Get to Know FASD – Alberta Government Supports and Resources

Get to know FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a preventable, lifelong disability resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol that has no cure. Addressing FASD is a complex, multidimensional social and public health issue.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause irreversible brain damage to an unborn child. No alcohol is best.

FASD is the umbrella term used to describe a range of disabilities that may include physical birth defects and health problems including developmental delays, learning disabilities, memory problems, as well as difficulties in communicating feelings and understanding consequences.

One of every 100 babies born in Canada is affected by FASD.

FASD is a lifelong disability. A child with FASD grows up to be an adult with FASD.

Individuals with FASD may require extensive support and services related to health, mental health, social services, education and training, justice, addictions, and family supports throughout their lives.

Due to a gap in understanding communication, internal structure of time and consequences:

  • FASD can often lead to disrupted school experiences.
  • Children who have an alcohol-related birth defect have difficulty learning from past experience. This makes their behaviour unpredictable and can also make them vulnerable to high risk behaviours and situations.
  • Research has shown a significant number of individuals in the criminal justice system have been pre-natally exposed to alcohol.
  • Information should be communicated in a different way to a person that is living with FASD to help them have a better learning experience. For instance, joking or teasing an individual with FASD can often lead to misunderstanding and hurt feelings. Care should be used when using humour.
  • A person with FASD may not be able to foresee a potential risk or consequence, they may see nothing. Creating an established routine will help an individual create structure for their day and better understand what to do through the course of the a day and eliminate potential surprises.
  • There may be difficulty with sensory overload and self-regulation, leading to uncontrolled emotional outbursts.

The affects of FASD may become more pronounced in an individual’s life into adulthood.  There may be an increase in obstacles that creates difficulties from holding a steady job to drug and alcohol abuse through to crime and homelessness. A key part of the transitioning stage from childhood to adulthood for an individual with FASD is to help them accept and understand the need for supportive and assisted living.

To learn more about FASD, visit or see the FASD Strategies Not Solutions handbook.

An excerpt from the Alberta FASD website.

Good Reminders for FASD Awareness Campaigns



With many organizations and communities developing awareness materials from seminars and training to social media activities throughout the year, it is important to be mindful of the message and language used in these campaigns.

In the past decade, awareness about FASD has increased and in many communities the majority of women are aware that alcohol consumption can cause harm during pregnancy. However, new research and ongoing media coverage continue to raise questions about whether any alcohol use during pregnancy is okay or whether risk remains the same throughout pregnancy. And many people know very little about FASD in general.

In addition to addressing this type of ambiguity, there are a number of other types of messages that have been shown to be helpful, informative and supportive. Depending on who your audience is (see the infographic below about some different audiences you could consider), some of the other issues to consider in developing FASD prevention messages include:

  • Make sure that messages are balanced and informative. Indistinct or ambiguous messages about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy should be avoided. Messages like “Think before you drink” or “Alcohol can harm your unborn baby” can be perceived as threatening without helping women place risk into context.
  • Avoid focusing on encouraging women to stop drinking for their baby or suggesting that women who don’t stop drinking are uncaring or irresponsible. This includes messages like “When you drink during pregnancy so does your baby” or messages written on top of pregnant bellies saying “Hey, I’m in here!”  Lessons from the tobacco and pregnancy field indicate that these messages are not effective and can be perceived as shaming and blaming women who are unable to stop drinking during pregnancy due to problems with alcohol dependence.
  • The message that “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is 100% preventable” is controversial as alcohol use often happens before a woman recognizes that she is pregnant or can be tied to other serious health and social issues such as poverty and experiences of violence.
  • Don’t forget that preventing pregnancy by supporting accessible and safe contraception is an excellent FASD prevention strategy – it’s not always necessary to focus on alcohol use. For example, a message could say something like “Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. If you drink alcohol and are sexually active, make sure you use effective contraception.

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Alcohol Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer – Research Suggests


06-fruit-smoothies-mango-12By ANDREA WHITE

The recent rise of cancer in the world can be explained by looking at not one but several environmental, genetic, and hormonal factors. Similarly, such aspects can also be observed to see the rise in cases of breast cancer across the world.

Recent studies have suggested further reasons that can give details on breast cancer.  For example, a research from May 2016 has highlighted the impact of lifestyle factors on breast cancer in women including the amount of alcohol intake.

Know about the types of breast cancer here. 

In addition, a Danish study published in the British Journal of Medicine took into account the connection between alcohol intake and breast cancer providing the researchers with further information on the issue.

The Danish researchers concentrated on the changes in intake of alcohol in women over the past five years and concluded that the women who increased their alcohol consumption had a higher chance of developing breast cancer.

Women who added as little as two more drinks in their daily routine in five years had thirty percent higher risk of breast cancer than the women who had the same and unchanged amount of alcohol in their daily diets.

Furthermore, the study also saw a twenty percent decrease in chances of developing heart disease in the women who increased their alcohol consumption. However, the researchers unanimously agreed that there are other ways to lower heart disease chances which do not increase the risk of cancer.

How does alcohol increase the chances of breast cancer?

There is now a good number of studies available that corroborate the fact that an increased alcohol intake leads to an increased danger of hormone receptive positive breast cancer.

The higher amount of alcohol causes an overproduction of estrogen and other hormones which are linked to hormone receptive positive breast cancer along with damaging the DNA in the cells.

Hence, women who drink three alcoholic drinks a day have a fifteen percent higher risk of breast cancer than those who do not have alcohol in their diets at all. In accordance with, the risk of breast cancer increase by ten percent with an addition of an alcoholic drink to a day.

A study conducted by University of Houston in 2016 provided further details on the effects of alcohol on the women’s bodies.

It showed that alcohol not only triggers an extra production of estrogen but makes the cancer-treating drug Tamoxifen which is used popularly to block excessive estrogen production ineffective.

Therefore, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises women to have no more than one drink a day. If your consumption is even less than this, it is advised that you do not increase your diet anymore.

How do you really define a ‘drink’?

It is important to know what all of the studies on the link between breast cancer and alcohol refer to as a drink as there are differences in many types of alcohols and their amount.  Having a glass of wine is not the same as having a glass of martini.

Both of them look like a single drink to most of the people. In reality, a ‘dirty’ martini contains about six ounces of vodka. This is actually equivalent to a total of four drinks. The official guidelines provided by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism are used popularly by researchers to define a drink.

According to the guidelines, the following can be considered a drink:

  • 5 ounces or what is a ‘shot’ of 80-proof liquor
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 6 ounces of pure alcohol
  • 12 ounces of hard cider or beer (which is 3-7 percent of alcohol)
  • 5 ounces of wine

Men who drink more than two drinks and women who have more than one drink of alcohol are said to have a moderate alcohol intake which is safe. Anything more than this will harm you in the long run. Make sure you have an idea of what you are drinking and not just the glasses as well.

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Teens Who Drink With Their Parents Run Higher Risks of Binge Drinking

It would be illogical to think that drinking a glass with your underage children on a rare occasion would have dramatic consequences, thinks substance abuse researcher Hilde Pape. But when this occurs more frequently, and perhaps for reasons that reveal problematic characteristics among parents and their parental roles, it can be linked to heavy drinking among adolescents under the legal drinking age of 18, according to a new study done by she and her colleagues. (Photo: Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock / NTB scanpix)

Norwegian health authorities advise against adults giving alcohol to minors under the legal age of 18.

However, some research studies have linked underage teenagers being allowed to try a little alcohol with their parents with a lowered risk of the youngsters developing harmful alcohol consumption patterns.

So what is right? According to drug and alcohol researchers Hilde Elisabeth Pape and Elin Bye at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, a problem with some of the research to date, is that some of the questions posed have failed to clarify and distinguish between different kinds of drinking with parents.

