Not all young people believe that cigar smoking is bad for you

Newswise — CHAPEL HILL, NC – A majority of adolescents in the United States report current cigar warning labels to be very believable, according to a new study conducted by doctors and researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. But significant differences exist in the believability of specific cigar warnings, suggesting that more work is needed to establish the best warnings to dissuade youth from smoking cigars.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, included a national phone survey of 1,125 adolescents from ages 13 to 17. The survey presented individuals with one of three current cigar health warnings that specifically isolate the risk of cigar smoke:

• Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale
• Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease.
• Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.

The surveyors then asked a number of questions about the believability of the warnings. Three quarters (76.7 percent) of all respondents found it very believable that “cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease,” while just 53.4 percent found it very believable that “cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale” and only 49.8 percent found it very believable that “cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”

Respondents were classified as either susceptible – meaning they had used a cigarette or expressed interest in trying one – or non-susceptible. About 17 percent of those surveyed were classified as “susceptible.” Adolescents susceptible to using cigarettes were significantly less likely to report the cigar warnings to be very believable. The potential source of the cigar warning (FDA, CDC, the Surgeon General, or none) did not impact surveyors’ answers, nor did their race, age, or sex.

Studies have shown that cigars are one of the most common tobacco products among adolescents in the U.S., with one in 12 adolescents reporting current use of a cigar product.

“This is the first research that has been done to track how young people perceive cigars warning labels,” said Sarah Kowitt, doctoral candidate at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and lead author of the study.

“Adolescents may be misguided about the safety of cigar use,” said Adam O. Goldstein, MD, MPH, study co-author, professor of family medicine, and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Many still believe that risks of cigars can be mitigated by not inhaling or inhaling less. But we know that cigar smoking can cause serious harm, including cancer and heart disease.”

Historically, most tobacco prevention campaigns have been aimed at cigarettes. Some states, such as Maryland, have rolled out cigar-specific campaigns that may help dismantle cigar myths among youth.

While the current cigar warnings were mostly seen as believable, Goldstein said that further study is needed, especially on the impact of graphic cigar warnings in addition to text. Also, the UNC researchers suggest continued study to develop warnings that have the maximum impact on susceptible adolescents.

Some countries, such as Australia, have begun this work. “In Australia, warnings include pictorial representations, which may engage adolescents more effectively,” Goldstein said.

Other UNC researchers on the study include Kristen Jarman, MSPH, and Leah Ranney PhD.

This research was supported by grant number P50CA180907 from the National Cancer Institute and FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).

Posted in Smoking | Comments Off on Not all young people believe that cigar smoking is bad for you

Do Most Mount Everest Climbers Use Medications, and Should They?

The ethics of using medications to improve performance and increase the likelihood of success in high-altitude climbing remains a controversial topic, and a new study that asked climbers of Mount Everest their opinions and assessed their use of medications and oxygen provides new insights in an article published in High Altitude Medicine & Biology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers ( The article is available free online on the High Altitude Medicine & Biology ( website until January 11, 2017.

The article “Medication Use Among Mount Everest Climbers: Practice and Attitudes (” is coauthored by Andrew Luks, MD, University of Washington, Seattle, Colin Grissom, MD, Intermountain Medical Center and the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Luanne Freer, MD, Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman, MT and Himalayan Rescue Association Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic, Nepal, and Peter Hackett, MD, University of Colorado, Denver, and Institute for Altitude Medicine, Telluride, CO.

The researchers report that less than half of the climbers surveyed reported using medications on climbs. The most commonly used medication was acetazolamide to prevent altitude sickness.

“This article by Luks et al. and another recent article by a group on Mt Blanc in the French Alps, in which drug levels were measured in urine collected from a common toilet used by many climbers on the way to the summit, give independent and confirmatory data that drug use by mountaineers is mostly and appropriately for altitude illness prophylaxis and sleep quality, and not for performance enhancement or recreational pleasure,” says Erik R. Swenson, MD, Editor-in-Chief of High Altitude Medicine & Biology and Professor, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Veterans Administration Puget Sound Healthcare System. “Rumors of rampant drug abuse appear to be disproven.”


