Entries in Smoking (76)


Major Study Gives Smokers New Reasons to Quit

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Quit smoking early on in life and you'll have more life later on, reveals a new study from the Center for Global Health Research at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

However, Dr. Prabhat Jha, a director at the center, warns that smokers need to do it by age 35 if they want to make sure of not lopping a decade off their life expectancy.

In another finding based on research of over 200,000 American men and women, Jha says that the death rate of people who are addicted to cigarettes is three times higher than people who've never picked up the habit.

Generally, smokers have a greater prevalence of potentially deadly conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases

Jha says that if people can kick cigarettes by age 55, they can still improve their chances of a longer life than if they don't stop.

Need more evidence that smoking just isn't worth it?  Jha and her fellow researchers learned that people who don't smoke are twice more likely to survive to 80 than perpetual puffers.

Responding to the finding, Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association,  said Jha and his team "used a very large database, so the chance that this is accurate is really high...The numbers are very, very compelling, and it points out that smoking prevention and cessation is still the most important public health challenge we have in the United States."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Many Smokers Will Have a Hard Time Lighting Up on New Year's Day

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The new year is bringing in a new set of restrictions for smokers.

Starting on Jan. 1, a number of towns and workplaces across the country are enacting new rules that will make it harder for people to find a spot to light up.

The Wall Street Journal reports that beginning on Tuesday, workers at 3M's headquarters in Saint Paul, Minn., may have to drive a quarter of a mile to a strip mall parking lot to have a cigarette because smoking will be banned everywhere on the corporate campus.

The newspaper says that state workers in Delaware also will have to go hunting for a place to smoke on New Year's Day, as all state property -- indoor and outdoor -- becomes smoke-free.  The new rule in Delaware applies not only to tobacco products, but also to electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and hookahs, according to the Journal.

Similar efforts are being discussed by officials from Maine to California as governments and businesses aim to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke, the Journal says.  

The new rules come as fewer people are lighting up.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of U.S. adults who smoke dropped to 19 percent in 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


St. Paul, Minn., Cracks Down on Candy Cigarettes

Courtesy Tobi Lynden(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- A mom-and-pop candy shop in St. Paul, Minn., got a Prohibition-style visit from authorities who threw the book at the owners for selling cigarettes and cigars to children, even though they were made only of bubble gum.

An official with the city's Department of Safety and Inspection who visited Lynden's Soda Fountain last week told the gum slingers to pack up their best-selling candy cigarettes, Big League Chew and bubble gum cigars, or face a $500 fine, proprietor Tobi Lynden told ABC News.

"This a tiny little shop.  We've got a soda fountain from the '50s, and sell nostalgic candy and ice cream.  It's a very neighborhoody place," Lynden said.

Citing a 2009 city ordinance that banned the sale of candy cigarettes for fear they'd promote smoking to minors, the health inspector told Lynden that she had to remove the offending candy or face the consequences.

Lynden complied and stored the candy sticks in the shop's basement away from the public.

When news of the crackdown hit Facebook, some took to the Web to complain.

"Wow.  Unfortunately, my grandson started smoking, and I am willing to bet he never saw a candy cigar or cigarette.  If they think that is the problem they need some new people on that committee," a woman named Becky Silver posted on the candy shop's Facebook page.

Lynden, a mother and a former nurse, said she was complying with the law but was torn as to its efficacy.

"I see both sides.  We don't want to be promoters of kids having lifelong cigarette smoking habits.  We care about kids and health.  But if the city is worried about cigarettes, maybe they should ban cigarettes," she said.

Maine and Tennessee have statewide bans on candy cigarettes, as do Thailand, Canada and Australia.

Calls to the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspection were not returned.  Spokesman Robert Humphrey, however, told the Star Tribune: "We enforce this on a complaint basis.  This isn't taking time away from any major enforcement [actions]."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Task Force Recommends Anti-Smoking Counseling for Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Are programs that aim to keep kids from smoking doing the trick? One group says -- sort of.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has given current programs like doctor counseling a "B" in how well they prevent kids and teens from lighting up. Task Force Member Sue Curry says there is definitely room for improvement.

"To get an A, there has to be strong certainty of a strong benefit," Curry says.

Every day almost 4,000 young people ages 12 to 17 try smoking for the first time, according to HealthDay News. One thousand become daily smokers.  Though it can take as long as two years for addiction to develop, some kids can become hooked on nicotine much faster, HealthDay reports.

The task force determined that children and teens could benefit most from counseling and educational programs. Curry says a child's doctor visit is a great place for the anti-smoking message to be driven home.

"It's an opportunity for the child's doctor and parent to communicate as well and for the clinician to provide some help to the parent in reinforcing the message," she says. "Using the influence and respect that youth have for their clinicians is another place where smoking prevention messages can be effective."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Girls Who Smoke at Increased Risk of Osteoporosis?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- If you're a female, and a teenager, and you smoke -- you could be setting yourself up for problems that already affect women disproportionately, according to a new study.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and more prone to break. It's much more common in women than men, and now a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that girls who smoke put themselves at an even greater disadvantage.

