Even with one cigarette a day, odds of early death are higher
admin • December 6, 2016 • 5791
A man smokes a cigarette along a road in Mumbai, India, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo
Smokers who go through much less than a pack of cigarettes a day still have a higher risk of an early death than non-smokers, a new study suggests.
“There is no safe level of cigarette smoking,” said lead study author Maki Inoue-Choi, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland.
“Even smokers who consistently smoked less than one cigarette per day were more likely to die in our study than never smokers,” Inoue-Choi said by email.
Tobacco smoking poses a major public health challenge and claims about five million lives each year worldwide, researchers note in JAMA Internal Medicine.
A growing number of smokers tend to be “light” smokers, going through less than half a pack of cigarettes a day, the authors write. This used to be how people cut back gradually on the path to quitting, but it’s increasingly a pattern that smokers follow for years at a time.
To get a better picture of the health effects of light smoking, researchers tracked more than 290,000 adults aged 59 to 82, including more than 22,000 current smokers and more than 156,000 former smokers, who completed surveys in 2004 and 2005.
By 2011, compared to people who never smoked, adults who consistently smoked at least part of one cigarette a day were 64 percent more likely to have died of any cause, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Smoking one to 10 cigarettes a day was associated with 87 percent higher odds of dying from all causes during the study than not smoking at all.
Lung cancer deaths in particular were much more likely among light smokers than non-smokers. The odds of death from lung cancer were more than nine times higher with a habit of even one cigarette a day, while smoking up to 10 cigarettes a day was associated with almost 12 times the risk of death from lung cancer.
Former smokers fared better when they quit at younger ages. For example, ex-smokers of one to 10 cigarettes a day who kicked the habit after age 50 had a 42 percent higher risk of death from all causes during the study period, compared to those who kicked the habit at younger ages. One limitation of the study is that researchers relied on participants to accurately recall and report on how often they smoked even may years in the past, the authors note.
“The take home message is that all smokers should stop smoking, even if they smoke only occasionally, or if they smoke very few cigarettes a day,” Jean-Francois Etter, a researcher at the University of Geneva in Switzerland who wasn’t involved in the study, said in an email.
The study also showed very little benefit from cutting back from two packs a day to half a pack a day, said Judith Prochaska, a researcher at Stanford University in California who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Low intensity smokers often downplay their use of tobacco – may even identify as nonsmokers – and may rationalize their behavior as low risk,” Prochaska said by email.
“The findings ought to compel physicians to intervene with patients who report any level of current tobacco use,” Prochaska added. “As a motivating message, the sooner individuals quit smoking, the greater the health benefits in extending years of life.” — Reuters
The U.S. investigation into hundreds of cases of life-threatening lung illnesses related to vaping is turning up new clues and helping researchers across the country trying to make sense of the situation.
Robert Tarran, a physiologist and vaping expert at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, is one of a group of researchers studying collections of lung cell samples, looking for answers about the outbreak.
“In my lab we study real world vapers who vape normally. So we’ve been collecting people who’ve been vaping for six months to a couple of years and then taken their lungs as they are. So I think the people we’ve been studying are representative of people being hospitalized. And I think it’s important to say that in the all the vapers that we’ve studied we’re seeing changes in their lungs,” he told Reuters.
Many of the victims had pockets of oil clogging up cells responsible for removing impurities in the lungs.
The answer to where that oil comes from will help explain whether these cells play a key role in the vaping-related outbreak that has killed atleast seven people and sickened 530 so far.
It may also reveal whether some of these cases have been occurring all along, undetected.
A group of researchers who have been studying the long-term effects of vaping told Reuters they have taken up the challenge. They have begun to re-examine lung cell samples they have collected in recent years for evidence of these oil-filled immune cells in people who vaped but didn’t get sick.
One possibility: The deposits are residue from inhaling vaping oils, such as those containing the marijuana ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or vitamin E acetate. Both are considered possible contributors to the current illnesses.
Some researchers suspect the oils are formed inside the lungs as part of the body’s natural response to chemicals found in many commercial vaping devices. One theory is that vaping these chemicals may impair the immune system, and make people who vape more vulnerable to respiratory distress, they say.
