Health and Fitness

It's Never Too Late To Quit Smoking And Save Your Vision, Finds Study Of AMD In Elderly Women

Need a little extra incentive to kick the habit? Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a UCLA study finds that even after age 80, smoking continues to increase one's risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65. The American Journal of Ophthalmology publishes the findings in its January edition. "The take-home message is that it's never too late to quit smoking, " said lead author Dr. Anne Coleman, professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. "We found that even older people's eyes will benefit from kicking the habit." AMD causes progressive damage to the macula, the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details. When the macula degenerates, people experience darkness or blurring in their central vision, preventing them from being able to read, drive and recognize faces. After age, smoking is the second most common risk factor for AMD. This study sought to determine whether age influences the effects of smoking on AMD risk.

CMS And ONC Issue Regulations Proposing A Definition Of Meaningful Use And Setting Standards For Electronic Health Record

The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) encourage public comment on two regulations issued today that lay a foundation for improving quality, efficiency and safety through meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. The regulations will help implement the EHR incentive programs enacted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). A proposed rule issued by CMS outlines proposed provisions governing the EHR incentive programs, including defining the central concept of "meaningful use" of EHR technology. An interim final regulation (IFR) issued by ONC sets initial standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology. Both regulations are open to public comment. "Widespread adoption of electronic health records holds great promise for improving health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety, " said, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal, M.

New YearВ s Promises To Quit Smoking Can Be Achieved With Good Planning

New Year's resolutions often include quitting smoking. An essential factor in fulfilling this resolution is good planning according to AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce. Dr Pesce explained: "Giving up smoking is a common New Year's resolution, and with good planning smokers can increase their chances of successfully quitting smoking forever." "There are many ways to quit smoking and different methods will suit different people. For advice and support, see your GP who can talk you through the different methods and help with an approach that is best suited to you. The Quitline is also a good source of information. It can be contacted online." After quitting smoking, the health benefits are immediate. Dr Pesce explained that the risk of disease is reduced and overall health is improved. "It will also protect those around you from second hand smoke and save you money, " he said. In Australia, tobacco smoking is the single largest preventable cause of ill health and death. It contributes to more drug-related hospitalizations and deaths than alcohol and illicit drug use combined.

New Quit Kit Helps Smokers Give Up For Good In 2010, UK

An innovative free Quit Kit which gives smokers the right tools to successfully stop smoking is launched today as new research shows that almost half of smokers (44%) in England have resolved to quit this New Year. The NHS Stop Smoking Quit Kit, which has been designed by experts and smokers, contains calming audio downloads, a stress toy and a tool to help smokers work out how much money they are saving by quitting. When asked what would help them to quit: more than half (54%) of smokers wanted help to manage cravings; one third of smokers wanted tools and advice to strengthen willpower; nearly a third (32%) simply want something to do with their hands; and nicotine gum and patches were the most popular aids to quitting, with 42% of smokers planning on using a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) such as gum or patches this new year. The new free Quit Kit contains tools that that have either been scientifically proven to help reduce cravings or have been developed in response to smokers' needs.

Help Is Available For Smokers Who Want To Quit: A Message From Dr. Howard Koh

"With recent news that adult smoking rates have remained unchanged since 2004, and research showing that a clear majority of smokers want to quit, we urge smokers to mark today's 34th Great American Smokeout by making a quit plan and finding out about free resources that help them quit successfully. Research shows that advance planning and preparation greatly increase the likelihood of succeeding. "No matter when you quit, you are much more likely to increase your life expectancy and quality of life. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, and increases life expectancy. Smokers who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy; those who quit at age 55 gain about five years; and even long-term smokers who quit at 65 gain three years. "We also recognize that we all have a role in helping communities move toward a tobacco-free future. Recent studies show that state and local smoke-free laws, higher tobacco excise taxes and fully funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs have helped many people quit smoking, prevented children from ever starting, and diminished the harmful effects of secondhand smoke among non-smokers.

