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Entries in Side Effects (2)

Wednesday
Dec072011

Smoking Could Cause You to Lose Your Nipples

Zoonar/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- One plastic surgeon has given his patients yet another reason to give up cigarettes: Smoking could make their nipples fall off during cosmetic breast surgery.

When Dr. Anthony Youn, who practices in Detroit, warned his patients of this possible surgical outcome, he wasn’t just trying to scare them.

“I’ve actually seen it happen,” he told ABC News.

In his memoir, In Stitches, Youn described a smoker whose nipples began to turn dark purple during breast lift surgery, indicating that the tiny veins in her breasts were failing to keep blood flowing properly.

Cosmetic surgeries like breast lifts and breast reductions alter the blood flow to these body parts as it is. But Youn said the nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarettes could strangle blood flow even more. Body parts that don’t receive blood flow turn from purple to black -- to dead, he said.

“Among plastic surgeons, this is a very well-known complication,” Youn said. “If patients don’t stop smoking for three to four weeks before and after the surgery, they put themselves at risk for major problems.”

The risk is not only for breast surgeries. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that patients stop smoking well in advance of any cosmetic procedure. In 2009, a report to the American College of Surgeons noted that smoking could complicate the management of anesthetic during any surgery and also hinder a patient’s recovery.

Youn said patients who didn’t kick their smoking habits while undergoing nips and tucks were at a high risk for wounds straight out of a horror movie.

Smoking can, for example, damage or kill the skin of the face after a face-lift, leaving exposed tissue. Smokers getting a tummy tuck could see the skin and fat of their abdomens die off, “leaving a big crater,” Youn said.

Even secondhand smoke could lead to these complications, which can result in months of recovery and a couple thousand dollars in extra medical expenses.

Youn said he found that the most effective way to get his patients to kick their smoking habit was to tell them the truth about these very real risks.

“Smokers are addicted, and unfortunately, in order to get them to stop smoking, sometimes you have to shock them,” Youn said. “And many of my patients say, ‘Thank you so much for telling me this because now I really am going to quit.’”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov032011

FDA Should Warn Smokers of Increased Psychological Dangers of Chantix, Study Says

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Scientists say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should take warnings about the stop-smoking drug Chantix up a notch, citing data showing that the drug increases suicidal behavior and depression far more than other drugs and methods designed to help smokers quit.

Chantix, also called varenicline, has been hotly debated since 2007, when experts first raised questions about the long-term safety of the drug and its connection to cardiovascular problems and vision lapses.  Since then, studies have reported that patients taking Chantix are at increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.  Anecdotally, patients report wild dreams, inexplicable violent behavior and other psychological disturbances while on the drug.

In 2009, the FDA placed a "black box" warning label on Chantix and another drug, Zyban, cautioning doctors and patients about the risk of depression, hostility and suicidal thoughts.

But some researchers say these warnings don't go far enough.  On Thursday, a study published in the journal PLoS One continued to sound the alarm against Chantix and urged the FDA to update Chantix's warning label, saying the psychological risks of the drug exceed those of nicotine replacement drugs or even its competitor, Zyban.

Dr. Curt Furberg, a professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and one of the study's authors, said people trying to kick their tobacco habit generally are at higher risk for psychological symptoms, but Chantix makes them far worse.

"The dramatic increase of these symptoms is caused by the drug.  Among all the treatments we have for smoking cessation, Chantix is the worst," Furberg said.

In the study, Furberg and his colleagues analyzed more than 3,000 reports of suicidal behaviors or depression in people taking Chantix, Zyban, or nicotine replacement drugs, which were reported to the FDA through its Adverse Event Reporting System from 1998 through September 2010.  Of those reports, 90 percent were linked to Chantix.  In reports of completed suicides of people taking these stop-smoking treatments, the study said 92 percent were associated with Chantix.

The FDA is unmoved by this latest report. A spokeswoman for the agency said the drug is a safe and effective way to help smokers quit.  Additionally, the agency noted that this latest study failed to account for an uptick in reports of psychological side effects from Chantix that occurred as media coverage of the drug increased since 2007.

Pfizer, Chantix's manufacturer, also took issue with the data Furberg and his colleagues used in their study, saying that their reports of negative side effects are unreliable.

Pfizer also noted that at the FDA's request, the company is conducting a clinical trial to study the link between Chantix and psychological side effects.  The results are expected in 2017.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio