AHA News: Quitting Smoking Could Lead to Major Changes in Gut Bacteria

FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Quitting smoking leads to major changes in intestinal bacteria, according to new research. But just what the changes mean will need further investigation.

The small pilot study, to be presented Monday during the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia, comes in the wake of past research showing a link between bacteria in the gut and cardiovascular health. That past work has shown smoking is associated with a decrease in diversity in the types of beneficial bacteria living in the gut.

For the new study, researchers looked at 26 people who were trying to quit smoking and analyzed their stool samples at the start of the study and again two weeks and 12 weeks later.

“We concluded that smoking cessation changes the gut microbiota, and I think that’s a significant piece of science,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Marcus Sublette.

“It’s already been established that smoking changes the gut microbiome. What we’re adding here is that smoking cessation itself will continue to change the gut microbiome. Then the question of course is, ‘Is this good? Or is it bad?’ We don’t know yet.”

The study showed improvements in bacterial diversity were associated with reductions in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and C-reactive protein levels, which rise in response to inflammation. It also showed an increase in hemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen.

“All of those changes are indirect markers of potentially better health,” said Sublette, a cardiology fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “It adds greater fuel to the hypothesis that the gut microbiome is really doing something for cardiovascular disease.”

Sublette said researchers also found that people who quit smoking had decreases in some bacteria called firmicutes and increases in others called bacteroides that past studies have shown could be measures for lower risk for diabetes and obesity.

“It’s hard to know exactly yet what that ratio means, because we are very early on in the study of the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease. But it adds to the overall picture and helps us start to understand this,” he said.

The study was limited by its small patient size and its relatively narrow focus, Sublette said.”We are not digging down to the exact species of bacteria. Rather, we’re looking at larger proportions or ratios of large groups of bacteria.”

Sublette said he plans to do future research in which mice are fed living bacteria from humans.

“If we give the microbiota of both an ongoing smoker and a successful quitter to a sterile mouse, how does that change their atherosclerotic disease progression?”

Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Microbiome & Human Health at the Cleveland Clinic, said the study results “hint at the need to take a global view of one’s metabolism, including the gut microbial community within.”

Hazen, who was not involved in the research, said “a change in our environmental exposure impacts the host in many different ways, including shifts in the gut microbial community. What changes occur as a result of smoking cessation is an interesting question that remains to be determined.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019 – Daily MedNews

Ask a Stoner: Smoking Hemp Buds

Dear Stoner: Are hemp cigarettes or joints a thing? Like, all hemp?

Dear Justine: Smoking hemp is turning into very much of a thing, as well as a headache for law enforcement. Since the feds legalized hemp late last year, state and local prosecutors have had to drop hundreds, if not thousands, of low-level marijuana cases because of how hard it is to tell the two plants apart. (Hemp is supposed to have under 0.3 percent THC, but that measurement takes weeks and resources to verify.) And police are getting pissed off about the similarity, because it’s forcing them to back off marijuana enforcement, even in states where pot is still illegal, like Texas.

Checking out the plants at Veritas Farms, a hemp cultivation in southern Colorado.EXPAND

Checking out the plants at Veritas Farms, a hemp cultivation in southern Colorado.

Jacqueline Collins

But are people actually smoking lots of hemp flower? Not as much as the concentrate, but the short answer is yes. High-CBD hemp buds, which look strikingly similar to pot, and hemp cigarettes are now sold in smoke shops, CBD stores and even online, while rolling papers and blunt wraps made of hemp leaves are sold by the bagful at dispensaries. Hemp-marijuana spliffs are even a thing, too. Welcome to 2019.

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Ask a Stoner: Waiting to Drive After Smoking Pot

Dear Stoner: How many hours after smoking marijuana does it take for you to be able to drive?

Dear Dewayne: This isn’t an answer we can just pull out of our butt cracks for you. There isn’t enough science to sit on in order to give you an exact time frame, but our asses aren’t completely bare, either. Because cannabis impairment isn’t as easy to determine through breath and blood levels, law enforcement still doesn’t have an exact way of determining how high you really are, though advancements are being made in breath and blood testing to detect THC levels and determine when a driver last consumed.

A Colorado county sheriff measures a driver's impairment levels during a 2018 driving experiment that measures the skills of alcohol and cannabis users.