“It turned out that the harm-reducing effects of drinking a little with parents were found in a study where youngsters were asked: ‘Was the latest drinking episode together with your parents?’ But this does not catch how frequently such drinking episodes occur,” says Pape to ScienceNordic’s Norwegian partner,

In her work, published in Nordic Studies on Alcohol and drugs, other questions were asked and the responses gave more detailed information.

“How many times in the past 12 months have you been drinking with your parents?”

In the new study by Pape and Bye, 15- and 16-year-olds were asked: “How many times in the past 12 months have you been drinking with your parents (one or both)?” They were also asked “Did you drink with your parents (one or both) the last time you drank alcohol?”

With the first question they wished to find out what effect drinking with parents, when it is more of a common pattern than the exception, can have on teenage drinking habits. They also wished to complete more of the total picture than previous studies have done.

“We could find out whether there is an association with an increased or decreased risk of adolescent drinking differed by asking both questions in the same study.”

Pape says the results were striking.

“Drinking with one’s parent(s) more than a couple times in the past year was associated with a strongly increased risk of severe drunkenness and high consumption. We are not sure why, but parents who do this appear to be less intervening and caring than other parents.”

“In an earlier study on the same subject I found that these parents also stand out by drinking quite a lot themselves.”

The researcher is now more inclined to think that these characteristics among mothers and fathers could represent an explanation for why frequent drinking of alcohol with parents can be associated with risky use of alcohol among adolescents.

A cultural factor should be noted here, in Norway and the Nordic countries, compared to other parts of Europe and the wine-producing countries in particular, young people are generally less likely to drink with their parents at meals as they grow up.

Protective effect might have reflected low consumption

Superficially, when the researchers looked at the answers regarding whom the teenagers had their last alcohol consumption episode with, it could look like drinking with parents could have a good effect.

“Our results show a clear association between having one’s last drinking episode with a father or mother and drinking less. So it would appear to have a protective effect. But the problem is that this gives a misleading picture.”

“Those who drank with parents the last time they drank, probably drink much less often with their friends. And those who drink more often with friends, drink more altogether.”

The research by Pape and Bye might also explain more about how parenting styles can be linked to low alcohol consumption among teenagers.

“When asking the adolescents if their last drinking episode was with parents, we also gain insights indicating that these parents might stand out in a positive manner regarding their parenting style.”

“It’s conceivable that the teenagers who answer that they were with parents the last time they drank alcohol, seldom drink at all, and perhaps they were given a glass of champagne on some very special occasion. Maybe this was the exception that confirms their parents’ restrictive rules against teenage drinking,” suggests Pape.

One limitation of the study was that it only charted the teenagers at a single point in time. The researchers think that it would be preferable with repeated surveys to follow developments over a longer period.

“Then we could see whether those who started to drink together with their parents developed other alcohol habits than those who did not.”

Not harmful to drink together now and then

“The results indicate, in accordance with earlier research, that drinking with one’s teenagers on very rare occasions is not linked with adolescent drunkenness and high consumption.”

“But the issue is how frequently this occurs. It is unlikely that single instances such as having a glass of wine with the teenager would have dramatic consequences.”

“Can you say anything about what impacts the drinking patterns of adolescents?”

“One matter is the general way in which children are raised, how much love and care they get as well as where lines are drawn. Lots of love and reasonable limitations are protective factors against over-consumption.”

“It is also a matter of having restrictive attitudes regarding the teenager’s drinking. You do not necessarily gain by being rigid, but being restrictive is probably smart!”

She points out that one can be a “good” parent and still get children who start to have troubles with alcohol.

“The answer there is yes, the world is not all black and white. Good, caring parents can also have children who run into troubles. But the risk is less. In fact, most parents are probably good enough.”

Also, there is no simple answer regarding the share of risk that parents represent when it comes to certain teenagers starting to consume quantities of alcohol, according to the drug and alcohol researcher.

