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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Obese or Overweight Teens Linked to Cigarettes

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...
A study was conducted to determine if teenage weight had any correlation with drug and alcohol use. While researchers were unable to tie overweight and obese teens to a higher risk of drug and alcohol use, they were, however, able to link weight status to regular cigarette smoking, according to Science Daily.

Researchers looked at data from a large survey of American teenagers, titled the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Study participants reported their height and weight, and were asked about their use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana.

Overweight or obese as teenagers were found to be no more likely to abuse alcohol or marijuana than those who were of normal or average weight. However, a statistical analysis showed a correlation between high body mass index (BMI) and cigarette smoking in young adulthood.

"Young people smoke cigarettes for a variety of reasons," said lead author H. Isabella Lanza, Ph.D., research associate with the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs in Los Angeles. "For overweight or obese adolescents, the increased desire to improve social standing or fit in with others may also increase the probability of engaging in regular cigarette smoking."

Lanza goes on to say that cigarettes may also be used more by overweight and obese teens because they are thought to suppress appetite and help with weight reduction.

"I think we will see this play out even more in the public arena with a new generation of youth being persuaded to try e-cigarettes and other forms of 'healthier' nicotine products in order to advance their social standing," she added.

The widely held belief that smoking cigarettes helps with appetite suppression and weight reduction is not true, according to Christopher N. Ochner, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and spokesperson for The Obesity Society. "People who smoke crave fatty foods more."

The findings were reported in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THC May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...
As states become more tolerant of marijuana it has opened the doors for researchers across the country to conduct studies with the substance. One such study has found that low levels of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound found in marijuana, may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease, reports Science Daily.

Neuroscience researchers at the University of South Florida conducted experiments using a cellular model of Alzheimer's disease. Their findings indicate that low doses of THC may reduce the production of amyloid beta, a protein which can be found in most aging brains. The abnormal accumulation of the amyloid beta protein is believed to be one of the pathological hallmarks of early Alzheimer’s disease.

"THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer's pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function," said study lead author Chuanhai Cao, PhD and a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.

"Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future."

Scientists have commonly viewed THC as a cause of brain memory loss, but the new research suggests that the therapeutic benefits outweigh the older views on the substance. Compounds in marijuana have also been found to reduce seizures among the severely epileptic.

"While we are still far from a consensus, this study indicates that THC and THC-related compounds may be of therapeutic value in Alzheimer's disease," said Neel Nabar, a study co-author and MD/PhD candidate. "Are we advocating that people use illicit drugs to prevent the disease? No. It's important to keep in mind that just because a drug may be effective doesn't mean it can be safely used by anyone. However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease."

The findings were reported online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teenage Male Views of E-cigarettes

As e-cigarettes become more popular, especially among young adults and teenagers who tend to hold that the nicotine devices are a “healthier alternative” to traditional tobacco, many are left wondering about the facts and viewpoints surrounding the devices. A research study titled “The Social Norms and Beliefs of Teenage Male Electronic Cigarette Use,” was recently published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse (Routledge).

The study's focus was the social norms and beliefs of teenage male electronic cigarette users. 

“Much of our past research has been conducted on tobacco use among disparate populations, in particular African American males,” said Dr. Ronald Peters and Dr. Angela Meshack in a joint statement. “The present research is an extension of our previous work and began after getting anecdotal evidence from students with whom we work. They shared that they were beginning to use electronic cigarettes because they were novel and had high social approval among their peers.”

The study’s data comes from a sample of 47 males ages 15-17 years old who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. Researchers asked four open-ended questions to determine participants' subjective norms and beliefs related to e-cigarette use:
  • Why do youth use electronic cigarettes?
  • Where are places that you use electronic cigarettes?
  • What do your friends think about electronic cigarettes?
  • Why are electronic cigarettes so popular?
Among African American males, researchers were able to glean several norms about teenage e-cigarette use. Easy concealment and quick consumption were found to be the primary reasons for the desired usage. As well as high social approval, the respondents had the belief that the devices were healthier and more aesthetically pleasing than traditional forms of tobacco.