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4 ways to have an environmentally green Christmas

‘Tis the season … to stuff our landfills as full as our stockings?

The holiday season is full of joy and gifts and parties, but it doesn’t have to be so wasteful. Here’s how you can make a few eco-friendly changes and reduce your environmental impact, without sacrificing the fa-la-la.


Eco-friendly gifts come in all shapes, sizes and price points, and are perfect for anyone on your shopping list. There’s an eco-alternative to just about any conventional gift idea!

Choose from fair-trade, handmade, recycled, upcycled, sustainably produced, vintage/secondhand, reusable, organic, vegan and chemical-free products, or intangible experiences.

Supporting locally owned businesses and brands is a great way to support our economy. Continue the momentum from Small Business Saturday and shop local for many of your Christmas gifts.

Wrapping gifts

First things first: most wrapping paper and tissue paper are not reusable! Shiny, glittery and waxy wrapping paper is often made with metallic foil and plastic, and tissue paper is too thin to go through the sorting process.

So instead, use recyclable white or brown craft paper or bags, and for extra flair, customize the wrapped gift with stamps, or choose holiday-printed craft paper. Bonus: it’s less expensive than fancy gift wrap. Or, to be thrifty, reuse newspaper for wrapping or tissue paper — in fact, I would be honored if you reused this column to wrap or package someone’s Christmas gift!


Posted in Environmental Health: Sustainability | Comments Off on 4 ways to have an environmentally green Christmas

Cholesterol-fighting drugs lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

The incidence of Alzheimer’s was reduced for beneficiaries frequently prescribed statins (high users), compared to low users, researchers find

Common anti-cholesterol drugs show promise for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a USC-led study of Medicare data reveals.

The new study shows that, based on a sample of 399,979 Medicare beneficiaries, men and women who took statins two years or more lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s in the period spanning 2009 to 2013.

The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease was reduced for beneficiaries frequently prescribed statins (high users), compared to low users, USC and University of Arizona researchers found. Among women who were high users, the incidence rate was 15 percent lower. Among men, the rate was 12 percent lower.

Researchers noted that black men were the only group that did not show a statistically significant reduction in risk, likely due to sample size.

“We may not need to wait for a cure to make a difference for patients currently at risk of the disease.  Existing drugs, alone or in combination, may affect Alzheimer’s risk,” said lead and corresponding author Julie Zissimopoulos, associate director of the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and assistant professor at USC Price School of Public Policy.


Posted in Alzheimer's, Cholesterol | Comments Off on Cholesterol-fighting drugs lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Telemedicine for PTSD no less effective than in-person therapy

(Reuters Health) – Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have difficulties making it to in-person therapy sessions may be able to get treatment that’s just as good by videoconference.

Researchers compared home-delivered prolonged exposure therapy – which helps patients confront memories and situations that trigger their symptoms – to the same treatment given in U.S. Veterans Affairs clinics, and found no difference in effectiveness.

“The best treatment for PTSD, with the most empirical support, can be delivered at no loss of effectiveness, directly into a veteran’s home, rather than having the veteran come into clinic,” lead study author Ron Acierno told Reuters Health by email.

“We can now save the travel time and bring the treatment right to them” if a veteran lives too far away to attend 12 to 15 weekly sessions, can’t take off work or feels stigmatized coming into the clinic, said Acierno, a psychologist and researcher with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

For the study, published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, Acierno and colleagues recruited 132 veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD, 127 of them men.




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Study links nutrition to brain health and intelligence in older adults

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A study of older adults links consumption of a pigment found in leafy greens to the preservation of “crystallized intelligence,” the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime.