A Colorado county sheriff measures a driver’s impairment levels during a 2018 driving experiment that measures the skills of alcohol and cannabis users.

Thomas Mitchell

Most state laws surrounding cannabis DUIs focus on the amount of THC in the blood, measuring it in nanograms (Colorado’s limit is 5 nanograms). However, daily users are likely to have high levels of THC even if they last smoked the day before, while novice and new users will have low levels of THC in their blood several hours after consumption, despite still being baked.

It all comes down to your tolerance and the potency of the cannabis. Still, we’d recommend waiting at least a couple hours after you toke before you think about driving, no matter what.

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When Does Heart Health Return to Normal After Quitting Smoking?

TUESDAY, Aug. 20, 2019 — When you stop smoking, your heart starts to rebound right away, but a full recovery can take as long as 15 years, a new study suggests.

“The benefit of quitting smoking cannot be overstated — the cardiovascular system begins to recover quickly, with some physiologic changes happening within hours,” said lead researcher Meredith Duncan, of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Duncan and her team found that within five years after quitting, your risk of heart disease is significantly lower than that of people who continue to puff away. But it takes 10 to 15 years before your risk is similar to that of someone who never smoked.

Experts have long thought that an ex-smoker’s risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death from heart disease returns to normal within five years.

Given this new finding, Duncan said doctors should consider that heavy smokers who stop will have a higher-than-normal risk for heart problems for at least a decade.

“Full recovery may take several years, so today is a great day for current smokers to quit smoking, and make a doctor’s appointment to plan for successful long-term cessation and to discuss other steps toward heart health,” she said.

For the study, her team collected data on nearly 8,800 men and women who took part in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing study of factors that contribute to heart disease.

Among the study participants, nearly 2,400 were heavy tobacco users, meaning they smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, or an equivalent.

During an average follow-up of 26 years, more than 2,400 participants had a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or died from heart disease. Of these, nearly 1,100 were heavy smokers, the researchers found.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center in Los Angeles, said nearly every study of former smokers finds that their risk for heart events is lower than that of those who continue to smoke.

“It’s never too late, from a cardiovascular risk standpoint, to stop smoking,” he said, no matter how much you smoke or how long you’ve done so.

Fonarow pointed out that smoking is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease and premature death. “Quitting significantly lowers this risk,” he said.

But the length of time when the risk is reduced to the same level as people who never smoked has been estimated to be anywhere between two and 20 years, he said. It’s usually pegged at five years, he added. This new study among heavy smokers doubles that time.

“It is best to never start smoking,” Fonarow said. “For those who do smoke, it is important to completely quit as soon as possible.”

The report was published Aug. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

To learn more about smoking and cardiovascular disease, head to the American Heart Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019 – Daily MedNews

Why Vaping Weed is Better than Smoking It?

People use marijuana for different purposes. Weed lovers just want to get “high”. Some people want to relieve the symptoms of some disease or condition as cannabis is claimed to help with sleep disorders, regulate insulin production, reduce social anxiety and depression, relieve multiple sclerosis, arthritis and other forms of pain. There’re also users who pursue both mentioned goals.

No matter what drives you to use marijuana, you may wonder what is the best way to inhale it is: smoking or vaping? Let’s see.

What way of inhaling marijuana has a better effect?

You’ll see for yourself when you try a weed vape pen on Vapingdaily, that vaporizing marijuana differs from your usual way of smoking it. And the effects are faster.

A group of scientists studied the effects of smoked and vaporized cannabis in 2016. They recruited 17 adults who had experience of marijuana smoking, but not in the month prior to the study’s launch.

The experiment lasted 6 weeks. Each participant had one smoking or vaping session per week. THC doses were of 0 mg, 10 mg, and 25 mg, with the 0-mg dose being the control point.

After each session, physiological changes in the participants were examined. They also filled a questionnaire to self-report their experience and completed 3 computerized tasks designed to measure attention span, memory, physical reaction time and motor movement.

Both 10mg and 25mg got the users quite stoned. But it turned out that when being vaped, the same doses of cannabis resulted in significantly stronger subjective drug effects, higher blood THC levels, and slower cognitive and psychomotor performance.

What are the health advantages of vaping cannabis over smoking it?

If compared to smoking, vaporizing is a much safer way to consume marijuana. It has two bonuses for your health.