“The data uncovered in this research offer potential directions for larger qualitative and quantitative research studies related to e-cigarette use among youth,” explained the researchers. “We hope with future research to determine if e-cigarette use may serve as a gateway to other drugs just as traditional tobacco cigarettes have been identified and if the user experiences higher euphoric effects.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Young Adult Prescription Drug Misuse Prevention

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Prescription drug misuse has fast become the most commonly abused substance after alcohol and marijuana for people 14 and older, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In the fight against prescription drug misuse among young adults, prevention efforts need to focus more on peers and less on peer pressure, according to a new study funded by NIDA and conducted by Purdue University.

"With the 18-29 age group we may be spending unnecessary effort working a peer pressure angle in prevention and intervention efforts. That does not appear to be an issue for this age group," said study co-author Brian Kelly, a professor of sociology and anthropology who studies drug use and youth cultures. "Rather, we found more subtle components of the peer context as influential. These include peer drug associations, peers as points of drug access, and the motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have pleasant times with friends."

The research will be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by study co-author Alexandra Marin, a sociology doctoral student at Purdue.

"People normally think about peer pressure in that peers directly and actively pressure an individual to do what they are doing," said Kelly, who also is director of Purdue's Center for Research on Young People's Health. "This study looks at that form of direct social pressure as well as more indirect forms of social pressure. We find that friends are not actively pressuring them, but it's a desire to have a good time alongside friends that matters."

Researchers looked at the role of peer factors on three prescription drug misuse outcomes:
  • The frequency of misuse.
  • Administering drugs in ways other than swallowing.
  • Symptoms of dependency on prescription drugs.

"We found that peer drug associations are positively associated with all three outcomes," Kelly said. "If there are high perceived social benefits or low perceived social consequences within the peer network, they are more likely to lead to a greater frequency of misuse, as well as a greater use of non-oral methods of administration and a greater likelihood of displaying symptoms of dependence. The motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have a good time with friends is also associated with all three outcomes. The number of sources of drugs in their peer group also matters, which is notable since sharing prescription drugs is common among these young adults."

Source: Science Daily

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More People Use E-Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...A new study has found that that more smokers use e-cigarettes to help with smoking cessation than prescription drugs like Chantix or nicotine alternatives like gums and patches. E-cigarettes have been in the spotlight over the last year as cities and states work with health officials to determine how to treat the popular devices. 

The firm Kantar Media, conducted a study of consumer behavior by mailing a questionnaire about health-related behavior to about 50,000 American households, and 20,000 people responded, according to Time. In the last year, the survey showed that of adults who said they used a product to help them quit smoking, 57 percent used e-cigarettes, 39 percent used a prescription drug like Chantix, and 39 percent used over-the-counter gums or patches. 

The study found that almost 6 million adults in the United States use e-cigarettes, while 44 million use a tobacco or nicotine product. The research showed that the average E-cigarette users are more likely than the national average to be young and male and have a lower income.

E-cigarettes are still in their infancy, which means there has been little research on the efficacy of e-cigarettes as useful smoking cessation products; experts continue to debate whether or not they are effective tools. In May, a study was published in the journal Addiction which found that smokers who switch to e-cigarettes are 60 percent more likely to be successful in quitting smoking, when compared to gums or patches

However, a group of leading lung health organizations issued a position statement which urged governments to ban or limit the use of e-cigarettes until more research is conducted and more is known about the devices’ health effects. The Forum of International Respiratory Societies, comprised of more than 70,000 members worldwide, said, “Since electronic cigarettes generate less tar and carcinogens than combustible cigarettes, using electronic cigarettes may reduce disease caused by those components. However, the health risks of electronic cigarettes have not been adequately studied. Studies looking at whether electronic cigarettes can aid smoking cessation have had inconsistent results.”

The Kantar Media study did not determine if e-cigarettes are an effective tool to quit smoking, according to the article.