Smoking Prevention in Children

The number of children that smoke cigarettes is down, but the number using other tobacco products is up. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) in 2014, claimed that this was the case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC as well as the FDA, co-conducted the survey.

Chief of epidemiology at FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Benjamin J. Apelberg, Ph.D said that this is the only nationally representative survey of high school and middle school students focused on tobacco use. The results of the survey provided a snapshot of what high school and middle school students are using and trends that are emerging over time.

The findings include:

  • In 2104, one in thirteen middle school students and one on four high school students said that they had been regular tobacco users, meaning that had used one or more tobacco products in the previous thirty days.
  • During the survey the then 4.6 million youth tobacco users, 2.4 million were using e-cigarettes.
  • The percentage of students using cigarettes decreased 15.8% to 9.2% between 2011 and 2014.
  • Hookah and e-cigarette use increased drastically between 2011 and 2014.
  • Around 2.2 million students reported using two or more tobacco products in 2014.

The survey started to collect e-cigarette use in 2011, but by 2014, their use surpassed every other tobacco product. This includes even regular cigarette use. High school and middle school children are using novel products like hookahs and e-cigarettes in larger numbers and many are using more than one tobacco product.

Epidemiologist Catherine Corey of the FDA say this is both good and bad. Cigarette smoking is decreasing, but hookah and e-cigarette use is increasing and it undermines the progress in the reduction of tobacco use.

Nicotine Can Impact the Developing Brain

Nicotine is highly addictive and it’s dangerous for children. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a hookah, cigarette, cigar or an e-cigarette. When the brain is still developing and adolescent is in a vulnerable position when it comes to nicotine use. Research shows that exposure to nicotine can be harmful because there are many other chemicals present in tobacco products that are linked to disease. Children and youth should not be using tobacco products in any form at all.

The FDA has regulatory authority over cigarette tobacco, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and roll-your own tobacco. The FDA is working on finalizing a rule that would extend its reach to other products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product like cigars, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes. The FDA wants a minimum age of 18 for anyone looking to buy tobacco.

The new findings strengthen the evidence provided by science that novel tobacco products like hookahs and e-cigarettes have appeal to youth and that there needs to be prevention efforts to help stop smoking and cut down all use of tobacco products not just regular cigarettes.

Trans Fat in Processed Foods

On a Nutrition Facts label, you may have seen the amount of Trans-fat listed, but don’t know why this is even there.

The intake of Trans-fat is linked to increases chances that you’ll develop heart disease since it promotes the buildup of harmful plaque in the artery walls which may lead oy a heart attack. The FDA requires that Trans-fat be declared on any food labels so consumers know how much Trans-fat that they are consuming. Many foods that are processed have PHOs or partially hydrogenated oils which is the major source of industrially-produced Trans-fat that we find in our processed foods.

The FDA is taking a step to remove the artificial Trans-fat from our food supply. This should reduce the instances of coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks which occur each year.

Not Recognized as Safe Now

The FDA made a preliminary determination in 2013, that PHOs we no longer GRAS or “generally recognized as safe.” The FDA is finalizing its actions and determining that PHOs can no longer be called GRAS and should not be used in foods.

Scientific evidence was use dot make this determination as well as the advice given by expert panels according to Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Susan Mayne, Ph.D. Studies have indicated that nutrition and diet play a role in preventing serious health problems such as heart disease. The health of Americans is improved by updating the Nutrition Facts label.

Trans-fat dies occur naturally in dairy and meat products so it won’t completely be gone. It’s also found in small amounts in edible oils when it’s created during the manufacturing process. Companies are able to petition the FDA to use certain partially hydrogenated oils in manufacturing.

PHOs and Trans-Fat

The primary source of industry produced Trans-fat is PHOs. These are found in many popular processed foods, frozen foods, and baked goods that Americans eat. Since the 1950s PHOs have been used to increase favor and shelf-life of processed foods.

Many studies over time have shown that Trans-fat is linked to heart disease. The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine in 2012 issued a report that found a direct correlation between increased levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the consumption of Trans-fat. This “bad cholesterol” increases the chances of heart disease.

In January 2006, the FDA began to label Trans-fat on the Nutrition Facts label. Many companies began to eliminate Trans-fat or change their food formulation in response to this. Consumers no know more about Trans-fat and are making better food choices.

Colorectal Cancer

In the U.S. last year, 136,000 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 50,000 died of the disease according to data from the National Cancer Institute. This is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. It tend sot his some groups more than others. On minorities, the toll is very high according to director of FDA’s Office of Minority Health Jonca Bull, M.D. Populations that don’t get a lot of screening or get early treatment, die earlier. This impacts Hispanics, African Americans, Alaska Natives, and Indians. Early detection, treatment and referral can reduce the disparities in deaths from the disease.

Lives are Saved through Screening

Precancerous growths or polyps are the beginnings of colorectal cancer in the large intestine of the rectum. People that have signs of colorectal cancer or precancerous growths don’t always have any symptoms of the disease. Screening is important because suspicious tissue and growths can be removed before they turn into cancers.

How and When Should I get screened?

At age 50 you should get screen if you have any risk factors or developing colorectal cancer. People that are at a higher risk may need to get screened earlier on in life and may have to get more frequent screening. You can speak with your doctor to see what the best option for you. Several of the options include:

  • Colonoscopy – This is where a thin tube containing a light is inserted to look at the rectum and the colon for any growths, cancer, or abnormal tissues. You are sedated for this test. Routine screening needed every 10 years.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – The doctor uses a thin tube and a light to look in the lower third of the colon as well as the rectum for abnormal tissues, growths or cancers. The thin tube may also include a tool which takes abnormal tissues for further examination. Routine screening is needed every 5 years.
  • Fecal blood test (gFOBTor FIT test) – You use a home kit provided by your physician and take a sample of your stool and take it to the lab. The sample is checked for blood and signs of cancer. If there’s blood, a colonoscopy is needed to determine the cause. Screening is needed once per year.
  • Stool (DNA test ) – you use a kit provided by your physician and provide a stool sample for the lab. It’s checked for genetic changes as well as blood. If there’s a positive test then you’ll need a colonoscopy. Routine screening is needed every three years.
  • Computed tomography colonography or “virtual colonoscopy” – This test is an X-ray imaging procedure which provided 3D and 2D views of the colon from the rectum as well as the lower end of the small intestine. There’s also some visualization of the small bowel. The colon is gently inflated with air through a small tube tip which is placed in the rectum. Routine screening is needed every 5 years.

Talk to your physician about regular colorectal screening procedures.

Why do we get gray hair?

Have you ever wondered why hair turns gray as you get older and whether there is something you can do to prevent graying or at least slow it down?

A person’s hair color is the result of pigments known as melanin. Made from two amino acids (tyrosine and phenylalanine), these pigments are produced by a specialized group of cells known as melanocytes. They do this through a process called melanogenesis. Melanocytes are found throughout our body and the melanin they produce is what gives our skin, hair, and eyes their color. The melanocytes responsible for hair color are found in the bulbs of your hair follicles.

There are a few different processes that can make our hair turn gray. The one most people think of is the natural graying that occurs as we grow older. As we age our melanocytes become inactive, but are still present. The older we get, melanocytes decrease in number. The result is less and less melanin, until none are present. Thus, we slowly turn gray, and then our hair turns white in the winter of our lives.