1. Vapor is cleaner than smoke.

Smoking occurs at a minimum of 230°C. A joint burns at much higher temperatures which may reach 600-900°C.

When weed burns in the joint, the chemical bonds between organic molecules and carbon atoms are broken apart and “free radicals” are generated. These components create a lot of different harmful toxins, including carcinogens. Thus, 88% of the compounds that are emitted into the smoke are not cannabinoids and terpenes.

Regular weed smoking leads to the tar build up in the lungs, similar to tobacco smoking. This may lead to respiratory health problems.

Vaporizing cannabis doesn’t produce the toxins that smoking does, because the plant matter doesn’t burn but is heated up. A vape pen for weed operates at 160-230°C. The vapor from cannabis contains about 94% cannabinoids, 5% flavonoids (beneficial plant pigments) and about 1% of aromatic hydrocarbon (an organic compound containing carbon and hydrogen).

2. Vaping has less impact on the lungs.

Whether from tobacco, cannabis, or wood, smoke is harmful to your lungs. As mentioned above, carcinogens and other toxic chemicals are released during the combustion of materials.

Moreover, marijuana smokers take larger puffs, inhale more deeply, and hold their breath longer when compared to those who use weed pens. This leads to greater exposure.

Research shows that regular marijuana smoking injures the cell linings of the large airways. That’s why smokers experience chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and bronchitis.

Given that vapor is cleaner that smoke, it’s more loyal to your throat and lungs. However, vaping is still not well-researched. So, there may be potential risks to the heath we don’t yet know about. To stay on the safe side, vape in moderation.

Are there any additional pluses?

Aside from the health benefits, vaping surpasses smoking in the following aspects:

  • No “high”

THC and CBD are two active marijuana compounds that contribute to the plant’s therapeutic properties. The difference in effect is the only – unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce psychoactive effects. In other words, it doesn’t make you “high”.

Some people avoid smoking medical marijuana because it impairs their coordination and reaction time. They only want to reap weed’s health benefits and keep a clear state of mind at the same time. Thanks to vaping CBD oil, they can have this opportunity. CBD is derived from the marijuana plant and mixed with a carrier oil (hemp seed or coconut) to create CBD oil.

  • Convenience

A weed pen allows setting different temperatures. This makes it easier to reach the desired intensity of high. For example, to reach a mellow high, set your device at 150°C. To increase the potency, set the temperature of 166-187°C. But don’t go higher than 229°C which is a near-combustion temperature. You’ll reduce the elimination of cannabinoids.

Vaporizing marijuana isn’t as smelly as smoking it. Moreover, vapor dissipates faster than smoke. So, you won’t attract unwanted attention if you happen to vape in public.

  • Cost-efficiency

As soon as you light a joint, the flame begins to destroy the blunt and everything in it, even when you are not taking a hit. And when you do, it burns even faster. Vaping gives more control. You set the temperature and can switch your vaporizer off. Both these features make a substantial impact on the cost of your marijuana vape session.

  • Availability

Access to medical marijuana involves getting a doctor’s prescription. When it comes to cannabis products made for vaporizing, many of us can buy weed online for our cannabis vaporization without any problems.

Generally, online stores only ask visitors to verify the age by clicking on “I’m older than 21” icon. And after that, you can choose the best vape pen for weed and marijuana products, such as dry herb, oil, or wax. Besides, CBD oil is completely legal as it contains no more than 0.3% THC.

Keep in mind that the use of marijuana may cause side effects. This is especially true for conventional or “street” weed that might contain harmful fungus and/or pesticides. It can be dangerous for people with a compromised immune system. When it comes to treatment with marijuana, it’s better to visit a doctor, get a prescription, and buy the product at a reliable supplier.

Robert Mayers was born and raised in Atlanta. A writer and a reader in one person and a big lover what he does.

Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Raising Legal Smoking Age to 21 Works

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Parts of the United States that raised the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 have seen significant reductions in cigarette smoking among young adults.

Compared to other regions, those with tobacco-21 laws had a 39% decline in regular smoking among 18- to 20-year-olds who had previously experimented with cigarettes, a new study found.

In that age group, the reduction was even larger (50%) among those whose close friends smoked at age 16, according to the study published recently in the journal Addiction.

