April 13, 2012
By: J. D. Heyes
You already know that the McLarge burger you’re stuffing in your face isn’t healthy for you. What you may not know, however, is that all that fast food is doing more than just expanding your waistline – it could be giving you a serious case of depression as well.
A study of some 8,964 people found that eating junk and fast food has a negative effect on mental health.
Some of our American favorites – burgers, pizza, hot dogs – are on the list of fast or non-nutritional foods that contribute to a darker mood. In fact, the study found that people who eat those foods often were 51 percent more likely to become depressed, as evidenced by http://www.webmd.com, among other signs and symptoms.
Even small quantities are bad for you
The study also found that those most likely to over-indulge in such unhealthy fare were single, less physically active, smokers and those who worked more than 45 hours per week.
November 11, 2011
By John Stossel
“Nobody says that smoking is good for you. But it seems the FDA is at it again – protecting the profits of large industries – this time the tobacco giants. Instead of realizing that E-Cigarettes might help people quit, the FDA is more concerned over the possibility that they may contain toxic ingredients. Um, aren’t there toxic ingredients in regular cigarettes to be more concerned about? Plus, the real culprit isn’t the tobacco, it’s the chemicals they spray on the plant that makes people so addictive and sick.” –KTRN
In The New York Times this week, John Tierney identifies a new way government regulation kills.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have been shown to be unusually successful in helping smokers quit. The cigarette substitutes are basically nicontine-delivery devices, and the Royal College of Physicians found:
nicotine itself is not especially hazardous, and that if nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved.
A new study from Italy found that after 24 weeks half of all smokers using the electronic cigarettes reduced their consumption of cigarettes by 50 percent. A quarter gave up smoking altogether.
E-cigarettes may pose some risk, but after reviewing the scientific literature, the Harm Reduction Journal concluded that they are much safer:
October 4, 2011
USA Today. Your Life
A prolonged sore throat once was considered a cancer worry mainly for smokers and drinkers. Today there’s another risk: A sexually transmitted virus is fueling a rise in oral cancer.
The HPV virus is best known for causing cervical cancer. But it can cause cancer in the upper throat, too, and a new study says HPV-positive tumors now account for a majority of these cases of what is called oropharyngeal cancer.
If that trend continues, that type of oral cancer will become the nation’s main HPV-related cancer within the decade, surpassing cervical cancer, researchers from Ohio State University and the National Cancer Institute report Monday.
“There is an urgency to try to figure out how to prevent this,” says Dr. Amy Chen of the American Cancer Society and Emory University, who wasn’t part of the new research.
While women sometimes get oral cancer caused by the HPV, the risk is greatest and rising among men, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. No one knows why, but it begs the question of whether the vaccine given to girls and young women to protect against cervical cancer also might protect against oral HPV.
HPV vaccination is approved for boys to prevent genital warts and anal cancer, additional problems caused by human papillomavirus. But protection against oral HPV hasn’t been studied in either gender, says Dr. Maura Gillison, a head-and-neck cancer specialist at Ohio State and senior author of the new research. That’s important, because it’s possible to have HPV in one part of the body but not the other, she says.
A spokeswoman for Merck & Co., maker of the HPV vaccine Gardasil, said the company has no plans for an oral cancer study.
Monday’s research was funded by the NCI and Ohio State. Gillison has been a consultant to Merck.
There are nearly 10,000 new cases of oropharyngeal cancer a year, and overall incidence has risen by 28 percent since 1988 even as other types of head-and-neck cancer have been declining.
Tobacco and alcohol have long been the main causes of these tumors, which occur in the tonsils, base of the tongue and upper throat. But over the past few years, studies have shown HPV is playing a role in that rise, probably due to an increase in oral sex even as tobacco use was dropping.
The new study took a closer look, tracking HPV over time by directly testing tumor tissue from 271 patients that had been stored in cancer registries in Hawaii, Iowa and Los Angeles. The proportion that were HPV-positive rose from just 16 percent in the late 1980s to nearly 73 percent by the early 2000s.
Translate that to the overall population, and the researchers concluded that incidence rates of the HPV-positive tumors more than tripled while HPV-negative tumors dropped by half.
Oral cancer has always been a bigger threat to men than women. Gillison says women account for only about 1 in 4 cases, and their incidence is holding steady while men’s is rising. That raises questions about gender differences in sexual behavior or whether oral HPV infection is likely to linger longer in men.
While HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, studies show women’s bodies usually clear the virus from the cervix quickly; only an infection that persists for years is a cancer risk. It’s not known if oral HPV acts similarly or even is as common.
Nor is it clear if oral sex is the only way it’s transmitted, cautions Dr. Gregory Masters of the American Society for Clinical Oncology, an oncologist at Delaware’s Helen Graham Cancer Center.
Regardless, just over 11,000 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year, a number that has been dropping steadily thanks to better Pap smears. (It’s too soon to know what difference vaccination will make.) Gillison’s team calculated that annual cases of cervical cancer will drop to 7,700 by 2020 — compared with about 8,700 cases of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer by then, about 7,400 of them in men.
The cancer society’s Chen urged caution about those numbers, saying more data is needed. But she says two things are clear: First, patients with HPV-linked oral tumors have better survival odds than those with other types of this cancer, possibly because they tend to be younger. Studies are beginning to test if they can scale back today’s treatment and thus suffer fewer long-term side effects such as problems with speech and swallowing.
And “just because you’re not a smoker or drinker doesn’t mean you can’t get throat cancer,” Chen says — so get checked for symptoms like a throat that’s sore for longer than two weeks.
March 15th, 2011
By: Catherine Donaldson-Evans
Smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes than those who aren’t around smoke at all, according to new research. And the more you breathe it in, the greater the risk.
Experts say the findings about secondhand smoke’s potential role in the risk of diabetes were unexpected.
Lead researcher Dr. John P. Forman of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and his team studied 1982 data from questionnaires given to more than 100,000 women. The respondents were nurses who were part of a larger national survey that stretched over several decades.
They were asked how much time they spent around cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke, Reuters said.
Over the course of the following 24 years, about 1 in 18 of the participants were told they had type 2 diabetes. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 1 in 13 in the United States live with the disease.
The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, showed that the nurses who smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day had the highest risk of getting diabetes. About 30 of the heavy smokers were diagnosed with the disease each year for every 10,000 women in the study. About 25 nonsmokers in 10,000 who were frequently around secondhand smoke got type 2 diabetes, according to the research.
Surprisingly, however, the risks of developing the disease were higher for former smokers and women exposed to secondhand smoke, with about 39 in 10,000 getting diabetes every year.
After the researchers accounted for other potential contributing factors, including age, weight and family history, they saw that the ex-smokers had a 12 percent higher chance of getting diabetes than the participants who routinely breathed in secondhand smoke.
It wasn’t clear why a link emerged between type 2 diabetes and smoking, but inflammation in the cardiovascular system and cells is thought to play a part.
Dr. Gerald Bernstein, the director of the Diabetes Management Program at the Friedman Diabetes Institute in New York, said the findings make sense.
“Everything we do that is not good for you creates an inflammatory reaction of some kind,” Bernstein told AOL Health. “Among them is cigarette smoke.”
But, he said, the number of people at risk for type 2 diabetes is “enormous” to begin with.
“Because so many people are at risk for type 2 diabetes, the probability that a smoker could be next to somebody with that risk could be high,” Bernstein said. “It will have an impact on the vascular system. Along with that, it might have an impact on the cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced.”
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to process sugar, leading to potentially deadly complications and requiring sufferers to get regular insulin injections. It generally crops up in adulthood and can sometimes be managed with diet and exercise changes.
Dr. David Nathan, the head of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the research doesn’t mean smokers should keep up the habit, nor does it mean that women are more susceptible to diabetes than men if they’re around cigarette smoke.
“There’s no a priori reason to think that this wouldn’t apply to men as well,” he told Reuters.
The observational, retrospective study didn’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the disease and smoking, but simply showed that the two seem to be associated.
But that doesn’t take away from the study, Bernstein said.
“When you look at people with type 2 diabetes, you will see inflammatory events occurring around the beta cells. [Smoking] could just aggravate that,” he told AOL Health. “That’s conjecture because it’s not proven … but it’s real. And it’s not surprising.”
November 22nd, 2010
Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables every day can slash the risk of developing lung cancer by a quarter, a study revealed yesterday.
Smokers in particular can cut their risk but the variety they eat is just as important as the quantity.
Those eating eight or more different types of fruit and veg can reduce their chances of developing epidermoid carcinoma of the lung by up to 23 per cent.