The study is reported in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Lutein (LOO-teen) is one of several plant pigments that humans acquire through the diet, primarily by eating leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, or egg yolks, said University of Illinois graduate student Marta Zamroziewicz, who led the study with Illinois psychology professor Aron Barbey. Lutein accumulates in the brain, embedding in cell membranes, where it likely plays “a neuroprotective role,” she said.

“Previous studies have found that a person’s lutein status is linked to cognitive performance across the lifespan,” Zamroziewicz said. “Research also shows that lutein accumulates in the gray matter of brain regions known to underlie the preservation of cognitive function in healthy brain aging.”

The study enrolled 122 healthy participants aged 65 to 75 who solved problems and answered questions on a standard test of crystallized intelligence. Researchers also collected blood samples to determine blood serum levels of lutein and imaged participants’ brains using MRI to measure the volume of different brain structures.

The team focused on parts of the temporal cortex, a brain region that other studies suggest plays a role in the preservation of crystallized intelligence.

The researchers found that participants with higher blood serum levels of lutein tended to do better on tests of crystallized intelligence. Serum lutein levels reflect only recent dietary intakes, Zamroziewicz said, but are associated with brain concentrations of lutein in older adults, which reflect long-term dietary intake.

Those with higher serum lutein levels also tended to have thicker gray matter in the parahippocampal cortex, a brain region that, like crystallized intelligence, is preserved in healthy aging, the researchers report.

“Our analyses revealed that gray-matter volume of the parahippocampal cortex on the right side of the brain accounts for the relationship between lutein and crystallized intelligence,” Barbey said. “This offers the first clue as to which brain regions specifically play a role in the preservation of crystallized intelligence, and how factors such as diet may contribute to that relationship.”

“Our findings do not demonstrate causality,” Zamroziewicz said. “We did find that lutein is linked to crystallized intelligence through the parahippocampal cortex.”

“We can only hypothesize at this point how lutein in the diet affects brain structure,” Barbey said. “It may be that it plays an anti-inflammatory role or aids in cell-to-cell signaling. But our finding adds to the evidence suggesting that particular nutrients slow age-related declines in cognition by influencing specific features of brain aging.”


Barbey is an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I.

The research team also included Beckman Institute postdoctoral researchers Erick Paul and Chris Zwilling; psychology professor Neal Cohen, also at Beckman; Elizabeth Johnson, of Tufts University; and Matthew Kuchan, of Abbott Nutrition.

Abbott Nutrition supported this work through the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory at the U. of I. in Urbana-Champaign.



Posted in Nutrition is Medicine | Comments Off on Study links nutrition to brain health and intelligence in older adults

Trumpville 2017: US rural babies’ opioid withdrawal HUGE

The rates of babies in rural American areas born with symptoms of opioid withdrawal has skyrocketed, illustrating another symptom of the ongoing opioid epidemic spreading through parts of the United States.

Rural babies and mothers with opoid-related conditions are more likely than urban ones to come from lower-income families, and have public insurance, according to a new study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Out of every 1,000 babies born in 2004, about 1.2 were born with opioid withdrawal, which, in babies, is called neonatal abstinence syndrome. By 2013, that number increased about to 7.5 per 1,000 hospital births among rural infants.

This far outpaces the jump in cases among urban babies, which were 1.4 per 1,000 urban babies in 2004 to and only 4.8 per 1,000 in 2013.

The number of hospital deliveries complicated by opioid use among rural mothers also jumped from 1.3 per 1,000 to 8.1 per 1,000.

“This geographic disparity highlights the urgent need for policymakers to appropriate funding for clinicians and programs that could improve access to opioid prevention and treatment services for rural women and children,” the researchers wrote in their study.


Posted in Human Behavior: Political, Politics: Election of 2016 | 1 Comment

Emerging trends in alcohol binge and use disorders among older adults

Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance among older adults, and this group can have unique risks associated with alcohol consumption — in even lower amounts — compared to younger persons.

