Alcohol Abuse: How Useful Are Fingernails for Monitoring Long-term Exposure?

USDTL Research

Alcohol Abuse: How Useful Are Fingernails for Monitoring Long-term Exposure?

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Clinical and Forensic Toxicology News. 2013, June, 6-7.

J. Jones.

Alcohol abuse remains a significant public health issue worldwide, with rates of alcohol use disorder, risky drinking, maternal drinking, and underage drinking contining to rise (1). Alcohol abuse contributes to a number of public health issues, such as traffic accidents, liver disease, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer (2). Drinking during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum of disorders, which is the leading cause of mental retardation in the U.S. and the only cause that is completely preventable (3). Alcohol use disorder affects an estimated 18 million Americans, compared with 4.2 million people for other drug use disorders (4). Because of this impact, healthcare professionals need objective tools to identify and monitor patients who have issues with excessive alcohol consumption.

1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. Alcohol Alert 2006;70:1–5.
2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH Publication No. 10-7604. Beyond hangovers: understanding alcohol’s impact on your health. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.pdf (Accessed May 2013).
3. Bailey B, Sokol R. Pregnancy and alcohol use: evidence and recommendations for prenatal care.
Clin Obstet Gynecol 2008;51:436–44.
4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Alcohol use disorders surpass drug use disorders. NIAAA Spectrum 2009;1:9.



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