At least eight types a day is key and more beneficial than eating only four a day, says the study compiled by 10 leading cancer research centres across Europe.
Researchers believe it may be possible to cut the risk by a further four per cent for each new kind of fruit or veg added to the daily diet.
Maria Jose Sanchez Perez, the Spanish co-author of the study, said: “Aside from the amount consumed, a varied diet reduces the risk of developing this cancer – above all in smokers.”
June 29, 2010
By: S.L Baker
Lung cancer, which usually develops in the cells lining air passages, will be diagnosed in about 222,520 Americans this year, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In addition, the NCI says nearly half that many people — about 157,300 — will die from the disease in 2010.
Although lung cancer is notoriously difficult to treat successfully, French scientists have discovered several natural substances that offer substantial protection from the malignancy. In a huge study of almost 400,000 participants, those who had higher blood levels of vitamin B6 and the essential amino acid methionine (found in many forms of protein) had the lowest risk of lung cancer — even those who were former or current smokers.
For the study, which was just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Paul Brennan, Ph.D., of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, and colleagues documented B vitamins and methionine levels based on serum samples from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study. In all, they investigated 385,747 research subjects from 10 European countries. By 2006, 899 had been diagnosed with lung cancer; they were compared to 1,770 control participants and all were individually matched by country, sex, date of birth, and date of blood collection.
The results of the researchers’ analysis revealed a dramatically lower risk for lung cancer among participants with the highest blood levels of B6 and methionine. In addition, a moderately lower risk for lung cancer in former and current smokers was observed in those with higher serum levels of folate.
“Similar and consistent decreases in risk were observed in never, former, and current smokers, indicating that results were not due to confounding (factors that can influence outcomes) by smoking. The magnitude of risk was also constant with increasing length of follow-up, indicating that the associations were not explained by preclinical disease,” the researchers stated in their JAMA article.
50 percent reduction in lung cancer
“Our results suggest that above-median serum measures of both B6 and methionine, assessed on average five years prior to disease onset, are associated with a reduction of at least 50 percent on the risk of developing lung cancer. An additional association for serum levels of folate was present, that when combined with B6 and methionine, was associated with a two-thirds lower risk of lung cancer,” the scientists wrote.
So how could these natural substances keep lung cancer at bay? The key may be found in previous research which has shown that B vitamin deficiencies likely increase the probability of DNA damage and subsequent gene mutations. “Given their involvement in maintaining DNA integrity and gene expression, these nutrients have a potentially important role in inhibiting cancer development, and offer the possibility of modifying cancer risk through dietary changes,” the authors concluded. They also pointed out that B vitamin deficiencies are known to be high in many western populations.
April 8, 2010
By: JoAnne Allen
Smoking may increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in people who have other risk factors for the neurological disorder, researchers said on Wednesday.
The findings suggest that smokers who have high levels of a protein that protects against the Epstein-Barr virus, a common herpes virus, were twice as likely as nonsmokers to get multiple sclerosis (MS), the researchers wrote in the online edition of the journal Neurology.
Previous studies have suggested that smoking and the virus-fighting protein were independent risk factors and this research looked at how they may be associated with each other, Claire Simon of Harvard University said in a telephone interview.
“We found that that association was stronger in people who reported smoking compared with people who did not report smoking,” Simon said.
The study found no association between smoking and a gene related to the immune system gene called HLA-DR15, which is thought to be another risk factor for MS, she said.
Studying the potential risk factors simultaneously might provide clues about why some people get MS and others do not, Simon said.
MS is an incurable condition that affects more than 1 million people worldwide. The disease can cause mild symptoms in some people and permanent disability in others. Symptoms may include numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, partial or complete loss of vision, tingling or pain, electric-shock sensation with certain head movements, tremors and an unsteady gait.
Simon and colleagues analyzed information from 442 people with MS and 865 without the disease. All were participants in either the U.S.-based Nurses’ Health Study, the Tasmanian MS Study and the Swedish MS Study.
The team determined whether participants had either of the potential factors and looked at the participants’ smoking history. The researchers said they found a consistent association between MS, smoking and the body’s immune response to the Epstein-Barr virus across the three distinct, geographic regions.
April 8, 2010
By: Maggie Fox
Researchers have identified a group of genes that are especially active in lung cancer patients — even in healthy tissue — and said they may be used to predict which smokers will eventually develop lung cancer.
