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Routinely drinking alcohol may raise blood pressure even in adults without hypertension

There was a continuous increase in blood pressure measures in both participants with low and high alcohol intake. Even low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with detectable increases in blood pressure levels that may lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular events.

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Even in adults without hypertension, blood pressure readings may climb more steeply over the years as the number of daily alcoholic drinks rise, according to an analysis of seven international research studies published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

With the statistical power of seven international research studies, this analysis confirms for the first time there was a continuous increase in blood pressure measures in both participants with low and high alcohol intake. Even low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with detectable increases in blood pressure levels that may lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular events.

“We found no beneficial effects in adults who drank a low level of alcohol compared to those who did not drink alcohol,” said senior study author Marco Vinceti, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and public health in the Medical School of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia University in Italy and an adjunct professor in the department of epidemiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health. “We were somewhat surprised to see that consuming an already-low level of alcohol was also linked to higher blood pressure changes over time compared to no consumption – although far less than the blood pressure increase seen in heavy drinkers.”

“Our analysis was based on grams of alcohol consumed and not just on the number of drinks to avoid the bias that might arise from the different amount of alcohol contained in ‘standard drinks’ across countries and/or types of beverages,” said study co-author Tommaso Filippini, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology and public health in the Medical School of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, and affiliate researcher at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health.

Researchers reviewed the health data for all participants across the seven studies for more than five years. They compared adults who drank alcohol regularly with non-drinkers and found:

  • Systolic (top number) blood pressure rose 1.25 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in people who consumed an average of 12 grams of alcohol per day, rising to 4.9 mm Hg in people consuming an average of 48 grams of alcohol per day. (In the U.S., 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits contains about 14 grams of alcohol. Usual alcohol content differs in alcohol available in other countries.)
  • Diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure rose 1.14 mm Hg in people consuming an average of 12 grams of alcohol per day, rising to 3.1 mm Hg in people consuming an average of 48 grams of alcohol per day. These associations were seen in males but not in females. Diastolic blood pressure measures the force against artery walls between heartbeats and is not as strong a predictor of heart disease risk in comparison to systolic.

“Alcohol is certainly not the sole driver of increases in blood pressure; however, our findings confirm it contributes in a meaningful way. Limiting alcohol intake is advised, and avoiding it is even better,” Vinceti said.

Although none of the participants had high blood pressure when they enrolled in the studies, their blood pressure measurements at the beginning did have an impact on the alcohol findings.

”We found participants with higher starting blood pressure readings, had a stronger link between alcohol intake and blood pressure changes over time. This suggests that people with a trend towards increased (although still not “high”) blood pressure may benefit the most from low to no alcohol consumption,” said study co-author Paul K. Whelton, M.D., M.Sc., the Show Chwan Chair in Global Public Health in the department of epidemiology at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans and president of the World Hypertension League. Whelton is also the chair of the American Heart Association’s 2017 Hypertension Practice Guidelines and a member of the writing committee for the Association’s 2021 Scientific Statement on Management of Stage 1 Hypertension in Adults.

According to American Heart Association recommendations, if you don’t drink already, don’t start. If you do drink, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation. The Association also does not recommend drinking any form of alcohol to gain potential health benefits. Instead, follow the Association’s lifestyle and health metrics for optimal cardiovascular health called Life’s Essential 8: eat healthy food, be physically active, don’t smoke, get enough sleep, maintain a healthy weight, and control cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Study details and background:

  • Researchers analyzed data from seven, large, observational studies involving 19,548 adults (65% men), ranging in age from 20 to their early 70s at the start of the studies.
  • The studies were conducted in the United States, Korea and Japan, and published between 1997 and 2021. None of the participants had previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, liver disease, alcoholism or binge drinking.
  • Usual alcoholic beverage intake was recorded at the beginning of each study and the researchers translated this information into a usual number of grams of alcohol consumed daily. The researchers used a new statistical technique that allowed them to combine results from several studies and plot a curve showing the impact of any amount of alcohol typically consumed on changes in blood pressure over time.
  • Systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, measures the force against the artery walls when the heart contracts. It rises steadily with age and is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease risk. Effective blood pressure management is vital to reduce, prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure.

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Alsons Dev welcomes The Abba’s Orchard to Avia Estate

The country’s largest and most esteemed network of authentic Montessori schools, The Abba’s Orchard, breaks ground on June 14 for its 15th campus located in Avia Estate, a township project in Alabel, Sarangani by Alsons Development and Investment Corporation (Alsons Dev).

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The country’s largest and most esteemed network of authentic Montessori schools, The Abba’s Orchard, breaks ground on June 14 for its 15th campus located in Avia Estate, a township project in Alabel, Sarangani by Alsons Development and Investment Corporation (Alsons Dev).

The expansion reflects the school’s mission of “Discover True Montessori Philippines,” offering high-quality education in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region—a mission that aligns with Alsons Dev’s vision to offer vibrant live-work-play-learn communities where families and businesses can thrive. Recognizing this shared purpose, Alsons Dev partnered with The Abba’s Orchard, contributing a substantial two hectares of land within Avia Estate to make the school a reality.

“We at Alsons Dev are thrilled to partner with The Abba’s Orchard in bringing this exceptional learning environment to Alabel,” said Miguel Dominguez, Alsons Dev Director. “This collaboration aligns with our commitment to fostering growth and development within SOCCSKSARGEN.”