“Parents also contribute genetically and some youngsters will thus be more vulnerable for problem drinking than others.”

Talk to the teenagers

It might be hard for some to hear, but parents do have a certain influence on what sort of alcohol habits their children develop.

This is pointed out by a psychologist and drug and alcohol researcher at the University of Oslo’s Center for Addiction Research (SERAF), Ayna Johansen, on the web pages of the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

“Parents are prominent role models,” she writes.

A liberal acceptance for use of drugs and alcohol amongst family members makes it easier for adolescents to experiment with such intoxicants, as they gain easier access. Teenage boys are especially vulnerable to their parents’ drinking, and girls are particularly vulnerable to using drugs if their mother uses them, according to her article.

Johansen says it is important for parents to discuss alcohol and drugs with their kids. Teenagers generally have the same intellectual capacity as adults, but they lack knowledge about intoxication. She emphasises that the dialogue should preferably not begin with the parent revealing too much concern and fright.

“For most adolescents, the experiments with drugs come to a stop and they “outgrow” of the behaviour. When encountering youth who have already started using intoxicants, it is important to avoid assuming that the problem is a “severe threat”. Yet the teenagers can still need help in overcoming it. Parents who react in fear and express too much concern, risk scaring and stigmatizing the adolescents. The teenagers will be ashamed and probably conceal future use, which is a behaviour linked to development of substance abuse.”

“Instead of scolding and threatening, the parents should converse with the adolescents as calmly and non-judgementally as possible. A preliminary strategy should be made without the youth present. Parents need to talk about the negative, actual consequences of substance use, as well as establish a family policy for use. This can have a preventive effect. Such discussions should be repeated and made in a context of security, belonging and confirmation. If all that is given is a scolding for bad behaviour the young person experiences this as the only thing their parents see, and the unfavourable behaviour is simply reinforced,” writes Johansen.

Teens drink less than before

One positive development which researchers don’t fully understand is that youth in over 30 Western countries now drink less than youth just 15 years ago.

In 2003 some 84 percent of Norwegian 15- and 16-year-olds answered that they had tasted alcoholic beverages. In 2015, that share had dropped to 57 percent. In Iceland the decline was particularly significant.

Pape is working on a recent research article that attempts to explain why teenage drinking can have decreased so much in so many countries. There is no irrevocable answer to this.

“In parallel with the decrease in teenage drinking there is documentation that parents have become stricter in their attitude about underage consumption. So there are some trends that match here, but we don’t have enough research on it yet.”

“There are probably numerous different reasons why adolescents are drinking less now.”

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Is Alcohol a Problem? Online Tool Helps Assess Risk and Finds Help



The thinking about problem drinking and alcoholism has changed. It’s no longer considered a black-and-white, you have it or you don’t condition.

“We now know that there’s a full spectrum in alcohol use disorder,” says George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohohlism, part of the National Institutes of Health. You can have a mild, moderate or severe problem.

And there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to getting help. There is a wide range of options — from residential “detox” programs to cognitive behavioral therapy, to medications such as naltrexone that can help people drink less, or acamprosate, which can help people stay dry. But many people who might need help don’t know these options exist. It’s a big obstacle to treatment.

“A lot of people struggling with alcohol problems do not know where to turn,” Koob says. “Ninety percent of adults in the U.S. with an alcohol use disorder don’t get any treatment whatsoever.”

That’s a lot of people, given that an estimated 17 million adults have alcohol use disorder.

To help solve this problem, the NIH has launched an online Alcohol Treatment Navigator. It’s a website that helps people explore all the evidence-based options.

The site is user-friendly. A list of questions helps determine the best treatment choices. A brief survey helps to determine the range or severity of a problem. The site also connects people to directories of providers. You can type in your ZIP code to find options in your community.

For instance, there’s a link to a directory of licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and other therapists maintained by Psychology Today. There’s also a directory of treatment programs, including residential rehab and outpatient options, which is maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency. The NIH does not endorse any providers, it’s simply connecting people to the options. The navigator site also has information about costs and insurance.