And, they said, a natural supplement derived from food that is being tested to prevent lung cancer appears to halt the precancerous changes.
“Even in normal cells or premalignant cells prior to cancer development we see this pathway being turned on,” said Andrea Bild of the University of Utah, who worked on the study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The main gene is called PI3K and it affects a pathway of other genes, Bild, Avrum Spira of Boston University and colleagues reported. And it can be found in the windpipes of smokers, meaning they do not need more dangerous and uncomfortable lung tests.
“These cells are like a canary in the coal mine,” Spira said in a telephone interview. “Even though lung cancer develops deep down in your lungs when you smoke, these cells can tell you whether you are on the way to developing lung cancer. It is sort of a window into the lung.”
Cigarette smoke causes 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer, which kills 1.2 million people a year globally.
But only about 10 percent of smokers ever develop lung cancer, although they often die of other causes such as heart disease, stroke or emphysema.
Spira and Bild put together results from two ongoing trials of smokers.
“The patients walk in the door and they have something wrong with them — we don’t know what. Maybe they have lung cancer, maybe they have something else,” Bild said in a telephone interview.
Lung cancer is so deadly precisely because it causes vague symptoms. Most patients are not diagnosed until it has spread and can no longer be treated.
The researchers used a brush to collect cells from the windpipes of the smokers. They put these on a gene chip or microarray to see which genes were active in the cells.
“We found this certain pathway, PI3K, was turned on in patients that had lung cancer as opposed to patients that had other problems,” Bild said.
PI3K had long been suspected in lung cancer. But another experiment got the researchers more excited.
These were patients with precancerous lesions in their lungs called dysplasia. PI3K was also active in their lesions.
And the second group was taking the natural supplement, myo-inositol, to try to prevent lung cancer. In the patients whose lesions shrank after taking the supplement, PI3K also became less active, the researchers found.
“Together it gives us the story of the importance of this pathway,” Bild added. “Whether it is going to save millions of people, who knows?”
Spira said he is working with Boston-based Allegro Diagnostics, which is halfway through a 60-patient clinical trial of the test.
The researchers have patented their findings through the universities but Bild said myo-inositol supplements are cheap and freely available.
Myo-inositol is also found in fruits, beans, grains and nuts, although Bild said the finding does not necessarily explain why people who eat more of these foods have a lower risk of cancer in general.
April 5, 2010
By Nick Collins
Smokers have lower IQs than those who abstain, with intelligence decreasing the more one smokes, researchers have found.
A study of 18 to 21-year-old men revealed that the IQs of smokers averaged 94 – seven points lower than non-smokers on 101.
IQ scores in a healthy population of young men fall between 84 and 116, but those who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day averaged just 90 between them.
Researchers in Israel took data from more than 20,000 healthy men before, during and after they spent time in the Israeli military.
About 28 per cent of their sample smoked one or more cigarettes a day, three per cent considered themselves ex-smokers, and 68 per cent said they never smoked.
Professor Mark Weiser, of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychiatry, said: “In the health profession, we’ve generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighbourhoods, or who’ve been given less education at good schools.
“But because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we’ve been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor.”
The study also measured effects in twin brothers – and in the case where one twin smoked, the non-smoking twin registered a higher IQ on average.
Prof Weiser said: “People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health.
“People with lower IQs are not only prone to addictions such as smoking. These same people are more likely to have obesity, nutrition and narcotics issues.
“Our study may help parents and health professionals help at-risk young people make better choices.”
March 31, 2010
An eastern Pennsylvania hospital says it plans to stop hiring new employees who are smokers.
St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network in Bethlehem says it hopes to improve the health of its 7,000 employees and reduce health costs.
Beginning May 1, all prospective employees will be screened for nicotine and will be ineligible for a job if they test positive. Anyone rejected can take the test again in six months and be considered for employment. Current employees will not be affected.
“We decided as an organization the right thing to do for us is to screen these applicants and if they test positive for nicotine, they won’t be eligible for hire at that point in time,” Bob Zimmel, the hospital’s senior vice president of human resources said.
Zimmel says he proposed the policy about a month and a half ago after hearing about a similar rule in Cleveland. He says the policy will be good for business as well as health, since it will reduce health insurance claims.
“I’m sure some people will challenge us and we’ll handle it accordingly when it happens,” Zimmel said.