Discover how Avia Estate can let you live your best life. For more information about Avia Estate, visit facebook.com/AviaEstate.

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Optimism wards off procrastination

While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame.

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People with an optimistic outlook on the future are less likely to be severe procrastinators, according to new research at the University of Tokyo. While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame. Through a survey of nearly 300 young people, researchers found that those who had a positive view about their stress levels decreasing in the future, compared to the past or present, were less likely to experience severe procrastination. Views on personal well-being didn’t appear to have an effect. Improving people’s outlook and readiness for the future could help them overcome procrastination and achieve a less stressful lifestyle. 

How many times have you made a “to do” list, and although the most important task is at the top, you seem to be working your way up from the bottom or distracted by something else entirely? While we might chide ourselves for procrastinating, sometimes the more we try to overcome it, the more stressed we feel and the cycle continues. That is how it was for graduate student Saya Kashiwakura from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, so she decided to investigate why.

“I have struggled with procrastination since childhood. I would clean my room when I needed to study for a test and prioritize aikido practice over my postgraduate research. This habit of putting off important tasks has been a constant challenge,” said Kashiwakura. “I wanted to change my behavior, as I realized that I was not confronting the future impact of my actions.”

This inspired Kashiwakura to examine the relationship between procrastination and the procrastinator’s perspective on time, particularly their view of the future. When she began researching procrastination, she was surprised to discover that many more people suffer from it than she had imagined and found it reassuring her problems were not unique.

Previous research has shown that a feature of procrastination is disregard for the future or difficulty linking present actions with future outcomes. However, the reasons for this have been unclear. Kashiwakura and co-author Professor Kazuo Hiraki, also from UTokyo, proposed that it might be because severe procrastinators have a more pessimistic outlook. 

The researchers surveyed 296 participants in Japan in their 20s for their views on stress and well-being, and importantly how these changed over time. This included asking about their experiences from 10 years in the past through to the present, and their expectations for 10 years in the future. From the results, participants were clustered into one of four groups (for example, if they thought their situation would improve or would stay the same), and then each group was divided into severe, middle and low procrastinators. 

“Our research showed that optimistic people — those who believe that stress does not increase as we move into the future — are less likely to have severe procrastination habits,” explained Kashiwakura. “This finding helped me adopt a more light-hearted perspective on the future, leading to a more direct view and reduced procrastination.” 

It was not only the level of stress people experienced, but how their perception of it changed over the 20-year time period discussed, which influenced their procrastination habits. Surprisingly, a relationship wasn’t found between procrastination and negative views on well-being, such as one’s attitude towards oneself, or not yet finding purpose and goals in life.

Using these results, the team wants to develop ways to help people nurture a more optimistic mindset and overcome procrastination. “We hope our findings will be particularly useful in the education sector. We believe that students will achieve better outcomes and experience greater well-being when they can comprehend their procrastination tendencies scientifically, and actively work on improving them, rather than blaming themselves,” said Kashiwakura. 

“Thoughts can change with just a few minutes of watching a video or be shaped by years of accumulation. Our next step is to investigate which approach is appropriate this time, and how we can develop the ‘right’ mindset to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.”

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Study shows how night shift work can raise risk of diabetes, obesity

“When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

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Just a few days on a night shift schedule throws off protein rhythms related to blood glucose regulation, energy metabolism and inflammation, processes that can influence the development of chronic metabolic conditions.

The finding, from a study led by scientists at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides new clues as to why night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

“There are processes tied to the master biological clock in our brain that are saying that day is day and night is night and other processes that follow rhythms set elsewhere in the body that say night is day and day is night,” said senior study author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Though more research is needed, Van Dongen said the study shows that these disrupted rhythms can be seen in as little as three days, which suggests early intervention to prevent diabetes and obesity is possible. Such intervention could also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, which is elevated in night shift workers as well.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment with volunteers who were put on simulated night or day shift schedules for three days. Following their last shift, participants were kept awake for 24 hours under constant conditions—lighting, temperature, posture and food intake—to measure their internal biological rhythms without interference from outside influences. 

Blood samples drawn at regular intervals throughout the 24-hour period were analyzed to identify proteins present in blood-based immune system cells. Some proteins had rhythms closely tied to the master biological clock, which keeps the body on a 24-hour rhythm. The master clock is resilient to altered shift schedules, so these protein rhythms didn’t change much in response to the night shift schedule.

However, most other proteins had rhythms that changed substantially in night shift participants compared to the day shift participants.

Looking more closely at proteins involved in glucose regulation, the researchers observed a nearly complete reversal of glucose rhythms in night shift participants. They also found that processes involved in insulin production and sensitivity, which normally work together to keep glucose levels within a healthy range, were no longer synchronized in night shift participants.

The researchers said this effect could be caused by the regulation of insulin trying to undo the glucose changes triggered by the night shift schedule. They said this may be a healthy response in the moment, as altered glucose levels may damage cells and organs, but could be problematic in the long run.

“What we showed is that we can really see a difference in molecular patterns between volunteers with normal schedules and those with schedules that are misaligned with their biological clock,” said Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division. “The effects of this misalignment had not yet been characterized at this molecular level and in this controlled manner before.”

The researchers’ next step will be to study real-world workers to determine whether night shifts cause similar protein changes in long-term shift workers.

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