Archive for September, 2011

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According to a new paper.
Tobacco companies knew that cigarette smoke contained radioactive alpha particles for more than four decades and developed “deep and intimate” knowledge of these particles’ cancer-causing potential, but they deliberately kept their findings from the public, according to a new study by UCLA researchers.

The analysis of dozens of previously unexamined internal tobacco industry documents, made available in 1998 as the result of a legal settlement, reveals that the industry was aware of cigarette radioactivity some five years earlier than previously thought and that tobacco companies, concerned about the potential lung cancer risk, began in-depth investigations into the possible effects of radioactivity on smokers as early as the 1960s.

“The documents show that the industry was well aware of the presence of a radioactive substance in tobacco as early as 1959,” the authors write. “Furthermore, the industry was not only cognizant of the potential ‘cancerous growth’ in the lungs of regular smokers, but also did quantitative radiobiological calculations to estimate the long-term lung radiation absorption dose of ionizing alpha particles emitted from cigarette smoke.” The study, published online Sept. 27 in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, adds to a growing body of research detailing the industry’s knowledge of cigarette smoke radioactivity and its efforts to suppress that information.

“They knew that the cigarette smoke was radioactive way back then and that it could potentially result in cancer, and they deliberately kept that information under wraps,” said the study’s first author, Hrayr S. Karagueuzian, a professor of cardiology who conducts research at UCLA’s Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, part of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Specifically, we show here that the industry used misleading statements to obfuscate the hazard of ionizing alpha particles to the lungs of smokers and, more importantly, banned any and all publication on tobacco smoke radioactivity.”

The radioactive substance — which the UCLA study shows was first brought to the attention of the tobacco industry in 1959 — was identified in 1964 as the isotope polonium-210, which emits carcinogenic alpha radiation. Polonium-210 can be found in all commercially available domestic and foreign cigarette brands, Karagueuzian said, and is absorbed by tobacco leaves through naturally occurring radon gas in the atmosphere and through high-phosphate chemical fertilizers used by tobacco growers. The substance is eventually inhaled by smokers into the lungs.

The study outlines the industry’s growing concerns about the cancer risk posed by polonium-210 inhalation and the research that industry scientists conducted over the decades to assess the radioactive isotope’s potential effect on smokers — including one study that quantitatively measured the potential lung burden from radiation exposure in a two-pack-a-day smoker over a two-decade period.

The cigarette companies knew about the lung cancer causing radiation, studied it and said nothing. And. despite knowing about the risk to its customers, declined to adopt techniques that could have helped eliminate the polonium-210 from the tobacco.

Despite the potential risk of lung cancer, tobacco companies declined to adopt a technique discovered in 1959 and then another developed in 1980 that could have helped eliminate polonium-210 from tobacco, the researchers said. The 1980 technique, known as an acid-wash, was found to be highly effective in removing the radioisotope from tobacco plants, where it forms a water-insoluble complex with the sticky, hair-like structures called trichomes that cover the leaves.

And while the industry frequently cited concerns over the cost and the possible environmental impact as rationales for not using the acid wash, UCLA researchers uncovered documents that they say indicate the real reason may have been far different.

“The industry was concerned that the acid media would ionize the nicotine, making it more difficult to be absorbed into the brains of smokers and depriving them of that instant nicotine rush that fuels their addiction,” Karagueuzian said. “The industry also were well aware that the curing of the tobacco leaves for more than a one-year period also would not eliminate the polonium-210, which has a half-life of 135 days, from the tobacco leaves because it was derived from its parent, lead-210, which has a half-life of 22 years.”

The Food and Drug Administration under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act should force the cigarette companies to cleanse their product of these radioactive isotopes, emitting alpha particles.

Period.

Frankly, I don’t care if their product doesn’t deliver the nicotine kick or keeps their customers addicted. I do care that people are dying needlessly because of lung cancer caused by the product.

Karagueuzian said the earliest causal link between alpha particles and cancer was made in around 1920, when alpha particle-emitting radium paint was used to paint luminescent numbers on watch dials. The painting was done by hand, and the workers commonly used their lips to produce a point on the tip of the paint brush. Many workers accumulated significant burdens of alpha particles through ingestion and absorption of radium-226 into the bones and subsequently developed jaw and mouth cancers. The practice was eventually discontinued.

Another example involves liver cancer in patients exposed to chronic low-dose internal alpha particles emitted from the poorly soluble deposits of thorium dioxide after receiving the contrast agent Thorotrast. It has been suggested that the liver cancers resulted from point mutations of the tumor suppressor gene p53 by the accumulated alpha particles present in the contrast media. The use of Thorotrast as contrast agent was stopped in the 1950s.

Here is the abstract of the paper.

Introduction: To determine the tobacco industry’s policy and action with respect to radioactive polonium 210 (210Po) in cigarette smoke and to assess the long-term risk of lung cancer caused by alpha particle deposits in the lungs of regular smokers.

Methods: Analysis of major tobacco industries’ internal secret documents on cigarette radioactivity made available online by the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.

Results:
The documents show that the industry was well aware of the presence of a radioactive substance in tobacco as early as 1959. Furthermore, the industry was not only cognizant of the potential “cancerous growth” in the lungs of regular smokers but also did quantitative radiobiological calculations to estimate the long-term (25 years) lung radiation absorption dose (rad) of ionizing alpha particles emitted from the cigarette smoke. Our own calculations of lung rad of alpha particles match closely the rad estimated by the industry. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the industry’s and our estimate of long-term lung rad of alpha particles causes 120–138 lung cancer deaths per year per 1,000 regular smokers. Acid wash was discovered in 1980 to be highly effectively in removing 210Po from the tobacco leaves; however, the industry avoided its use for concerns that acid media would ionize nicotine converting it into a poorly absorbable form into the brain of smokers thus depriving them of the much sought after instant “nicotine kick” sensation.