Research suggests that most people with an alcohol problem can benefit from treatment. According to the NIAAA, about one-third of people who get treatment for an alcohol use disorder are better one year after treatment. “Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems,” according to this NIAAA explainer.

The new navigator site comes at a time when drinking is on the rise among women, minorities and older adults in the U.S. Dietary guidelines recommend that women should not drink more than one drink per day, and men should not exceed two drinks per day. But a recent study estimates that nearly 32 million adults in the U.S. drink at least occasionally at dangerously high levels.

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‘Dry 9’ campaign urges Albertans to support alcohol-free pregnancies


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With the holiday season comes festivities and parties, which can make avoiding alcohol a challenge for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

It can be difficult for pregnant women who are constantly being told to “just take a sip,” or “half a glass is fine,” and that “one or two won’t hurt,” however the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is out with a reminder that no amount of alcohol is proven to be safe.

READ MORE: ‘Their life is tough’ mom of 2 kids with FASD shares their struggles

The AGLC launched its Dry 9 movementon Tuesday, to create greater awareness of the effects of alcohol and pregnancy.

It’s not exactly news that the two don’t mix but the AGLC says the prevailing attitude that “a little bit is OK” and “moderation is the best thing” is a reminder that the discussion still needs to take place.

“With so many differing views; some that are conflicting, Dry 9 represents an exciting opportunity to provide information, resources and support for those looking to be alcohol-free to assist them in ensuring a healthy pregnancy,” Alain Maisonneuve, AGLC president and CEO, said.

READ MORE: Should women drink alcohol when they’re breastfeeding?

“Whether it’s the holiday season or any time of year, we want to encourage people and their support networks to sign up for a Dry 9 and let others know about their healthy choice.”

Alcohol is a proven to cause birth defects, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and there is no known safe amount.

The AGLC released three Dry 9 promotional videos, inducing one aimed at partners of women who are pregnant or trying to become so.

Newlyweds Jesse and Amber Kupina (left) were two of the speakers at the Dry 9 launch Tuesday morning at Central Social Hall in downtown Edmonton. December 5, 2017.

Newlyweds Jesse and Amber Kupina (left) were two of the speakers at the Dry 9 launch Tuesday morning at Central Social Hall in downtown Edmonton. December 5, 2017.

Cliff Harris, Global News

Newlyweds Jesse and Amber Kupina are planning to start a family and were two of the speakers at the Dry 9 launch Tuesday morning.

Kupina owns The Ranch Roadhouse country nightclub and Central Social Hall bar and restaurant, where the campaign was launched. He is constantly surrounded by opportunities to drink, but plans to give up alcohol to support his wife.

“I truly believe that, one, even though she’s having the baby, we’re having the baby — so I just equate it to supporting my partner. If she was trying to do a cleanse or trying to eat less pizza, I probably wouldn’t bring home pizza every day,” the bar owner said Tuesday morning.

READ MORE: New mom’s honest post about motherhood strikes a chord with parents

“We just want to have the healthiest baby possible,” his wife Amber said. “I went to school studying nutrition, so it’s really important to me — the impact that even the food that we eat.

“So it’s not really a hard question: we’re a team, so if we’re going to have a family together, we want to do the whole thing together.”

Kupina doesn’t look at giving up booze as a sacrifice, but rather, a chance to do something different.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever – since I was 18 – had nine months off of drinking,” he admitted. Kupina said while he enjoys food and alcohol, he is also into exercise and physical fitness.

“I think this is a really good opportunity for me as well to, selfishly, to get that extra level of health for those nine months,” he said.

The other two videos released by the AGLC were aimed at friends of pregnant women and older generations.

“It’s very exciting because she can grow that little zygote to its full potential. And that’s way more exciting than a wine night, or ladies night, or a bachelorette party — you should still invite her to those, of course. Just don’t ask her to drink any booze,” an actor says in one of the promo videos.

