Friday, November 25, 2022

Good News about Nicotine

The good news is that anyone can choose to not smoke and anyone can kick the habit if they want to bad enough. Nicotine is nicotine—however it is delivered. Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of sickness and mortality, responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. The worst health consequences associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to the inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion; the pleasurable, reinforcing, and addictive properties of smoking are produced mostly by the nicotine contained in tobacco. [Using PET Scans, researchers at the University of Michigan (in the first human study) showed that (like heroin and morphine) smoking cigarettes stimulates the brain's production of dopamine and chemicals known as opioids. Smoking cigarettes triggers the release of addictive feel-good brain chemicals, notably dopamine and opiods. It appears that smokers have an altered opioid flow all the time, when compared with non-smokers.] According to WebMD, e-cigarettes are already a booming, billion-dollar industry, on track to outsell tobacco products within a decade. If you don’t smoke, never start. If you do smoke, get help to quit—for your life and health and the life and health of those whom you love.

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving in the USA

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the quality of being grateful—and to practice it! Neurobiologically, gratitude is right up there with awe and wonder. The benefits are myriad. Doctors have pointed out that when you pause to appreciate and show caring and compassion, the more order and coherence you experience internally. When your heart is in an ‘internal coherence state,’ studies suggest that you enjoy the capacity to be peaceful and calm yet retain the ability to respond appropriately to stressful circumstances. I choose to practice gratitude on a daily basis. What makes Thanksgiving Day more unique than any other day? On this day I pause to be specifically grateful for those individuals who love me enough to give me quality time throughout the year by phone, text, email, snail mail—and sometimes in person (how deliciously rewarding). I refer to them as my ‘family-of-choice’ because a gift of time is a personal choice. It is the only thing your brain can give another brain that no one else can. For their quality time I am truly grateful. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, my wish for you today is that you both give and receive the gift of ‘quality time.’

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

E-cigarettes and Increased risks

The National Institutes of Health funded a study to evaluate whether exposure to E-cigarettes increased one’s risk for initiation to smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. Recently, Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director, released the results of the study. Researchers found that teenagers who use E-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking tobacco. Teenagers who smoke E-cigarettes are reportedly at three times higher risk for smoking regular cigarettes within about a year—when compared with teenagers who do not use E-Cigs. Another study revealed that the students who have used e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

E-cigarette Down Sides

Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Recent research suggests that nicotine exposure may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. Testing of some e-cigarette products found that the vapor contained known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear. Another worry is the refillable cartridges used by some e-cigarettes may expose themselves to potentially toxic levels of nicotine when refilling them. Cartridges could also be filled with substances other than nicotine, thus possibly serving as a new and potentially dangerous way to deliver other drugs.

Monday, November 21, 2022

E-cigs and the Brain

Not long ago a young man told me proudly that he had quit smoking cigarettes. I was on the point of commending his choice when he said, “E-cigarettes are much better!” Really? Think again. I referred him to the NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse fact sheet. Also known as ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems)e-cigs typically consist of a power source, which is usually a battery; some type of vaporizer or heating device; and a liquid that contains nicotine along with flavorings such as candy, fruit, mint, and coffee, and other chemicals. In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The resulting aerosol or vapor is then inhaled (called ‘vaping’).Because they deliver nicotine without burning tobacco leaves, many tout them as a safer and less toxic alternative to traditional cigarettes. Very little is actually known about the long-term health risks of using these e-cigarette devices. Even in States that have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, teens have been obtaining them by simply ordering the devices online. Particles breathed into the lung from the tobacco and other chemicals take up space that would have been used by oxygen-filled air, which means the brain is frequently partly anoxic: not getting enough oxygen to adequately fuel processes in the brain.

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Friday, November 18, 2022

WHO Key Facts in 2022

This is what the World Health Organization has to say:

- Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. 

- More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

- Over 80% of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.

- In 2020, 22.3% of the global population used tobacco, 36.7% of all men and 7.8% of the world’s women.

To address the tobacco epidemic, WHO Member States adopted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2003. Currently 182 countries have ratified this treaty. Measures in line with the WHO FCTC are in place in some areas. They have been shown to reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditures and to save lives.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Tobacco Epidemic

The other day I was chatting with a dear little first-grader. A person walked by on the sidewalk and blew out a cloud of cigarette smoke. The breeze carried it toward us. She vigorously fanned her little hands, trying to push it away. “I hate the smell,” she continued. “My daddy and my grandpappy both smoke. It gives me a headache. Why do people still smoke?” Good question. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. All forms of tobacco are harmful, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco. Cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use worldwide, killing more than 8 million people a year, including around 1.2 million deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke. Therein lies a big problem. It is one thing to choose to smoke yourself. It is another to expose loved ones and friends to your side smoke, which increases their risk of disease and death, especially for babies and children in one’s home who have no way of escape, as well as other family members.