Roundup: Screenings for 'Unhealthy Alcohol Use;' Salmonella in Raw Turkey; and Low-Carb Diet Benefits

U.S. Panel: Adults Should be Screened for ‘Unhealthy Alcohol Use’

All adults, including pregnant women, should be screened for “unhealthy alcohol use” by their primary care physicians, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises in new guidelines.

For those patients who drink above the recommended limits, doctors should provide brief counseling, according to the new task force statement published this week in the medical journal JAMA.

The USPSTF stated it found “adequate evidence that brief behavioral counseling interventions in adults who screen positive are associated with reduced unhealthy alcohol use.” There were reductions in both “the odds of exceeding recommended drinking limits and heavy use episodes at 6- to 12-month follow-ups.”

The task force said it did not find sufficient evidence to issue a recommendation for or against alcohol screening and counseling for those under the age of 18. The panel says more research is needed.

Unhealthy alcohol use ranks as the third-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., according to the task force. When pregnant women drink, birth defects and developmental problems in their children may follow.

Unhealthy alcohol use means drinking beyond the recommended limits. No more than two drinks in a single day or 14 drinks in a week is the limit drawn for men age 21 to 64, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For women and older men, the institute advises no more than three drinks in one day and no more than seven drinks in a week. There is no safe level of alcohol for pregnant women, according to the institute.

However, clinical studies have linked even moderate drinking — one or two beverages a day containing alcohol — as detrimental to general health. A report earlier this year gathered data from 83 studies in 19 countries, focusing on nearly 600,000 current drinkers.

Consuming more than 100 grams of alcohol — about seven standard glasses of wine or beer — per week was linked with an increased risk of death for all causes, researches concluded. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend people who do not drink alcohol should not start. For adults who do drink, the guidelines suggest men have no more than two drinks per day and advise women who are not pregnant to drink only up to one drink per day.

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Latest Update on Outbreak of Salmonella in Raw Turkey: CDC

There is an outbreak of salmonella linked to raw turkey nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest update.

The CDC said one person has died and 164 have become sick in an outbreak. The person who died was in California. The salmonella strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products and live turkeys, the CDC said. But a “single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys” has not been identified.

Cooking turkey thoroughly will destroy salmonella and other foodborne germs, the CDC advises.

On Thursday, the CDC tweeted a warning for families planning Thanksgiving Day dinner. “For Thanksgiving, thaw your turkey in the fridge, NOT on the counter.” Now 164 people infected with Salmonella in outbreak linked to raw turkey products.”

There’s also an ongoing CDC investigation of a different strain of salmonella linked to raw chicken products. In 2011, an outbreak of a different strain of salmonella linked to ground turkey made 129 people sick and killed one.

“Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria,” the CDC said. “The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.”

Salmonella is a very common cause of food poisoning. Every year, it makes about 1.2 million people sick, puts 23,000 into the hospital and kills 450 people in the U.S.

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Low-Carb Diet Helps Metabolism, Keep Weight Off, Researchers Say

A study involving 164 overweight or obese people found that those on a low-carbohydrate diet burned about 250 calories a day more than those on a high-carbohydrate diet, according to research published this week in the journal BMJ.

The study also found that those who follow a low-carb diet after losing weight may have an advantage at keeping the pounds off through a more efficient metabolism, which refers to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.

The participants involved in the study lost weight, and they monitored to stay at the slimmed down weight while put on a high-, medium-or low-carbohydrate diet for 20 weeks.

While participants were on these diets, their calorie intake was controlled so that they maintained their weight. If a participant started to lose or gain weight, their calorie intake was increased or decreased.

“We found that the type of diet people ate had a major impact on their metabolism. Those on the low-carbohydrate diet burned about 250 calories a day more than those on the high-carbohydrate diet, even though all the groups were the same weight,” said David Ludwig, M.D., principal investigator of the study and co-director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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