Another video is aimed at older generations who claim back in their day, a lot of women drank while pregnant and their kids turned out fine.

To encourage Albertans to “do a Dry 9,” the AGLC is offering incentives to those who sign up online, including:

  • a free Dry 9 t-shirt (for the first 500 pregnant women that register)
  • monthly tips on how to handle situations with alcohol when pregnant and various facts on what stages of baby development
  • mocktail of the month recipes
  • Dry 9 videos to send to family, friends and spouses to get them to support you while you do your Dry 9
  • an interactive website ( which in the future will feature an online community forum to allow Dry 9 participants to share tips, ideas and support.

Dry January with CANFasd


Join the CanFASD team for Dry January! Abstaining from drinking alcohol for a month has a number of health benefits and serves as a detox after the holidays! If you’re looking for some alcohol-free alternatives for Dry January, check out our mocktail guide!

Click to download mocktail guide: CanFASD-Mocktail-Guide-Dec-1-30

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Yukon Halts Warning Labels on Liquor Labels Over Industry Concerns


WHITEHORSE — Concerns from national alcohol companies have prompted the Yukon Liquor Corp., to stop putting warning labels about the risk of cancer on all bottles and cans sold in the Whitehorse liquor store, at least for now.

The corporation was the first in Canada to roll out new labels in the store in November as part of the federally funded Northern Territories Alcohol Study. The warning labels make a link between alcohol use and cancer risk and encourages moderate drinking.

“There’s a large range of concerns,” liquor corporation spokeswoman Patch Groenewegen said about the alcohol industry’s response.

They centre around “legislative authority, label placement and trademark infringement, defamation and damages related to messages on labels affixed to brand-owner products without consent,” she said.

Groenewegen declined to identify the national brand owners that have approached the corporation with concerns.

“We’ve stopped applying labels to any new products coming into the store,” she said about a decision that was made this week.

Labels will remain on bottles and cans that are already on the shelves.

The liquor corporation is working with the national brand owners and facilitators of the Northern Territories Alcohol Study to determine next steps, Groenewegen said.

The label phase of the study was intended to run for eight months, followed by a survey to assess the impact.

Concerns have also been raised at the local level about the study’s impact on long-standing labels that read: “Warning, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects.”

The liquor corporation has been attaching these labels to bottles and cans since 1991 but stopped doing so in the Whitehorse store in November when the study involving the new labels was launched.

Wenda Bradley, executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon, said she believed that the new labels would accompany, rather than replace, the drinking-while-pregnant warning labels.

When Bradley realized that was not the case, she approached the liquor corporation and said officials were open to discussion.

“(Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) needs to be a focus,” she said. “It’s a lifespan disability.”

Groenewegen said the liquor corporation is working with the society as it determines the future of the study involving the new labels.

“As we continue these discussions, we’re also going to make sure we include (the society’s) priorities … and what to do with labels in general,” she said.

The drinking-while-pregnant warning labels continue to be applied to alcohol containers at the five other liquor corporation stores across Yukon.

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Wine for Your Health: Truth and Myth



Cutting through the Clutter about Heart Health

The following outline formed a webinar that NCADD presented in August 2015 as part of Cigna’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Series. The presentation focused on the impacts of wine as it relates to cancer and cardiac health, weighing out the benefits and the risks of drinking wine. Concrete suggestions were offered for making better overall health decisions.

Presenters were:

  • Julia M. Dostal, PhD
    Executive Director, LEAF Council on Alcoholism & Addictions and NCADD-National Board Member
  • Robert Pezzolesi, MPH
    Founding Director, New York Alcohol Policy Alliance

Wine and heart health

Studies have shown that moderate consumption of wine may have cardiac benefits.

