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2/5 of Americans Experienced Increased Stress Intolerance, Epigenome Editing Decreases Alcohol Seeking in Rats, and Rise In Cannabis Vaping in Adolescents
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
More than two in five Americans are more sensitive to stress than before the pandemic
LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, released its monthly Mental Health Index™ that showed 42% of Americans feeling more sensitive to stress have a mental health score more than 10 points below the national average. Additionally, 44% of American employees have noticed their colleagues are more sensitive to stress than pre-pandemic.
Many Americans are expressing more stress sensitivity concerns about themselves and their colleagues, compared to pre-pandemic levels:
44% of working Americans have noticed their colleagues are more sensitive to stress, with 42% indicating the same for themselves and 21% unsure.
Respondents younger than 40 are 80% more likely to feel more sensitive to stress than pre-pandemic.
61% of Americans struggling with stress or their mental health are likely to reach out for professional help, compared to 24% who are unsure.
Americans with a reduced salary or fewer hours are 60% more likely to feel sensitive to stress compared to before the pandemic.
Global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen said, “Destigmatizing mental health issues in the workplace can help reduce the strain many American employees are feeling. As more Americans report their willingness to seek professional mental health support when they need it, it is important employers support this behavior by equipping the workplace with accessible well-being resources that help employees cope with all the changes they have encountered, and will continue to encounter, as we emerge from pandemic-related restrictions.”
Epigenome Editing Decreases Alcohol Seeking and Anxiety in Rats
A Science Advances study found that editing epigenetic markers on a noncoding, regulatory region of the genome diminished both alcohol-seeking and anxious behaviors in rats exposed to binge drinking early in life. While the technology is far from being able to treat alcohol use disorder in people, the University of Illinois at Chicago researchers say the discovery could pave the way for future therapies.
Studies have found that binge drinking in adolescence can increase the likelihood of alcohol addiction, anxiety, depression, and a host of other debilitating mental health issues in adulthood. Researchers have also linked chronic alcohol exposure during brain development to profound, long-term epigenetic changes in the brain, providing a possible mechanistic explanation for lasting behavioral effects of early alcohol abuse.
In one experiment, the researchers exposed some rats to alcohol intermittently from the 27th to 41st days of their lives (ages that roughly correspond to 10- to 18-year-old humans). Typically, rats with this degree of alcohol exposure display increased alcohol use in adulthood. After a period of abstinence, the study authors delivered CRISPR gene editing therapy via a viral vector to the rats’ amygdalas. Finally, they tested the rats, as well as age-matched controls, that weren’t exposed to alcohol for alcohol dependence by measuring how often rats drank alcohol instead of water when given the choice. They also tested the rats’ anxiety levels.
After treatment, the researchers observed that Arc expression levels returned to pre-alcohol exposure baselines. But even more strikingly, says Pandey, the adult rats showed less anxiety-like behavior and their alcohol consumption decreased.
Major uptick reported in cannabis vaping for all adolescents
Cannabis vaping is increasing as the most popular method of cannabis delivery among all adolescents in the U.S., as is the frequency of cannabis vaping, according to research at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. The study found that the frequency of vaping cannabis among adolescents from all demographic groups is reported at six or more times per month, and rising faster than occasional use. Those who vape and smoke nicotine are over 40 times more likely to also vape and smoke cannabis.
“Heavy and frequent use of cannabis is increasing among U.S. adolescents, and vape systems for products for both cannabis and nicotine are growing in number so understanding the prevalence and patterns of frequent cannabis vaping is important public health information for prevention,” said Katherine Keyes, PhD, professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School. “Given rising concerns about cannabis vaping in terms of safety and potential for transition to cannabis use disorder, especially at frequent levels of use, these results indicate a necessity for public health intervention and increased regulation.”
Prevalence increased across grades, with the largest burden among high school seniors for whom past-30-day prevalence almost tripled from 5% (2017) to 14% (2019). The one-year increase in this grade from 2018 to 2019 (7.5% to 14%) is the second largest one-year increase in any type of substance use prevalence ever tracked by Monitoring the Future.
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