“Older adults have particular vulnerabilities to alcohol due to physiological changes during aging, including increasing chronic disease burden and medication use,” said Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, a geriatrician and health services researcher at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) and in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYU Langone). “However, no recent studies have estimated trends in alcohol use, including binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders among older adults.”

To address the lack of research, Dr. Han and his team examined data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (years 2005 to 2014) in a paper published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Trends of self-reported past-month binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorder were examined among adults age 50 and older. The researchers found significant increases in past-year alcohol use, past-month alcohol use, past-month binge drinking, and alcohol use disorders. The paper, “Demographic trends of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders among older adults in the United States, 2005-2014.” Published on-line 12 December 2016.

Results also suggest that while men had a higher prevalence of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders than women, binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorder increased among women in this nationally representative sample.

“As females age, they tend to experience a larger impact of physiological changes in lean body mass compared to men,” commented Dr. Han. “Thus, they may experience the adverse effects associated with consuming alcohol even in lower amounts.”

“The increase in binge drinking among older women is particularly alarming” said Dr. Palamar, PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone. “Both men and women are at risk for getting themselves into risky sexual situations while drinking, but women are at particularly high risk.” Dr. Palamar also stated that “heavy drinking can not only have unintended health consequences, but it can also lead to socially embarrassing or regretful behavior.”

For the researchers, the results also raise public health concerns, given the significant increases in binge alcohol use among older adults who reported “fair/poor” health and/or multiple chronic conditions. This population is particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol as it can impact chronic disease management or increase the risk of injury.

“Health care providers need to be made aware of this increasing trend of unhealthy alcohol use, particularly among older females, and ensure that screening for unhealthy alcohol use is part of regular medical care for this population” said Dr. Han.


Researcher Affiliations: Benjamin H. Han1,2, Alison A. Moore3, Scott Sherman1,4, Katherine M. Keyes5, Joseph J. Palamar2,4

1. New York University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, 550 First Avenue, BCD 615, New York, NY 10016

2. Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York University Rory College of Nursing, 433 First Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10010.

3. University of California, San Diego, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, 9500Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093

4. New York University Langone Medical Center, Department of Population Health, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016

5. Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, 722 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032

This project was funded, in part, by the NIH (K01 DA-038800, PI: Palamar).


Posted in Alcohol, Alcoholism, Elder Abuse | Comments Off on Emerging trends in alcohol binge and use disorders among older adults

Help Change the Direction of Mental Health

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services and Marla Hendriksson, M.P.M., Director, SAMHSA Office of Communications

Mental health does not discriminate, whether an adolescent, teen, or young adult. Our youth are involved within communities where they initiate growth, lead and contribute. However, in many cases, some youth face additional challenges which can take a toll on their well-being. Emotional pain can be hard to spot—and even harder to talk about.

Today’s youth can sometimes feel fear of embarrassment for seeking or receiving behavioral health treatment services. Our adolescents, teens, and young adults may be struggling and not recognize the signs, or they may not feel comfortable asking for help.

But the fact is, one in five people in the U.S. has a mental health condition—this affects us all. There is no health without mental health, so it’s important that we learn the five signsExternal Web Site Policy of emotional distress and how to help. An estimated 1.2 million youths aged 12 to 17 in 2015 who had a major depressive episode received treatment for depression.

Recognizing and treating emotional distress among youth is critically important not only to our nation’s health, but also to our nation’s youth and future generation. Together, we can change the conversation on mental health in America and help our youth get the treatment and support they need to succeed at home, at school, and in the community.

SAMHSA, along with its partner Give an Hour, is proud to release a new collection of public service announcements (PSAs) for the Campaign to Change DirectionExternal Web Site Policy. These PSAs aim to change the culture of mental health in America by raising awareness about the signs of emotional distress and addressing common barriers to understanding these conditions.