Statement By Kathleen Sebelius Secretary Of Health And Human Services On The Great American Smokeout

"Breaking a cigarette addiction may be one of the toughest commitments anyone can make. It takes a lot of support. But if you're a smoker, today you'll have the support of millions of other soon-to-be ex-smokers, if you join them in the Great American Smokeout. "Saying no to cigarettes is one of the most important commitments you can make to your health. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths, and 1 in 5 deaths from all causes. Almost 9 million Americans are living with cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and other potentially fatal illnesses, all brought on by using tobacco. "Even if you just join the Smokeout for 24 hours, you will prove to yourself you have power to quit. And if you can stretch your personal participation in the Great American Smokeout to weeks, months and years, you'll have made an essential commitment to the rest of your life." Source HHS

Study Finds Cigarettes Harbor Many Pathogenic Bacteria

Cigarettes are "widely contaminated" with bacteria, including some known to cause disease in people, concludes a new international study conducted by a University of Maryland environmental health researcher and microbial ecologists at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France. The research team describes the study as the first to show that "cigarettes themselves could be the direct source of exposure to a wide array of potentially pathogenic microbes among smokers and other people exposed to secondhand smoke." Still, the researchers caution that the public health implications are unclear and urge further research. "We were quite surprised to identify such a wide variety of human bacterial pathogens in these products, " says lead researcher Amy R. Sapkota, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland's School of Public Health. "The commercially-available cigarettes that we tested were chock full of bacteria, as we had hypothesized, but we didn't think we'd find so many that are infectious in humans, " explains Sapkota, who holds a joint appointment with the University's Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and the department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

Women Can Quit Smoking And Control Weight Gain

Many women don't quit smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight. That's because nicotine suppresses the appetite and boosts a smoker's metabolism. But a new meta-analysis (results of several studies) shows that women who quit smoking while receiving treatment for weight control are better able to control their weight gain and are more successful at quitting cigarettes. The finding disproves current clinical guidelines that say trying to diet and quit smoking at the same time will sabotage efforts to ditch cigarettes. "Women who smoke often feel caught between a rock and hard place, because they're concerned about their health but also concerned about their appearance, " said Bonnie Spring, lead author of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Now they don't have to choose between the two." Previously, it was assumed that a person could only change one health risk behavior at a time. "But these findings show that, at least in the case of smoking and eating, you actually get an added benefit when you try to change a couple of behaviors at once, " Spring said.

Prenatal Tobacco And Lead Exposure Linked To ADHD

Children exposed to tobacco in utero and to lead during childhood are eight times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ), according to the first study to examine the combined effects of these exposures in U.S. children. The study, "Association of Tobacco and Lead Exposures with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, " published in the December issue of Pediatrics (appearing online Nov. 23), examined records of prenatal tobacco and childhood lead exposure in the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a cross-sectional, nationally representative sample of U.S. children ages 8 to 15. Prenatal tobacco exposure was measured by report of maternal cigarette use during pregnancy, and lead exposure was assessed by current blood lead levels. Children exposed prenatally to tobacco smoke were 2.4 times more likely to have ADHD, and those with blood lead levels in the top third of the population had a 2.3-fold increased likelihood of ADHD.

Adolescent Smokers Prone To Drug Abuse

It is common knowledge that smoking is a health risk but why do teens become addicted to smoking more easily than adults? In an evaluation for Faculty of 1000 Biology, Neil Grunberg looks into why adolescents are more prone to substance abuse. Grunberg describes the study, published by Natividad et al. in Synapse journal, as "fascinating" and suggests it "may have implications to help understand why adolescents are particularly prone to drug abuse". Nicotine increases the level of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. The study looked at dopamine levels in adolescent and adult rats after nicotine withdrawal. The authors found that the withdrawal signs (physical and neurochemical) seen in adolescent rats were fewer than those observed in adults. The study provides previously unknown mechanisms as to why there are differences in nicotine withdrawal between adolescent and adult rats. The key here, as stated by Grunberg, is "age alters [neurological] systems and interactions relevant to nicotine".

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