  • Raises HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Reduces the formation of blood clots
  • Helps prevent artery damage caused by LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Produces changes in blood pressure

There are some important limitations to consider:

  • Health benefits do not seem to apply to African Americans and some other racial/ethnic groups
  • No health benefits for people under 40 years of age
  • Drinking pattern is important – cardio-protective effect disappears when light to moderate drinking is mixed with irregular, binge-drinking occasions
  • Heavy drinking can lead to serious cardiac problems, including cardiomyopathy

Resveratrol Claims

  • The key ingredient in wine research is resveratrol, a unique plant nutrient (also known as a phytonutrient)
  • Resveratrol acts as a plant estrogen in the body (much like soy products)

Acts as an antioxidant in the body — reported to have anti-inflammatory properties and improve circulation

Resveratrol Research is now Questioned

  • Conducted on mice & rats
  • Studied at doses 100 to 1000 times more than in a serving of wine.
  • Non-alcoholic red wine appears to have as much resveratrol as its alcohol-containing counterpart
  • Does not have to be in a fermented beverage to act as an antioxidant
  • Some key resveratrol research was shown to be fraudulent

Sources of Resveratrol

  • Grapes
  • Grape Juice
  • Peanut Butter
  • Blueberries
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Cranberries

The wine drinker’s conundrum: what is “moderation?”

Moderation for Health

  • Two drinks or less per day for men – 10 ounces of wine
  • One drink or less per day for women – 5 ounces of wine

The greatest cardiovascular benefit of drinking wine for women appears to occur at:

  • 1/3 of a serving of wine (about 1.6 oz) per day
  • Many liver specialists are recommending “days off” from drinking – even at light/moderate levels

Wine: not an “equal opportunity” beverage

  • All alcohol (ethanol) impacts women differently than men
  • Not just a body mass issue
  • Hormone issue
  • Body fat issue

A woman’s increased risk of alcohol-related issues occurs at anything above one drink

Balancing the Risks for Women

  • Alcohol has a strong link to breast cancer and some other cancers
  • There are 20,000 alcohol-related cancer deaths in the US per year
  • 60% of alcohol-related cancer deaths for women are breast cancer deaths (about 6,000)*
  • 30% of alcohol-related breast cancers occurred in women drinking less than 1.5 servings
    per day* **

* Harvard School of Public Health, 2013

** “Saving up” all of your drinks for a special event increases risk

Why the Impact on Women?

  • Ethanol blocks the absorption of folate. Folate is protective against breast cancer.
  • Ethanol is a teratogen, but only in women.
  • Finally, ethanol is a Group A carcinogen – and because women tend to absorb alcohol more slowly, it stays in the body longer.

“Per glass of wine, ethanol is more than 100,000 times more potent than resveratrol”

Wine Consumption Recommendations for Women

  5 oz of wine (or less) per day is considered low-risk if you:

Commercial information about cancer-preventive or cancer-protective effects of resveratrol in wine is misleading and must be prohibited.” [Lachenmeier, 2014, p. 51]

  • Are not pregnant (or do not plan to become pregnant)
  • Don’t have an addiction or a family history of addiction
  • Are at very low risk for cancers of the breast, head/neck, liver, and colorectum
  • Have not had a gastric bypass
  • Do not have any other conflicting health conditions or take any conflicting medications
  • Currently drink alcohol

 Any amount of wine would considered high-risk if you:

  • Are pregnant or of child-bearing age (and sexually active)
  • Have an addiction or are in recovery
  • Have a family history of addiction
  • Have risk factors for – or a family history of – cancers of the breast, head/neck, liver, and colorectum
  • Have a gastric bypass
  • Have other conflicting health conditions or take any conflicting medications

 Wine Consumption & Men’s Health

While men have a greater capacity for alcohol metabolism, there are some special risks:

  • Some effects on male reproductive system, especially at heavier drinking levels
  • “Accumulating” (but not definitive) evidence that alcohol may be risk factor for prostate cancer
  • Risk for cirrhosis of the liver with daily drinking
  • Greater risks for alcohol-related suicide