Conclusions:
The evidence of lung cancer risk caused by cigarette smoke radioactivity is compelling enough to warrant its removal.

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According to a new study.
A new study shows that 145,000 deaths could be averted in the next 30 years in the Netherlands by implementing stronger tobacco control policies. This set of policies, as recommended by the MPOWER report of the World Health Organisation, consists of increasing tobacco taxes to 70% of the retail price, bans on smoking in workplaces and public places, a complete marketing ban, well-funded tobacco control campaigns, graphic health warnings, youth access laws, and comprehensive cessation treatment.

The study, published online September 26 in the journal Addiction, is an output of the European Commission funded project “Pricing Policies and Control of Tobacco in Europe” and uses the SimSmoke Tobacco Control Policy Simulation Model. Developer of the SimSmoke Model Dr David Levy, from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: “The implementation of MPOWER recommended policies could be expected to show similar or even larger effects in other countries which currently have weaker policies than the Netherlands.”

Just increasing taxes and using the funds for an educational campaign would probably work as well as any method.

But, if we can reduce smoking, we will have our friends and family with us for just that much longer.

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This is me finishing the Disneyland Half Marathon

Are you only as old as you run?
Success in running is not just a mental feat, of course, it’s physical, too. And the good news is that science backs up the cliché that age doesn’t matter, or at least doesn’t matter that much.

A few years ago researchers at the German Sports University Cologne took a close look at the finishing times of 400,000 marathon and half-marathon runners between the ages of 20 and 79. They found no relevant differences in the finishing times of people between the ages of 20 and 50. The times for runners between 50 and 69 slowed only by 2.6 to 4.4 percent per decade. “Older athletes are able to maintain a high degree of physiological plasticity late into life,” the researchers wrote.

That might explain in part why the running world is growing, and growing older. The number of runners who finished marathons in the United States, where 7 of the world’s 15 largest races took place last year, increased to 507,000 in 2010 from 25,000 in 1976, according to RunningUSA , an organization that promotes the industry.

In 1980, the median age for a marathon runner was 34 for men and 31 for women. By last year, the age had risen to 40 for men and 35 for women. People over 40 now comprise 46 percent of finishers, up from 26 percent in 1980.

This piece gives some solace to those runners like me who came to the sport late in life and whose physical prowess has perhaps declined due to the aging process. There is hope – I can accept a 5% decline.

Maybe my better PR’s (personal records) are yet to come.

I will continue to work on my diet, nutrition and training. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon at age 70 may not be an unreasonable goal.

So, come out and join me.

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Yes, according to a new study.
This study evaluated the association between body mass index (BMI) and periodontal condition in a population of Brazilian women. A hospital convenience sample of 594 eligible women was recruited from a women’s health reference center of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Four groups were formed considering BMI levels: BMI normal group (n = 352), overweight (n = 54), obesity level I (n = 48), obesity level II (n = 56), and obesity level III (n = 74). Full-mouth periodontal examination was performed and biological, demographic, and behavioral risk variables were evaluated. Obese and overweight women showed statistically significant differences in bleeding on probing, probing depth and clinical attachment level ≥4 mm, and frequency of periodontitis (p < 0.05) compared to women showing normal BMI. The final multivariate model for the occurrence of periodontitis revealed that obesity groups were significantly associated with periodontitis. In addition, age (25-45), smoking, diabetes, and hypertension remained significantly associated with the occurrence of periodontitis (p < 0.05). Periodontitis was positively associated with obesity, and this association was more evident as obesity levels increases. These findings indicate the need for early diagnosis and the inclusion of periodontal care in health care programs for obese women.

Periodontal disease is looking like another complication related to obesity.

So, please, watch your diet and exercise regularly.

Your body will really thank you for your diligence.

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Well, they can reduce the bacteria that lead to dental caries (tooth decay) according to a new study.
Sugar-free lollipops containing licorice root extract significantly reduced the bacteria that causes tooth decay, specifically among pre-school children with high-risk of tooth decay, according to a recent study published in the European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

The study, funded by the Research and Data Institute of the affiliated companies of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Mexico and North Carolina, analyzed 66 preschool students ages 2 to 5 enrolled in a Head Start Program in Lansing, Mich. For three weeks, each student received an orange-flavored, sugarless lollipop for 10 minutes, twice daily.

Researchers said they were motivated to conduct the survey by the high number of children who face dental decay and cavities. According to Jed Jacobson D.D.S., M.S., M.P.H., chief science officer at Delta Dental, dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases, with more than half of children ages 5 to 17 having had at least one cavity or filling.

“We are working to find simple, effective regimens that will encourage prevention and control of dental disease,” he said.

Study results showed a significant reduction in Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), the primary bacteria responsible for tooth decay, during the three-week period when the lollipops were being used and lasting for an additional 22 days before beginning to rebound.

If this works, why not?

But, the task may be to get the children to suck on the licorice versus chocolate or other caries causing candy.

The lollipops, manufactured by Dr. John’s Candies of Grand Rapids, Mich., were developed using FDA-approved materials by Dr. Wenyuan Shi, a microbiologist at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), and C3 Jian, Inc., a research and development company in California.

There are approximately 700 types of bacteria in the human mouth. While most are harmless, S. mutans is considered the primary culprit in tooth decay. They live in a biofilm (plaque) that adheres to the teeth, consume sugar and release acid that erodes tooth enamel, causing decay. Regular brushing and flossing, along with dental checkups, can help keep S. mutans and Lactobacillus casei in check.

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