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Friday, April 24, 2015

The American College of Physicians for E-Cigarette Regulations

The fight to regulate e-cigarettes continues; this week the American College of Physicians (ACP) called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban flavorings and television ads for e-cigarettes, HealthDay reports. Concerns about the appeal of e-cigarettes to young people and the limited research on the devices has lead a number of health organizations to urge the FDA to act, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association.

“There are over 7,000 different flavorings in e-cigarettes, and the evidence shows that young people are attracted to these products because of the flavors. There are also concerns that there are harmful chemicals in the flavorings themselves,” said ACP spokesman Ryan Crowley.

The e-cigarette business quickly became a multi-billion dollar industry. While it may have seemed, to the FDA, that e-cigarettes were a fad that would disappear in time, research indicates that more teenagers are using e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes. This means that the FDA needs to act quickly to issue sanctions on the use of e-cigarettes, whether or not the devices are benign compared to traditional forms of tobacco. At the end of the day, nicotine is still addictive.

"The urgent need for action was underscored by the new CDC-FDA survey released last week that showed youth e-cigarette use tripled from 2013 to 2014, and surpassed use of traditional cigarettes," he said. "We can't allow the tobacco industry to addict our kids with a new generation of tobacco products."

While it seems that motions are underway to set age limits and advertising restrictions on e-cigarettes, it is still quite easy for teenagers to acquire the devices. A number of e-cigarette shops, often known as “vape” stores, will not sell to people under the age of 18. However, a number of online distributors will sell e-cigarettes regardless of a person’s age.

"We strongly agree with the American College of Physicians that the FDA should act now to regulate e-cigarettes," said Vince Willmore, vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The ACP recommendation was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Medical Marijuana for Kids ?

Medical marijuana is a hot button topic in the United States. While nearly half of the country has medical marijuana programs in one form or another, peoples' views about medical marijuana for adults and medical marijuana for children differ. The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health showed that nearly two-thirds of people agree that their state should allow medical marijuana for adults, Science Daily reports.

However, when it comes to children, eighty percent of respondents believe that adults should not be allowed to use medical marijuana in front of children, and very few people believe that children with qualifying conditions should be allowed access to the drug. While there have been a number of reported cases of medical marijuana greatly improving the lives of chronically ill children, many, especially parents, have a hard time wrapping their heads around giving marijuana to kids.

"We found that while most people support state laws that permit medical marijuana use among adults, the story is dramatically different for children. Medical marijuana is a controversial subject when we're talking about kids," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children's Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School.

"Our findings suggest that not only is the public concerned about the use of medical marijuana among children, but that the majority of Americans worry that even exposure to it may be harmful to kids' health. As is typical with anything involving health, the public's standards are much higher when it comes to protecting children's health."

You can view the full report, here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Concerns About E-Cigarette Chemicals

E-cigarettes and the lack of regulations and product standards are in the news a lot these days. The e-cigarette industry is growing exponentially; it has rapidly become a multi-billion dollar business - serving markets around the globe. Unfortunately, due to the product's relative infancy, little is known about the long term side effects and their ability to help people quit smoking.

One of the biggest complaints about e-cigarettes is the fact that many of the nicotine liquids (e-juices) which users vaporize, seem to have names and flavors which appeal to younger market. What’s more, there is not much information on the chemicals used to flavor the e-juices.

New research raises concerns about the level of chemicals used to create the e-juice flavors, HealthDay reports. While many of the chemicals used for flavoring are the same as those used for kid’s candy, safety standards for the levels of flavoring chemicals used relates to exposure via ingestion - rather than inhalation.

The researchers analyzed 30 e-cigarette fluids, such as: grape, cherry, cotton candy and bubble gum, according to the article. They point out that they did not investigate whether the chemicals were safe; they looked at the types and levels of chemicals used. The research team concluded that a person using a typical amount of e-cigarette fluid a day would be exposed to twice the recommended exposure limits of the chemicals benzaldehyde and vanillin.

The results are “likely to be similar to what a broad survey would have revealed, and in any case strongly suggest that very high levels of some flavor chemicals are undoubtedly present in a great number of the thousands of products currently available,” wrote researcher James Pankow of Portland State University in Oregon.

In most cases, e-cigarette juice makers do not reveal the ingredients used to make the flavoring on the bottles, the article reports. The researchers are calling for new regulations on e-cigarettes, including requiring a listing of ingredients, limits on the level of chemicals used for certain flavorings, and on the total levels of flavoring.

The research was published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Little Research on Teenage Hashish Use

The changing tide of views regarding marijuana has led to an increase of adolescent use and exposure. While there has been a considerable amount of research on teenage marijuana use, there has been little research on the impact of different forms of cannabis products, Medical News Today reports.

Researchers affiliated with New York University's (NYU) Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), conducted a study, the first of its kind, which examined the prevalence and correlates of teen hashish use in a nationally representative sample. Recreational marijuana use was first legalized in Colorado and Washington in 2012. Focusing on data between the years 2007-2011, the researchers analyzed how sociodemographic factors and reasons for marijuana use were related to recent hashish use, according to the article.

"Nearly one out of ten teens reported ever using hashish and it was used by a quarter of lifetime marijuana users," said Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). "Hashish and other marijuana use tended to share many of the same correlates; however, our results found that risk factors for regular marijuana use were often much stronger risk factors for hashish, a much more potent form of the drug."

While hashish is consumed in the same manner as marijuana, hashish has a much higher Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content - ranging anywhere from 2-20. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana which provides users the “high.” The potency of hashish can be increased by converting it into a more concentrated oil.

"Another key finding was that other drug use was a robust risk factor for hashish use," said Dr. Palamar. "Other illicit drug use, regular cigarette smoking, and frequent alcohol use each increased the risk for hashish use; however, a main finding was that as frequency of other marijuana use increased, so too did risk for recent hashish use."

The findings were published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Secondhand Smoke Increases Risk of ADHD

Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to a number of health problems, which is why smoking has been banned in most public places. However, exposure to secondhand smoke is still quite common in the household, and new research suggest that exposure may not only lead to physical harm. A new study from Spain has found that children exposed to secondhand smoke at home are up to three times more likely to have attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), Reuters reports.

Data from the 2011 to 2012 Spanish National Health Interview Survey was analyzed by Alicia Padron of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida and colleagues in Spain. The parents of 2,357 children ages four to 12 were asked about the level every day secondhand smoke their children were exposed to, according to the article.

Children exposed to less than one hour per day of secondhand smoke, were 50 percent more likely to have some mental disorder. While there is a lot of evidence about the harms of secondhand smoke on physical wellbeing, research on mental health problems associated with secondhand smoke is still new, said Lucy Popova, from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Research on effects of secondhand smoke on mental health have been really just emerging and this study really contributes to this growing body of evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke in children might be responsible for cognitive and behavioral problems,” said Popova.

There is no amount of secondhand smoke that is considered safe; any exposure is bad, according to Popova.

“So parents should not expose their children – the best thing to do is quit,” she said. “And this will not only not expose their children to the secondhand smoke, but will also let them enjoy their life with their children longer.”

The findings were published in Tobacco Control.