As with women, drinking is riskier if you:

The best advice from our friends at WHO/Europe and the Association of European Cancer Leagues: “Less is Better”

  • Have an addiction or are in recovery or have a family history of addiction
  • Have risk factors for – or a family history of – cancers of the breast, head/neck, liver, and colorectum
  • Have a gastric bypass
  • Have other conflicting health conditions or take any conflicting medications

All drinking confers some risk For Women & Men – “Less is Better” Recommended daily limits should NOT be interpreted as a “safe” baseline from which to range upward

The key may not be in the wine at all

Research shows that most people who drink in true moderation have other protective health indicators (“confounders”):

  • More likely to be active regularly
  • More likely to eat a healthier diet
  • More likely to have established social networks
  • More likely to engage in preventive healthcare

Thus, many epidemiologists are beginning to question the unqualified assertion that wine and other alcohol consumption is “heart healthy.” And… of course: If you do not currently drink alcohol, there is no health benefit to starting.

Heart-healthy foods (with and without resveratrol) are your friends

  • grapes
  • peanuts
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • mulberries
  • grape juice
  • peanut butter
  • dark chocolate
  • pistachios
  • muscadines

Heart-healthy activities are your friends:

  • healthy weight
  • exercise
  • regular checkups
  • healthy diet

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FASD in Alberta

Alberta FASD

The Alberta government is committed to reducing the incidence of FASD and ensuring individuals living with FASD and their caregivers get the critical support they need.

A unique made-in-Alberta plan on FASD focuses on developing and delivering community-based solutions, making it easier for people affected by FASD to get the help they need, at any point during their life.

FASD-related initiatives across Alberta help build awareness, promote prevention, increase access to FASD assessment and diagnosis clinics, conduct new research, and provide support for individuals living with FASD and their caregivers.

By working together, we will help Albertans already affected by FASD and lower the number of babies born with the disorder.

The statistics are startling

Among Alberta women 18 to 44 years of age, 80% reported drinking within the past 12 months. Given that 40% of pregnancies are reported to be unplanned, a significant number of unborn babies are at a high risk of prenatal exposure to alcohol. A recent survey found that of almost 90% of Albertans who were aware of FASD, 40% reported knowing someone with FASD or someone caring for an individual with FASD.

There is no safe time or safe amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant or when planning to become pregnant.

Yet 9% of Alberta women reported drinking during their last pregnancy. Some may be surprised the percentage is markedly higher (41%) for women in the highest income group.

The personal, social and economic impacts of FASD are profound

While there are no statistics on the prevalence of FASD in Canada or Alberta, research estimates that 9 in every 1,000 babies are born with FASD. In Alberta, this means that there are more than 46,000 Albertans with FASD, and an estimated 500 babies are born with the disorder every year.

It is estimated that the annual total cost of FASD in Alberta is about $927.5 million, which includes the cost of health, social, educational, and correctional services, as well as productivity losses and other costs.

For each prevented case of FASD, Albertans save about $800,000, which is the extra cost of FASD when compared to how much it costs to support the average Albertan during their lifetime.

Even more important are the personal impacts on individuals, families and caregivers and loss of potential. This is why the Alberta government is committed to reducing the incidence of FASD and ensuring individuals living with FASD and their caregivers get the critical support they need.

Taking action on FASD

Alberta’s FASD 10-Year Strategic Plan focuses on developing and delivering community-based solutions, making it easier for people affected by FASD to get the help they need, at any point during their life. FASD-related initiatives across Alberta help build awareness, promote prevention, increase access to FASD assessment and diagnosis clinics, conduct new research, and provide support for individuals living with FASD and their caregivers.

The Plan has received annual funding of $16.5 million since 2008/09, supporting 12 FASD Service Networks and ministry-specific FASD initiatives. Preventing FASD in 10 newborns a year pays for the total current annual amount spent by the networks in providing prevention, diagnosis and support services.