Archive for December, 2015

Happy New Year!

Have a safe, happy and fun New Year’s celebration.

Photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde on Flickr

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Study: E-Cigarette Use Leads To Cell Damage and High Cancer Risk

Many people look to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, but several studies have confirmed that e-cigarettes are no better. Another study recently added to the list of researchers against e-cigarettes.

teen e-cigarette useResearchers at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System revealed via a news release that electronic cigarettes may lead to cellular damage. This occurrence increases the risk of developing cancer. “Our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public,” the researchers said.

The research team conducted lab experiments on human cells by exposing them to e-cigarette vapors from two specific brands. Whether the product was free from nicotine or not, the damage was evident in cells exposed to the vapor, compared with untreated human cells. “We found that other variables can do damage as well. It’s not that the nicotine is completely innocent in the mix, but it looks like the amount of nicotine that the cells are exposed to by e-cigarettes is not sufficient by itself to cause these changes. There must be other components in the e-cigarettes that are doing this damage. So we may be identifying other carcinogenic components that are previously undescribed,” said study co-lead Dr. Jessica Wang-Rodriquez.

Results of the study were published in the journal Oral Oncology.

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Merry Christmas!

Photo courtesy of Nicole Vaughan on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Nicole Vaughan on Flickr

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Marijuana Use Linked To Poor Performance in School

In perhaps a surprise to no one, a recent study published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors revealed that college students who use marijuana are more likely to skip classes, leading to poor grades and delayed graduation.

teen skating marijuanaA team of researchers led by Amelia Arria of the University of Maryland School of Public Health monitored more than 1,100 students in college over a period of 8 years starting from the freshman year of each study participant.

Based on the results of the study, 37 percent of the freshmen admitted to smoking marijuana at least once in the past month. The students’ average use of pot is six days a month.

Furthermore, those who smoked pot had a higher likelihood of skipping classes. The latter translated to lower grades and an extended time before graduating from college. “We think they may be less engaged in college life, and may not be taking advantage of all the opportunities it presents,” Arria said in a news item.

However, NORML deputy director Paul Armentano refused to believe that marijuana causes poor scholastic performance. “Correlation is not causation, and it would not appear that there is anything unique to cannabis that would cause those who experiment with it to skip classes,” he said.

Arria expressed the importance of proper information to students, and especially to parents. “Parents need to know that their investment in college could be compromised by marijuana use,” she added.

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Little Cigars Worsen Rate Of Tobacco Use By Teenagers

A new product seems to have fueled tobacco use in teenagers, based on a recent study by Monitoring the Future.

teen cigarette legal smoking ageSmall cigars called cigarillos are trending in teen socials these days, and these seemingly innocent and milder versions of traditional tobacco products have shot up the rate of tobacco use in teenagers by about 67 percent over just a 30-day period. The results were based on a nationwide survey on more than 40,000 students from 8th to 12th grades in 2015.

Cigarillos are typically wrapped in brown paper, much like its much larger cousin in the form of cigars. These new products contain combusted tobacco and are available in flavors, leading more teenagers to like the product more. “We find that more than 87 percent of adolescents who used cigarillos in the past 30 days used flavored cigarillos,” said Monitoring The Future senior investigator Richard Miech in a news release.

Flavoring in cigarettes has long been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but this restriction does not apply to other tobacco products, including cigarillos.

The group acknowledges the risk of cigarette use in teens as a result of using cigarillos. “If these cigarillo users become addicted to nicotine and go on to become cigarette smokers, then the long-term and hard-fought decline in teen cigarette use may reverse… And even for those who do not transition to cigarette smoking, cigarillo use is already increasing the proportion of American young people being exposed to most of the smoked ingredients in cigarettes,” Miech added.

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey in the U.S. that aims to determine trends in substance abuse by adolescents. The survey is conducted by the University of Michigan and commissioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Teens Exposed To Drug Use Show Immediate Antisocial Behavior

A recent study from Duke University in North Carolina discovered a direct effect of drug use exposure on social behavior in teenagers.

peer prescription drug abuseAlcohol and drug use have always been tied to a number of psychological and behavioral problems, but this new study sheds light into a more specific aspect of teen life. “Past research has shown that children who grow up in families, schools and neighborhoods where alcohol and drugs are frequently used are at risk for behavioral problems later in life, but our findings demonstrate that these effects are immediate,” according to study co-author Candice Odgers, who works for the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

The study, which was published in the journal Development and Psychopathology, tapped more than 150 teens between ages 11 and 15 to answer a month-long survey series. The study participants were asked to answer the questions thrice a day using their mobile phones. “Connecting with kids via their devices provided a unique view into their daily lives and, we hope, more valid data as we were capturing events, experiences and behaviors as they happened,” said study lead author Michael Russell in a news item. The survey results were analyzed to check for patterns in terms of exposure to drug use and tendencies of antisocial behavior.

Results showed that adolescents who witnessed use of drugs were more susceptible to experience antisocial misbehavior such as theft, property damage, and violence. “Our findings support the idea that situations where others are using alcohol or drugs may serve as ‘triggering contexts’ for adolescents’ problem behavior,” the study lead author added.

The findings were more pronounced in study participants who were identified to possess the DRD4-7R genotype, a genetic mark associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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