“This research indicates that a ‘social multiplier’ effect may amplify the impact of tobacco-21 laws,” said lead author Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn.

“As peer smoking is a critical predictor of youth smoking, this study suggests that tobacco-21 laws may help reduce smoking among those most susceptible to tobacco use,” she said in a Society for the Study of Addiction news release. “This result supports raising the age of sale to 21 as a means to reduce young adult smoking and improve public health.”

As of June, 16 states and more than 400 localities had adopted tobacco-21 laws.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE:Addiction, news release, July 25, 2019

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Smoking May Interfere With ‘Embolization’ Lung Treatment

TUESDAY, July 30, 2019 — Here’s yet another downside to cigarette smoking: Treatment for blood vessel abnormalities in the lungs is less likely to be successful if patients are smokers, a new study finds.

These abnormal connections between arteries and veins in the lung are called pulmonary arteriovenous malformations (PAVMs). They’re associated with an inherited disorder called hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, the study authors explained.

“Smoking cessation is very important if these patients want to help themselves and avoid further procedures,” said senior author Dr. Sanjay Misra, an interventional radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “We should urge current smokers to stop smoking before treatment.”

The findings were published July 30 in the journal Radiology.

Misra explained that when the lung abnormalities become symptomatic, “we are asked to embolize them using coils.”

Embolization involves using a catheter to insert a small coil to block the PAVM. The procedure is highly effective, but PAVMs persist in some patients.

In this study, Misra and his colleagues assessed how smoking affects PAVM persistence. It included 103 patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia who underwent embolization for a total of 373 PAVMs.

The five-year persistence rate was 26% in patients who were smokers at the time of the procedure, compared with 13% in nonsmokers.

PAVM persistence occurred in more than a third of smokers with more than 20 pack years, compared with 12.2% of nonsmokers. Pack years is a measure of how long and how much a person has smoked.

“Smoking more than 20 pack years was associated with a fivefold increase in PAVM recurrence,” Misra said in a journal news release.

Previous research has linked smoking with inflammation and abnormalities in the formation of new blood vessels.

“Smoking creates an inflammatory response,” Misra said. “More inflammation creates a greater likelihood of failure for smokers compared to those who never smoked.”

If these findings are confirmed in larger studies, the researchers believe better advice can be given to patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia who are considering embolization for PAVMs.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on pulmonary arteriovenous malformation, or PAVM.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019 – Daily MedNews

Tough E-Cig Rules Might Push Folks Back to Smoking

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Banning flavors and lowering nicotine levels in electronic cigarettes is a strategy that could backfire, a new study suggests.

Without those draws, many people would vape less and smoke more tobacco cigarettes, researchers claim.

“Some regulations on e-cigarettes, like making safer batteries, would benefit the general public,” said study author Lauren Pacek. She’s an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

But others, like reducing nicotine, might prompt adults to cut down or quit e-cigarettes and smoke more tobacco cigarettes, Pacek said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken steps in the past year to try to make e-cigarettes less appealing to youth, following a huge surge in teen use of the devices.

For this new study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Pacek and her team surveyed 240 young adults aged 18 to 29 who used both e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes.

In the online survey, participants were asked what they would do if the sale of flavored e-cigarettes were limited; if e-cigarettes didn’t contain nicotine, and if they couldn’t adjust the amount of nicotine or the temperature of the vapor.

If nicotine was not in e-cigarettes, 47% of the participants said they wouldn’t use them as often and would smoke more tobacco cigarettes.

If the ability to customize e-cigarettes was no longer available, 22% said they would use e-cigarettes less and smoke tobacco cigarettes more. About 17% said if e-cigarette flavors were limited to tobacco and menthol, they would do the same.

Pacek said that the FDA is now looking at reducing the level of nicotine in tobacco cigarettes to a very low level. Nicotine cannot be eliminated entirely, because that’s beyond the FDA’s authority, she explained.

“The level would be so low that smokers cannot smoke enough cigarettes to get the amount of nicotine that they’re craving,” she said.

Pacek has taken part in large trials in which people used low-nicotine cigarettes. Contrary to what you might expect, people actually smoked fewer cigarettes, she said.


It’s possible that if nicotine was reduced in tobacco and e-cigarettes, people would seek their nicotine fix elsewhere, Pacek said.

