Church, since kindergarten. Other than a detention in seventh grade, Frost has never had disciplinary problems.

“He deserves to wear that cap and gown,” Johnson said.

According to the school handbook, rock music “is part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of rebellion in young people’s hearts and minds”.

The school also forbids physical contact between girls and boys in grades 7-12.

Johnson believes those rules should not, and do not, apply outside the classroom. He said many students and their parents do not know the scope of the handbook’s rules.

“How many people at that school know that when country music comes on, their kid could be expelled? Ninety percent of the school could be expelled,” Johnson said.

England said Frost agreed to the school’s rules when he signed a statement of cooperation at the beginning of the school year.

“Our stand on this issue should be of no surprise to the student or his parents,” England said in a statement. “For the parents to claim any injustice regarding this issue is at best forgetful and at worst disingenuous. It is our hope that the student and his parents will abide by the policies they have already agreed to.”

England said he has never known a Heritage Christian student to attend Findlay’s prom and he has been principal for 13 years.

Findlay High School requires students attending prom from other schools to get a signature from their principal.

England signed the form for Frost, but told him there would be “consequences” if he attended the dance, Frost said.

“I expected a short lecture about making the right decisions and not doing something stupid,” Frost said. “I thought I would get his signature and that would be the end.”

Instead, England took the issue to the school committee, made up of church members, where they decided to suspend Frost.

“In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. Frost chose one path, and the school committee chose the other,” England said.

Craig Kupferberg, the principal of Findlay High School, said he respects but does not agree with Heritage Christian School’s view of prom activities.

“I don’t see dancing and rock music as immoral acts,” Kupferberg said.

I take it the Heritage school motto is not “Let the good times roll”.

And well done Mr England for hiding behind the skirts of the school committee, how very democratic.

It would be a fitting retribution to lock him, and the committee, in a room and play hours of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Full marks go to Tyler Frost for having an independent mind. Whereas he will have the support and best wishes of fair-minded people the world over, England and his pious cronies will only have their contempt.

[Based on reports by The Courier and newsday.com.]

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Drugs and alcohol found in blood of father charged with five deaths

By Calvin Palmer

The Houston father whose car went out of control into a flooded bayou, killing five children, had traces of PCP, marijuana and alcohol in his blood.

Prosecutors had already revealed in court that Chanton Jenkins’ blood alcohol level was 0.079 and 0.082 some 2½ hours after the crash on April 18, when he veered off Greens Road into 9 feet of fast-moving water in a Harris County Flood Control drainage ditch.

A source close to the investigation revealed that the results of blood tests became known on Tuesday and also confirmed the presence of the drugs in Jenkins’ blood.

The 32-year-old unemployed father-of-seven is being held in jail and faces five charges of intoxication manslaughter.

Dreton Thompson, aged 11, Malik Barlow, aged seven, Devin Jenkins, aged four, Hallie Jenkins, aged four, and Karrinton Jenkins, aged one, were killed in the accident. Autopsies revealed they had all drowned. None of them was wearing a seatbelt or strapped into a child seat.

Jenkins was the father of three of the victims, as well as the only child to survive — 10-year-old girl Jada Barnes who has since been placed in foster care. Jenkins’ adult brother also survived.

PCP, or phencyclidine, is known as angel dust. It can cause hallucinations, disorientation, lack of sensation and bursts of superhuman strength. Users may be impaired by the drug for up to 24 hours.

[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]

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Most women unaware of alcohol link to breast cancer

By Calvin Palmer

A survey in the UK has found that women are unaware of the link between excessive alcohol consumption and breast cancer.
 
The YouGov survey interviewed 2,000 men and women; 82 percent of the women were not aware of the link, compared to 95 percent who did link it with liver disease and 71 percent who were aware it increased the risk of liver cancer.
 
Women who drink one large glass of wine a day, the equivalent of 21 units of alcohol a week compared with the recommended 15 units, increase their lifetime risk of breast cancer by 20 percent.
 
Drinking two glasses of wine a night increases the risk by 33 percent and three large glasses means an increased risk of more than 50 percent.
 
Dr. Sarah Cant from the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said: “Although many factors might affect our risk of getting breast cancer, limiting how much we drink is one thing we can do to try to reduce that risk.  It is never too late to change your drinking habits.”
 
So if wine is out, what about a cup of coffee?  The latest research suggests no statistically significant link between consumption of coffee and caffeinated beverages and the overall risk of breast cancer.
 
However the study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and Tokyo Women’s Medical University in Japan did uncover and increased risk of cancer, 68 percent, for women with benign breast disease who drank four or more cups of coffee a day.
 
Caffeine consumption was also linked to an increased risk, 79 percent, of tumors that are hormone-receptor negative or larger than two centimeters.  These cancers have a less favorable prognosis, suggesting that caffeine may affect breast cancer progression.
 
Dr. Cant said: “Where the researchers do suggest an increased risk of certain types of breast cancer, it is important to note that these results are from such small numbers of women that they may be due to chance.
 
“At this state, we would not advise women to change their caffeine habits purely because of fears over breast cancer.  We do know you can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol and exercising regularly.”

[Based on reports by BBC News, The Daily Telegraph and the Los Angeles Times.]

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Police chief goes downhill to absurdity

By Calvin Palmer

The British House of Commons Culture Committee is reviewing the 24-hour drinking law in Britain.
 
The members of the committee, Members of Parliament, are hearing testimony from the usual suspects – senior police officers and leading members of the Police Federation.
 
It is police officers who stand in the front line when the consumption of alcohol leads to anti-social behavior on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities.  Because pubs and bars can close at whatever time they choose, rather than the fixed 11 p.m. of old, police resources are being stretched.
 
The vice chairman of the Police Federation, Simon Reed, told the Committee: “At times policing is being really stretched, often in the smaller towns more than in the bigger cities.
 
“My impression of many market towns is they are really like the Wild West on occasion because they are really stripped of resources.”
 
Chief Inspector Adrian Studd, representing the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “The actual levels of crime and disorder remain the same but, across the piste, crime and disorder has decreased earlier in the evening but increased in the early hours.  People still keep getting drunk.”
 
“Across the piste!”  I take it Chief Insp Studd was breathalysed to make sure that he wasn’t.
 
What kind of talk is that from one of Her Majesty’s constabulary?  I am not aware Britain boasts a swathe of Alpine ski resorts.
 
Or is “piste” the latest buzz word in management jargon?
 
Maybe he has just returned from a skiing holiday but I would have thought it is a bit too early for that.  There won’t be much snow on the pistes of the Alps just yet.  Give it another month.
 
If he is going to use a holiday reference, “across the beach” would be more appropriate.  And if he is determined to show just how cosmopolitan he, maybe “across the plage” or “across the playa” would be better.
 
Perhaps Chief Insp Studd should have kept to the Wild West theme and talked of “across the prairie,” “across the border” or even “across the sierra,” if he has got a thing about slopes.
 
From where I am sitting, he sounds like Wyatt Twerp.  The usual expression is the tried and trusted “across the board.”  It is plain and to the point and stops people like me from being piste off by nonsense to the point of absurdity.
 
[Based on a report by The Daily Telegraph.]

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