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Friday, January 23, 2015

E-cigarette Vapor Contains Formaldehyde

Researchers continue to uncover new findings regarding the dangers of e-cigarettes. A new study has found that e-cigarette vapor can contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, at levels five to 15 times higher than regular cigarettes, NPR reports. The research was conducted at Portland State University in Oregon.

“I think this is just one more piece of evidence amid a number of pieces of evidence that e-cigarettes are not absolutely safe,” said co-author David Peyton. “We simulated vaping by drawing the vapor — the aerosol — into a syringe, sort of simulating the lungs,” he explained.

Peyton pointed out that long-term exposure to formaldehyde is known to be a contributing factor with lung cancer. “And so we would like to minimize contact (to the extent one can) especially to delicate tissues like the lungs.”

However, some believe that the findings are inaccurate, saying the testing conditions were unrealistic. “If you hold the button on an e-cigarette for 100 seconds, you could potentially produce 100 times more formaldehyde than you would ever get from a cigarette,” said Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association. “But no human vaper would ever vape at that condition, because within one second their lungs would be incredibly uncomfortable.”

"They clearly did not talk to [people who use e-cigarettes] to understand this," says Conley. "They think, 'Oh well. If we hit the button for so many seconds and that produces formaldehyde, then we have a new public health crisis to report.' "

The findings were published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Television Advertising Associated With Underage Drinking

On non-premium television stations, every several minutes, viewers are exposed to advertising. While most advertisements are fairly benign in nature, there are many that are designed to entice the viewer into consuming a particular alcoholic beverage. Unfortunately, teenagers and young adults watch the most television, so it stands to reason that they are the age groups most exposed to alcohol advertising.

New research suggests that exposure and approval of alcohol advertising on television among underage youths was associated with the onset of drinking, binge drinking and hazardous drinking, Science Daily reports. The research was conducted at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) and Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD).

In 2011 and 2013, researchers conducted telephone- and web-based surveys with 2,541 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 23 years at baseline, with 1,596 completing a follow-up survey, according to the article. Using more than 300 television advertising images for top beer and distilled spirits brands, researchers analyzed the survey participants of the ads. An alcohol receptivity score was formulated based on the participant having seen the ad, liking it and correctly identifying the brand.

"The alcohol industry claims that their advertising self-regulation program protects underage youths from seeing their ads," said Susanne Tanski, CHaD pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. "Our study indicates that it does not."

"Alcohol companies claim their advertising does not affect underage drinking -- that instead it is parents and friends that are the culprits," said James D. Sargent, MD, senior author on the study and a CHaD pediatrician, the Scott M. and Lisa G. Stuart Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Geisel, and co-director of the NCCC Cancer Control Program. "This study suggests otherwise -- that underage youths are exposed to and engaged by alcohol marketing and this prompts initiation of drinking as well as transitions from trying to hazardous drinking." The findings were published by JAMA Pediatrics.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cone Snail Venom May Treat Addiction

New treatments for cancer and addiction may one day come from the bottom of the ocean. Researchers are testing and studying the medical applications of venom from cone snails, which may hold answers for detection and possible treatment of some cancers and addictions, Medical News Today reports.

When most people think of snails, they visualize gooey creatures sluggishly moving across their garden beds, while in other parts of the world they are a delicacy known as Escargot. The cone snail is a mollusk, but unlike squid and octopi, it uses a venom to capture its prey.

"The venom produced by these animals immobilizes prey, which can be worms, other snails and fish," said Frank Marí, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University. "The venom is an extraordinary complex mixture of compounds with medicinal properties."

Marí focused his research on cone snail venom and its medical properties. Cone snail venom selectively target cells in the body and make them valuable drug leads and powerful molecular tools, according to the article. The venom is rich in alpha-conotoxins, specifically RegIIA, a compound that potently blocked the alpha3beta4 nicotinic receptor.

Alpha-conotoxins target nicotinic receptors which play a role in a range of diseases such as:
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tobacco Addiction
  • Lung Cancer
"We investigated in detail how RegIIA interacts with the alpha3beta4 nicotinic receptors and embarked on engineering new compounds that were more specific toward alpha3beta4 receptors and not other nicotinic receptors," said Marí. "Our aim is to open new avenues for cancer and addiction research inspired on compounds from marine animals."

The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Working Long Hours May Lead to Risky Drinking

A new study has found that employees who work more than 48 hours a week are at a higher risk of alcohol abuse, HealthDay reports. The research showed that people who worked more than 48 hours were almost 13 percent more likely to have risky drinking habits, compared with those who work less.

More than 300,000 people from 14 countries were included in the study. Researchers classified risky drinking to be more than 14 drinks a week for women and more than 21 drinks weekly for men.

According to the researchers, drinking this much could increase the risk of health problems, such as:
  • Cancer
  • Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Mental Disorders
“Although the risks were not very high, these findings suggest that some people might be prone to coping with excess working hours by habits that are unhealthy, in this case by using alcohol above the recommended limits,” said study author Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki.

“The paper supports the longstanding suspicion that many workers may be using alcohol as a mental and physical painkiller, and for smoothing the transition from work to home,” Cassandra Okechukwu of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in an editorial. “Many workers are working long hours, and there are many efforts to curtail regulations against working long hours,” she said. “However, policymakers should think carefully before exempting workers from restrictions on working hours.”

Virtanen believes, according to the article, that some people working long hours may turn to alcohol to cope with stress, depression, tiredness and sleep problems.

The research was published in BMJ.

Friday, January 9, 2015

More Health Information on Alcohol Products

Alcohol, the most commonly abused addictive product sold legally can cause a number of health problems, ultimately cutting peoples' lives short. While most educated people are aware of the dangers associated with consuming alcohol, there is still many who do not understand the roads that alcohol can take them down.

More alcohol is consumed in Europe than in any other part of the world, especially in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, there are very few mandates requiring that alcohol products display health information. Research from the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) has found that most of the British public would like to see more health information on alcohol product labels, Medical News Today reports.

The findings come from a nationwide survey which showed that 83% of people support the placement of health impact labels on alcohol bottles, and 87% support a warning label telling pregnant women to abstain from alcohol.

The AHA survey found that 91% of people think it is important to know how alcohol can affect health. The data showed that many people, just under half (47 percent) did not know that alcohol use could lead to cancer. The researchers found that 31 percent, less than a third, of people were unaware of alcohol's link to breast cancer and only 50 percent of people knew that alcohol use was tied to mouth/throat cancer.

"The complete lack of health information on many alcohol products is indefensible. It's not right that labeling is mandatory for a box of corn flakes but not for alcoholic products which can seriously harm health. The public should have this information to allow them to make an informed choice,” said Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK and Special Advisor on Alcohol to the Royal College of Physicians. “It's about time the government took action to make this possible and started listening to the people rather than big business."