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Health: Anxiety, Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder, Mental Health: Borderline Personality Disorder, Mental Health: Depression, Mental Health: Personality Disorders, Mental Health: Psychosis, Mental Health: Psychotherapy | Comments Off on Help Change the Direction of Mental Health

7 Ways People Quit Their Jobs

Resignation styles could tell HR something about managers, company culture

There are seven ways people quit their jobs, and there are two key factors that determine whether a person resigns in a positive way or in a manner that could have damaging consequences for an employer, according to recent research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The two key factors are whether employees feel they’re being treated fairly at work and whether they feel their boss respects them, said Anthony C. Klotz, an assistant professor in the College of Business at Oregon State University and lead researcher of the study. Workers who feel they are respected and treated fairly are more likely to resign in a positive manner.

This research was funded, in part, by a dissertation grant awarded to Klotz from the HR division of the Academy of Management and the SHRM Foundation.

Considerable research has been done on why and when employees resign, but studies about how employees resign are relatively new.

Klotz conducted a series of studies with co-author Mark C. Bolino, professor at the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma, which included interviews with employees and employers. The researchers found that, generally, employees choose one of these seven resignations:


Posted in Human Behavior: Relationships, Workplace Issues | Comments Off on 7 Ways People Quit Their Jobs

Antipsychotics up mortality risk among Alzheimer’s patients

Antipsychotic drug use is associated with a 60 percent increased risk of mortality among persons with Alzheimer’s disease, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. The risk was highest at the beginning of drug use and remained increased in long-term use. Use of two or more antipsychotic drugs concomitantly was associated with almost two times higher risk of mortality than monotherapy. The results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study compared the risk of mortality between the most commonly used antipsychotic drugs. Haloperidol was associated with highest risk of mortality, and the use of higher doses of haloperidol and risperidone were associated with an increased risk of mortality compared with low-dose risperidone use.

The association of antipsychotic drug use with mortality was investigated in the Finnish nationwide MEDALZ study including community-dwelling persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 2005 and 2011. Of 57,755 persons, 27% started antipsychotic drug use during the follow-up. The register-based study was restricted to persons who did not use antipsychotics during the year preceding the start of follow-up, did not have history of a psychiatric disorder, and did not have active cancer at the start of follow-up.

The results of this study are in line with many previous studies. The first warnings of an increased risk of mortality among antipsychotic users were issued over 10 years ago. This study provides new knowledge on the risk of mortality during long-term use and during concomitant use of two or more antipsychotic drugs.

The study confirms current recommendations that antipsychotic drugs should be used only for the most difficult behavioural symptoms of dementia, such as agitation and aggression, and the duration of use should be limited. Furthermore, the lowest effective doses are recommended, and concomitant use of two or more antipsychotics should be avoided.


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Costs vary for moisturizers used to ease eczema in babies

Without good information on how well different nonprescription skin creams work for infant eczema, parents may want to try petroleum jelly first because it tends to be cheapest, a recent study suggests.

Up to one in five children develop eczema at some point, and half of them get this inflammatory skin condition as babies. The condition can lead to rashes, itchy skin and infections when kids scratch, and it’s also linked to other health problems like asthma, allergies, sleep disorders, developmental delays and behavior issues.

Doctors often tell parents to cover babies head to toe in moisturizers to prevent flare-ups and soothe inflamed skin.

For the current study, researchers examined the cost per ounce of Vaseline petroleum jelly and other non-prescription options such as Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream and Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream.

“Petroleum jelly is an extremely effective moisturizer,” said lead study author Dr. Shuai Xu, a dermatology researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago. “It also happens to be one of the most affordable.”

While adults may not want to coat their whole body with petroleum jelly because it’s messy and greasy, babies won’t care much about getting their clothes dirty, Xu added by email. This product also tends to be free of artificial fragrances or preservatives that can act as irritants or allergens in the future.




Posted in Allergies, Asthma, Dermatology: Eczema, Pediatric Health: Sleep | Comments Off on Costs vary for moisturizers used to ease eczema in babies