Jun 12, 2009 | 13
After winning sizable majorities in both House and Senate this week, a new bill would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco. President Barack Obama, who has called it a way to "protect our kids and improve our public health," is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
The Office of the Surgeon General issued a report [pdf] back in 1964, asserting that tobacco's "potential hazard is great… cigarette smoking contributes substantially to mortality from certain specific diseases and to the overall death rate." But in the intervening years, the $89 billion tobacco industry has eluded strict regulation. Annually, smoking ups U.S. health care costs $100 billion and continues to kill about 400,000.
Apr 20, 2009 | 6
Quick to light up despite the potential risks? Take note: there may be a way to rapidly predict your chances of developing lung cancer – and provide yet more incentive to kick the habit. Researchers have discovered that smokers who excrete high levels of two tobacco metabolites (chemicals produced when the body breaks down tobacco) in their urine are up to 8.5 times more likely than those who excrete low levels to develop lung cancer.
"If we can identify a smoker with a high level of metabolites, and down the road they have a higher risk of lung cancer, public health workers can get them motivated to quit smoking,” lead researcher Jian-Min Yuan, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, told Bloomberg News.
Apr 7, 2009 | 1
Teens in South Africa have found a new use for efavirenz (brand name Stocrin in South Africa and Sustiva in the U.S.), an antiretroviral drug that prevents HIV from making copies of itself in the body. Instead of using efavirenz as it was intended – to keep the AIDS virus at bay – kids are crushing the pills and smoking the powder to get high, ABC News reports.
When taken as prescribed, efavirenz can cause side effects, including drowsiness and vivid, colorful dreams, but when smoked, it induces hallucinations and is highly addictive. "Once you've first started, there's no turning back," a 17-year-old addict told ABC News.
Apr 2, 2009 | 7
The House today approved a bill that would for the first time give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D–Calif.), passed by a 298-112 vote, culminating a nearly decade-long battle by anti-smoking advocates to grant the FDA regulatory power over the industry. The bill, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, would empower the agency to approve or nix new products and bars companies from adding fruit and other flavors to cigarettes that critics say are aimed at attracting—and hooking—young smokers.
Apr 1, 2009 | 7
House members are expected to approve a bill tonight that would authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), would require the FDA to approve any new tobacco products before they're marketed, and would ban artificial and natural flavoring of cigarettes, other than menthol and tobacco. Critics say candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes were designed to appeal to kids, and the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and 46 state attorneys general barred companies from marketing them with an eye toward getting minors hooked on smokes despite laws that prohibit their sale to anyone under 18.
Feb 18, 2009 | 8
Three years ago, the American Cancer Society (ACS) broke some exciting news: for the first time in decades, U.S. cancer deaths fell. The trend continued the following year. But new research today shows that the milestone has been a mixed bag for one segment of the population, African-Americans. They’re also dying less of cancer—in some cases, their gains are coming at a faster pace than for whites—but the disease still kills them more often.
About 150,000 cancers will be diagnosed in blacks this year, and more than 63,000 African Americans will die of the disease, says a new report from the ACS. Some more numbers: In 1990, 399 per 100,000 African-American men died of cancer; that number fell to 297 per 100,000 by 2005. But white men started off dying less often of cancer than black men did, and also showed an improvement: 272 per 100,000 in 1990, and 223 per 100,000 in 2005.
Feb 11, 2009 | 1
Seventy percent of smokers in the U.S. say they want to quit, but studies show that only 2 percent to 3 percent manage to kick the habit each year. Incentives for quitting—avoiding potentially deadly lung cancer and premature wrinkling, saving thousands of dollars annually (in money spent on cigarettes and medical bills stemming from health-related ills), and perhaps even becoming president of the United States—are just not enough, it seems. Could cash succeed where all else failed?
It just might. Researchers report today in the New England Journal of Medicine that smokers were three times more likely to give up cigarettes in return for a few hundred bucks.
Jan 21, 2009 | 2
Just how many months of life is clean air worth? Five to be precise, according to a new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Who would have thought you could get almost half a year in increased life expectancy on average just from cleaning up our air somewhat?" says study co-author Arden Pope, an environmental economist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "That seems to me like a pretty good investment" in clean-air programs.
Pope and Harvard University colleagues compared improvements in air quality with increased life expectancy between 1980 and 2000. Their findings, based on air-monitoring and health data from 51 U.S. metro areas: five months of the nearly three additional years of life tacked on during that period stemmed from cleaner air.
Nov 18, 2008 | 2
Alaska is making the best use of cigarette taxes and Big Tobacco settlement money distributed to states in the decade after authorities negotiated a deal with the companies over smoking-related health costs incurred by the states, according to a new report released today by a coalition of advocacy groups. South Carolina ranks the worst.
States have received $203.5 billion in tobacco revenue since the Master Settlement Agreement between states’ attorneys general and cigarette makers in 1998. The agreement required the companies to reimburse states for the money they spent treating smoking-related illnesses. It didn’t stipulate how states should spend the funds, but many attorneys general and public health officials said they’d use it and revenue from cigarette taxes to discourage children from smoking. But just over 3 percent of that money – about $65 billion – has been spent on tobacco prevention and treatment programs, according to the report.
Nov 4, 2008 | 1
Voters know a little bit more about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s health as they head to the polls today. According to a two-page letter released by her physician last night, Palin, 44, is in "excellent health and has no known health problems that would interfere with her ability to carry out the duties and obligations of vice president of the United States."
Until now, Americans knew next to nothing about Palin’s health, other than that she gave birth to five children, the youngest of whom was born with Down Syndrome in April. (People with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, and have mental and sometimes physical deficits, including heart abnormalities.) According to Palin's doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, the births were the only time the veep wannabe has been hospitalized.
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