Problem drinking is rising among older Americans. A study in JAMA Psychiatry compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, each time with about 40,000 adults. About 55 percent of participants over 65 said they had imbibed in the past year, a 22 percent increase over the two periods. More troubling, the proportion of older adults engaged in “high-risk drinking” jumped 65 percent, to 3.8 percent. The researchers’ definition: for a man, downing five or more standard drinks in a day at least weekly during the past year; for a woman, four drinks in a day.

Weight loss could be linked to gut bacteria

Whether a diet works might depend on which bacteria are in your gut. Danish researchers analyzed the ratio of two gut bacteria, Prevotella and Bacteroides, in 62 overweight people. For 26 weeks, they randomly assigned them to a low-fat diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables and whole grains or a diet comparable to that of the average Dane. Those on the high-fiber diet with a high Prevotella to Bacteroides ratio lost an average of 10.9 pounds of body fat, 3½ pounds more than those on the diet with a low ratio. Those on the regular diet with a high Prevotella ratio lost 4 pounds, compared with 5½ pounds for those with a low Prevotella ratio, a statistically insignificant difference.

FDA warns against mixing medications

The Food and Drug Administration has issued new warnings about the dangers of combining medication for opioid addiction with antidepressants and other drugs that also slow breathing and brain activity. The FDA warns that mixing such drugs can cause difficulty breathing, coma or death and should be done with caution. Many patients fighting opioid addiction by taking methadone or buprenorphine also take other prescription drugs that slow action of the central nervous system.

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