Scientists led by Dr. Lorah Dorn at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center studied 262 healthy girls between the ages of 11 and 17 for three years.  Over time, they found that girls who smoke showed decreased bone density, which could lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

The teenage years are crucial in a woman's bone formation because a girl gains as much bone in the first two years surrounding her first menstrual cycle as she loses in the last 40 years as an adult.  Women begin with lower bone density than men, and they lose bone more quickly as they age.  Consequently, the study authors say teen girls shouldn't give the process a head start by smoking.

The study also looked at symptoms of depression and alcohol consumption, and found that depressive symptoms also increase osteoporosis risk, but alcohol has no impact.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Raising Cigarette Tax Could Deter Smoking

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new report by the Congressional Budget Office, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, says raising cigarette taxes by just 50 cents could save lives. The report estimates that if the tax is implemented, 200,000 cigarette-related deaths could be avoided.

Dr. John Spangler with the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Wintston-Salem, N.C. says this method has worked in the past.

"Research has consistently shown that as you raise the cigarette tax, you decrease use," he says. "Every state that has increased their cigarette taxes have noted a drop in cigarette consumption."

"In fact, for every 10-cent increase in cigarette tax, it's been shown that there's a three- to five-percent decrease in cigarette consumption or smoking by both adults and youth," Spangler adds.

But the higher cost may not be enough for some heavily addicted smokers to kick the habit, according to Spangler.  

"To really help them quit and to reduce their tobacco use, you really do need to provide them with smoking cessation devices."

Initially the tax could save about $730 million in federal health care spending dollars, cutting a significant portion of the nation's deficit, according to the CBO report. However, with more people living longer because of this tax, federal spending would eventually be higher than it would have been otherwise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Shows Women Can Extend Life Up to 10 Years by Quitting Smoking

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stop smoking now. That's the take-away from a new study of over a million women conducted over a five-year period.  The study finds that those who give up smoking can extend their life by ten years.  

Epidemiologist Rachel Huxley, an Associate Professor at the School of Public Health, the University of Minnesota, says the women studied were between ages 50 & 65.  The study is significant because while it was known that smoking had an impact on men's health, women started smoking later than men and extensive studies had not been available.
"For the first time we have been able to fully evaluate the full impact of smoking when we haven't been able to do this previously because women simply hadn't been smoking long enough," Huxley says.

For the study, the women were required to complete a questionnaire about lifestyle, medical and social factors and were surveyed again in three years. When any participant died, the researchers were notified and given the participant's cause of death.

Twenty percent of the study's participants were smokers, 28 percent were ex-smokers, and 52 had not smoke.  At the three-year survey, those who were still smokers were three times as likely as non-smokers to to over the next nine years, even though some had stopped smoking for a time during this period.

“If women smoke like men, they die like men – but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra ten years of life," says study co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
The study, which is the largest to date examining the hazards of smoking and the benefits associated with quitting smoking among women, will appear online first in the medical journal The Lancet on Saturday.  

"Everybody can benefit, every smoker, irrespective of age can benefit from quitting smoking," Huxley says, adding, "The sooner individuals stop smoking the better."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cigarette Tax Hike Leads to Historic Drop in Smoking

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A federal tobacco tax hike signed by President Obama just days after he took office in 2009 has resulted in a historic drop in cigarette smokers, according to new analysis by USA Today.

The newspaper, citing surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports that about three million less people smoked last year than in 2009.  The decrease was largely due to the overnight 22 percent price increase in cigarettes in April of that year.

On April 1, 2009, the cigarette tax leaped from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack.  The hike was made to help fund expanded health care for children.

Tax records show the change has raised more than $30 billion in new revenue, USA Today reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marijuana Use Tied to Testicular Cancer Risk

iSrtockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Young men who use marijuana have a higher risk of testicular cancer, a new study found.

The study of 455 Californian men found those who had smoked pot were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with testicular germ cell tumors, the most common form of testicular cancer in men younger than 35.

"Testicular cancer is on the rise," said study author Victoria Cortessis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. "So we asked, 'What is it that young men are doing more frequently that could account for the increased risk?'"

Cortessis and colleagues used interviews to probe recreational drug use among 163 men diagnosed with testicular cancer and 292 healthy men of the same age, and found those who smoked marijuana had double the risk of testicular tumors compared with men who passed on grass. On top of that, their tumors tended to be faster-growing and tougher to treat.

"Most men who get testicular cancer today survive, and that's wonderful. But as a result of treatment, they may have problems with fertility or sexual function," said Cortessis. "So we're talking about the risk of developing the cancer in the first place as well as the subsequent effects of the cancer and its treatment."