On the positive side, Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said that removing flavors and nicotine reduces the use of e-cigarette, which is a plus.

Because this study is so small and the questions hypothetical, its ability to predict an actual increase in smoking tobacco cigarettes isn’t firm, said Glantz, who had no part in the research.

“Flavors are absolutely crucial to attracting kids to e-cigarettes,” he said. “The evidence on adult use of flavors is very limited.”

Glantz believes that flavor bans on e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes would result in people using both these products less.

Studies of reduced nicotine cigarettes have found that people tend to quit rather than smoke more, Glantz said. “Reducing the nicotine levels in cigarettes looks like it would lead more people to quit,” he said.

San Francisco has banned e-cigarettes and flavors in all tobacco products including menthol, Glantz said. He thinks this will result in more people giving up tobacco altogether.

The ban on e-cigarettes will remain in effect only until the FDA’s regulations on e-cigarettes are enforced, he said.

The report was published July 15 in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Lauren Pacek, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C.; Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., professor, medicine, Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco; July 15, 2019,Substance Use & Misuse

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Ask a Stoner: Smoking Weed Without a Lighter or Matches

Dear Stoner: What are some ways to smoke weed without a lighter or matches?
Mac Gyver

Dear Mac: You could just buy an electronic vaporizer, and then you’d only need to find an outlet every once in a while — but that might be a first-world solution. Trying to smoke weed without a lighter or matches is a challenge we’ve all faced, but even the most creative tokers usually need a little help unless they know how to rub twigs together like a Boy Scout. Then again, if you were a Boy Scout, you probably wouldn’t be asking for survival tips from a stoner.

If you have a gas stove, then your problem is solved: Just get a candle, wick or something else you can safely transfer the flame to, and puff away. If you only have a coil stove, then try knife hits: sticking two butter knives in the heated stove coils, placing weed or hash in between them and then sucking up the smoke. Both of those options can get dangerous, though. The most eco-friendly and safe way to burn buds without a lighter is the sun. Just grab a medium-sized magnifying glass, position it between the sun and your pipe, and burn that solar bowl.

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Women Who Quit Smoking Cut Bladder Cancer Risk

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — If you’re an older woman who smokes, quitting may bring a health benefit you haven’t considered: A new study suggests it lowers your risk of bladder cancer.

The largest decline in risk was in the first 10 years after quitting, with a modest but steady decline in following years.

Bladder cancer is fairly rare — about 4.6% of new cancer cases in 2019 — but is the most common type of urinary system cancer. It often recurs and it has a significant death rate, according to study author Dr. Yueyao Li, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Public Health at Indiana University in Bloomington.

While bladder cancer is more common in men, women often have worse outcomes even when diagnosed at similar stages.

Smoking is a known risk factor, but findings about the link between how long it’s been since a person quit and reduction in bladder cancer risk have been inconsistent.

In this study, Li’s team examined data from about 144,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study of postmenopausal women in the U.S.

Of those, 52.7% never smoked; 40.2% were former smokers and 7.1% were current smokers.

As of Feb. 28, 2017, there had been 870 cases of bladder cancer among the women. Compared to those who never smoked, former smokers had twice the risk of bladder cancer and current smokers had more than triple the risk.

Researchers found a 25% reduction in risk among former smokers in the 10 years after they quit, and it continued to fall more slowly after that. But even 30 years after quitting, ex-smokers still had a higher risk of bladder cancer than women who never smoked.

Compared with current smokers, former smokers had a 39% decrease in bladder cancer risk, which continued to fall over time.

The study was recently published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

“Our study emphasizes the importance of primary prevention (by not beginning to smoke) and secondary prevention (through smoking cessation) in the prevention of bladder cancer among postmenopausal women,” Li said in a journal news release.

“Current smokers should be advised to quit smoking in order to reduce the risk of bladder cancer,” she added.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE:Cancer Prevention Research, news release

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Vaping and Smoking May Signal Greater Motivation to Quit

TUESDAY, April 30, 2019 — Parents who use both traditional and electronic cigarettes may be trying harder to quit smoking than those who only smoke regular cigarettes, researchers report.

“Our findings suggest that smoking parents who start using e-cigarettes may have done so out of a desire to quit smoking,” said study author Emara Nabi-Burza, from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, in Boston.

“However, many of them end up becoming dual users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, maintaining their addiction to nicotine and also exposing their children to e-cigarette aerosols, which contain hazardous substances,” added Nabi-Burza, who is also with the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Mass General.

The researchers also found that parents who use both traditional cigarettes and e-cigs were as likely as cigarette-only smokers to allow smoking in their homes, but were much more likely to allow smoking in their cars and vaping in both their homes and cars.

That suggests that dual users may mistakenly believe that e-cigarette fumes contain fewer health-damaging toxins than smoke from traditional cigarettes, the study authors said in a hospital news release.

The study included more than 700 parents who reported using traditional cigarettes. Of those, 11% reported also using e-cigarettes. Of the 115 parents who reported using e-cigarettes, 70% also smoked traditional cigarettes.

Compared with parents who smoked traditional cigarettes only, dual users were more likely: to have a child less than 1 year old at home; to plan to quit smoking in the next six months; to have attempted to quit smoking in the past three months; to have used nicotine replacement or called a smoking quit-line in the past two years.

The researchers pointed out that, although e-cigs are often marketed as a way to help smokers kick the habit, they are not approved for smoking cessation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to study senior author Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, “While e-cigarettes emit numerous toxins in addition to nicotine and still pose health risks, nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum, lozenges or patches has proven effectiveness in supporting smoking cessation and eliminating nicotine exposure to infants and children.”

Winickoff, who is director of pediatric research at the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center and also a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, added that “pediatric offices are an ideal location for offering evidence-based treatments to patients’ parents, and educating them that e-cigarettes are not a safer option.”

The study was published online April 22 in the journal Academic Pediatrics.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on quitting smoking.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: April 2019 – Daily MedNews

Medicaid Could Save $2.6 Billion a Year With Dip in Smoking

FRIDAY, April 19, 2019 — Just a 1% decrease in the number of Medicaid recipients who smoke could save the insurance program billions of dollars a year, a new study suggests.

Over one year, that small decline in smoking and its associated health harms would lead to $ 2.6 billion in total Medicaid savings the following year and millions for each state, researchers found.

“While 14% of all adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, 24.5% of adult Medicaid recipients smoke,” said study author Stanton Glantz, of the University of California, San Francisco. He’s director of its Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“This suggests that an investment in reducing smoking in this population could be associated with a reduction in Medicaid costs in the short run,” Glantz added in a university news release.

Half the states would save $ 25 million or more, with California reaping $ 630.2 million (if the smoking rate fell from 15.5% to 14.5%), the study found. At the low end, South Dakota could save $ 2.5 million (if the rate fell from 41% to 40%).

It’s well known that reducing smoking is associated with reduced health costs, but it’s commonly assumed that it takes years to see these savings, Glantz said.

“While this is true for some diseases, such as cancer, other health risks such as heart attacks, lung disease and pregnancy complications respond quickly to changes in smoking behavior. So reducing the prevalence of smoking would be an excellent short-term investment in the physical health of smokers and the fiscal health of the Medicaid system,” he said.

The study examined only the potential savings from reducing the total number of smokers who receive Medicaid, the publicly funded health insurance program for the poor. But even if each smoker just smoked less, there would be additional reductions in health care costs, according to Glantz.

“Because some health risks linked with smoking, such as cancer, can take years to fully manifest, these savings would be likely to grow with each passing year,” he said.

Total Medicaid costs in 2017 were $ 577 billion, he noted.

The study was published online April 12 in JAMA Network Open.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the health risks of smoking and tobacco.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: April 2019 – Daily MedNews

Smoking Around Expectant Moms Can Harm Babies’ Hearts

SUNDAY, March 24, 2019 — Fathers-to-be who expose their pregnant partners to secondhand smoke put their babies at risk of heart defects, researchers warn.

For the new study, investigators in China reviewed 125 studies that included a total of nearly 9 million prospective parents and more than 137,000 babies with congenital heart defects.

All types of parental smoking were linked to an increased risk of these birth defects, the analysis found. Compared to no smoking exposure, the increased risk was 124 percent for women exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant, 74 percent for men smoking, and 25 percent for women smoking.

“Fathers are a large source of secondhand smoke for pregnant women, which appears to be even more harmful to unborn children than women smoking themselves,” said study author Jiabi Qin of Central South University in Changsha, China.

“Fathers-to-be should quit smoking,” Qin said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

The overall risk with all types of parental smoking was greater when the analysis was restricted to Asian groups, the study authors noted.

Women’s exposure to secondhand smoke was dangerous throughout pregnancy — and even before, according to the report. While those who smoked before getting pregnant had no added risk, those who smoked during pregnancy were more apt to give birth to a child with a heart defect.

Specifically, smoking while pregnant was associated with a 27 percent higher risk for the newborn to have a hole in the wall between the heart’s upper chambers (atrial septal defect), and a 43 percent higher risk of an abnormality in which the smooth flow of blood through the heart is blocked (right ventricular outflow tract obstruction).

Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of stillbirth. These birth defects also affect eight in 1,000 babies born worldwide. Though treatments have improved, the effects last a lifetime.

Qin said women should stop smoking before trying to conceive and should avoid smokers, too. Employers can help by ensuring workplaces are smoke-free.

“Doctors and primary health care professionals need to do more to publicize and educate prospective parents about the potential hazards of smoking for their unborn child,” Qin concluded.

The study was published March 24 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

More information

The March of Dimes has more on smoking and pregnancy.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: March 2019 – Daily MedNews

States Raising Smoking Age to Combat Teen Vaping

Nicholas Chadi, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Rob Crane, MD, Ohio State University, Columbus.

Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY.

Ted Kwong, Juul, San Francisco.

Adam Leventhal, PhD, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Lisa Morawski, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office, Salem, OR.

George Parman, Altria, Richmond, VA.

Kaitlyn M. Berry, JAMA Network Open, Feb.1, 2019.

N. Chadi, Journal of Addiction Medicine, Jan. 24, 2019.

M. Goniewicz, BMJ Journals, Sept. 7, 2018.

Institute of Medicine: “Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products.”

2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

O. Owotomo, Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for children at Risk, Volume 8, Article 5, 2017.

Richmond Times Dispatch: “Northam signs bill to raise tobacco minimum age to 21.”

Governor.Hawaii.Gov, “News Release: Governor Ige Signs Historic Smoking Measure.” “JUULpod Basics.” “Home page and Generic Fact Sheet.”

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: “States and localities that have raised the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products to 21,” “Raising the tobacco age to 21,” “The path to tobacco addiction starts at very young ages.” “Photo Release: Governor Baker Signs Bill Raising Age to Purchase Tobacco Products.”

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes.”

CDC: “Youth and Tobacco Use,” “Cigarette smoking among U.S. high school students at an all-time low, but e-cigarette use a concern,” “Electronic cigarettes: what’s the bottom line?” “Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new data demonstrating rising youth use of tobacco products and the agency’s ongoing actions to confront the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.” “E-cigarette use among youth and young adults.”

Hawaii Department of Health.

WebMD Health

Study: Heavy Smoking May Damage Vision

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — If life looks gray and cloudy when you smoke, you might not be imagining it.

Heavy smoking may actually damage color and contrast vision, researchers report.

They looked at 71 healthy people who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes in their lives and 63 people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day. The participants were aged 25 to 45 and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision.

But the heavy smokers showed significant changes in their red-green and blue-yellow color vision and also had greater difficulty discriminating contrasts and colors than nonsmokers.

“Our results indicate that excessive use of cigarettes, or chronic exposure to their compounds, affects visual discrimination, supporting the existence of overall deficits in visual processing with tobacco addiction,” said co-author Steven Silverstein, director of research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

“Cigarette smoke consists of numerous compounds that are harmful to health, and it has been linked to a reduction in the thickness of layers in the brain, and to brain lesions, involving areas such as… the area of the brain that processes vision,” he added in a university news release.

And, he noted, “Previous studies have pointed to long-term smoking as doubling the risk for age-related macular degeneration and as a factor causing lens yellowing and inflammation.”

Nicotine and smoking harm the body’s circulatory system, and these findings indicate they also damage blood vessels and neurons in the retina, according to Silverstein.

He said the results also suggest that research into vision problems in other groups of people, such as those with schizophrenia who often smoke heavily, should take into account their smoking rate.

About 34 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 16 million have a smoking-related disease, many of which affect the cardiovascular system.

The study was published recently in the journal Psychiatry Research.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: Rutgers University, news release, Feb. 17, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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