“One of the things we found there is a wide variety some liquids are more toxic than others and we found there is a correlation the more flavors in a liquid the more likely it was to be toxic. But there’s also an incredible diversity of flavors. So in 150 e-liquids we found about 200 different chemical constituents. And so really the flavors e-liquid really are all over the map,” Tarrant said.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation earlier this month has fueled the latter theory.
It found that mice exposed to aerosols of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin – common solvents used in conventional nicotine vaping devices – developed these same fat-clogged immune cells even though they were never exposed to vaping oils. These mice also had impaired immune systems compared to mice exposed to room air.
The study set off alarm bells for Thomas Eissenberg, co-director of the Center for Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University. For years, doctors have reported isolated cases of pneumonia-like illnesses in people who vaped. In many cases, patients also had these fat-filled immune cells – called lipid-laden macrophages.
Now, these same abnormalities have been found in mice, and in at least some of the people who have fallen ill recently.
They want to help determine is whether these abnormalities have been present for years, and whether they have made vapers generally more vulnerable to severe disease, possibly triggered by some new vaping substance.
The group’s members say they have been in regular contact with officials at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health on how they can best help with the multistate investigation.
They include Tarran, a physiologist and vaping expert at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Dr. Peter Shields, a lung cancer specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, who has one of the country’s largest sets of lung samples from vapers, smokers and never-smokers.
Investigators at the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have pointed to THC vaping oils or vitamin E, a substance used in some THC products, as a possible cause of these illnesses. But they have not ruled out anything yet, including conventional nicotine liquids.
“So we’ve been able to break some of our studies down to study just the nicotine or the solvent the propane glycol vegetable glycerin. And we’ve been finding changes due to both of these components. So we can help identify things in any liquids which are having these effects and then potentially we could extend these studies and study cannabinoids or the vitamin E oils,” Tarrant said.
CDC pathologists are examining hundreds of lung cell samples gathered from patients in the outbreak. Meanwhile, forensic chemists at the FDA are testing more than 120 products to determine whether there is a common ingredient that may explain the illnesses. (REUTERS)
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FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows cigarettes in their pack, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Illustration
Fewer people are smoking worldwide, especially women, but only one country in eight is on track to meet a target of reducing tobacco use significantly by 2025, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (May 30).
Three million people die prematurely each year due to tobacco use, which causes cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks and stroke, Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, said during the launch of the organization’s global report on trends in the prevalence of tobacco smoking.
Some 890,000 of the deaths result from second-hand smoke exposure.
Progress is uneven, with the Americas being the only region set to meet the U.N. target of reducing tobacco use by 30 percent by 2025.
Parts of Western Europe have reached a “standstill”, particularly due to a failure to get women to stop smoking, while African men are lagging, and tobacco use in the Middle East is actually set to increase, Bettcher said.
Overall, tobacco kills more than 7 million a year by causing a higher risk of cancer and heart disease. But many smokers in China and India are unaware of these health impacts, Bettcher said.
The two Asian powerhouses have the highest numbers of smokers worldwide, accounting for 307 million and 106 million, respectively, of the world’s 1.1 billion adult smokers, followed by Indonesia with 74 million, WHO figures show. — Reuters
One of the new graphic health warning that will appear to cigarette packs
MANILA, Philippines — The Republic Act No. 10643 or Graphic Health Warning Law mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to release new graphic health warning labels for cigarette packs in every two years.
DOH released the new templates on March 3 .
The new templates show the health dangers of smoking cigarettes such as gangrene, emphysema, neck cancer, mouth cancer, asthma, still and premature birth.
“The old ones are saturated already and they’re somehow numb so they just ignore those old graphic warnings. So part of the strategy is to ensure that you have new graphic health warnings each time,” said health chief, Francisco Duque.
The Graphic Health Warning Law states that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will be the lead agency to monitor and implement the said law especially in terms of imposing taxes.
“We set it on March 3 and the monitoring and the implementation are supposed to be done by BIR, in terms of taxes,” said DOH Usec. Eric Domingo.
Based on the figures of the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 1.4 billion smokers worldwide, and 4.9 million die yearly due to smoking.
The DOH figures show that 240 Filipino smokers die every day.
The health department is hoping that the implementation of the said law will help lower the cases of respiratory illnesses and death cases due to smoking. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue
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