The study, published today in the journal Cancer, adds to mounting evidence that smoking marijuana may have lasting effects on men's fertility and overall health.

"We now have three studies connecting marijuana use to testicular cancer, and no studies that contradict them," said Stephen Schwartz, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle and author of the first study linking marijuana use to testicular cancer in 2009. "I think we should start taking notice."

The National Cancer Institute estimates more than 8,500 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2012. About 360 of them will die from it.

But how marijuana affects the risk of testicular cancer is unclear. In animal studies, marijuana smoke and the cannabis chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, reduce levels of circulating hormones like testosterone.

"We know testosterone is an important regulator of testes development and function," said Cortessis. "It may be that marijuana use disrupts this regulation in a way that makes the testes much more vulnerable to cancer."

Cortessis suspects boys who experiment with marijuana during puberty might be particularly susceptible. In her study, the risk of testicular cancer was higher among men who smoked less than once a week and for fewer than 10 years.

"Guys who tried it and abandoned it may have been very young," she said, adding that her study was too small to tease out age-related risks. "We plan to investigate the possibility that men who use marijuana during puberty may be especially vulnerable, which makes sense if marijuana is disrupting the hormone signaling that directs the testes to maturity."

But other factors could be at play, as men who use marijuana are more likely to drink and use other drugs. However, Cortessis found men who used cocaine were actually less likely to develop testicular cancer – a result that might reflect the drug's toxic effects.

"My suspicion is that the effect of cocaine is to kill the germ cells so they're not there," she said, describing how cocaine cuts testicular size and function in mice. "It's more analogous to a mastectomy to reduce the risk of breast cancer. And for a young guy, that would be high price to pay."

Cortessis and Schwartz agree more work is needed to uncover how marijuana use affects testicular cancer risk, but said men "shouldn't assume smoking marijuana has no impact on your health," according to Schwartz.

"I think at this stage of knowledge men deserve to be informed of this," said Cortessis. "It's not a huge body of work, but the results are so consistent that it's very unlikely this is due to chance."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twin Study Shows Moisturizing, Breast Feeding Stall Breast Aging

James Woodson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Breast feeding, daily moisturizing and hormone replacement therapy can make a woman's breasts appear more beautiful, but smoking, drinking alcohol and having multiple pregnancies can take an aesthetic toll, according to researchers.

A study of identical twins published Tuesday in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, titled "Determinants of Breast Appearance and Aging in Twins," shows environmental factors play a key role in how a woman's breasts age.

Other factors like higher body mass index (BMI) and larger bra and cup sizes also contribute to accelerated breast aging, according to the study.

An estimated 316,848 women had breast augmentations and 127,054 had breast lifts performed in 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Now, women can identify lifestyle behaviors that can slow the aging process to avoid surgical intervention, according to the study, which was funded by a grant from the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation.

For the last three years, plastic surgeon Hooman T. Soltanian of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, studied 161 pairs of twins.

"It's very rare that both twins have been through the same exact environmental factors throughout life," he said.  "The idea was that they have the same [breasts] from a genetic standpoint.  If we see a difference, it's more likely to be environmental factors."

Soltanian collected data from consenting women between the ages of 25 and 74 at the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsberg, Ohio.  The average age of the study's participants was 45.5 years old.

"The twins come from all over the country for a weekend to have fun and celebrate," he said.  "We have been using that opportunity to study their breasts.  It's not a longitudinal study, but a cross-sectional study."

The study had two parts.  First, each set of twins was given a questionnaire on lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, number of pregnancies, use of a bra, stress at work, sports, hormone replacement therapy, moisturizing and exposure to the sun.  Each twin answered independently.

Then, photos of the twins' breasts were taken "in a secluded area by professionals."  Those photos were "subjectively evaluated by independent reviewers."

Soltanian acknowledged there is "no objective measurement" for what makes a breast "beautiful."  But researchers looked for skin tone, droopiness, shape and areola size.

Moisturizing seemed an "obvious" advantage on a breast's appearance, showing fewer wrinkles, according to Soltanian.  

Those who received hormone replacement therapy after menopause had more attractive breast shape, size, projection, areolar shape and areolar size.

The study seemed to refute myths about the negative effects of nursing a baby, findings that even surprised Soltanian.  Even though the size and shape of the areola had suffered, the skin quality was better in women who breast fed.

"All these twins did not breast-feed without being pregnant and pregnancy has a negative effect on breast appearance," he said.  "My explanation is that women who breast fed have a different hormonal milieu -- sort of like internal hormone replacement.  So even though those were disadvantages, they gained some benefit."

Soltanian, who does reconstructive surgeries for women after breast cancer, said this twin research could be expanded to longitudinal studies that look for environmental influences when one twin has cancer and the other doesn't.

As for the study's importance, he said, "It's obvious to me that breast appearance and breast health as a whole are a major part of female health."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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