By Clayton Boldt
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that e-cigarette use has grown rapidly among teens in the past few years.
It may seem encouraging that this rise coincides with a drop in the use of tobacco products among kids. But e-cigarettes may not be harmless.
The truth is that we have very limited information on e-cigarettes. Their long-term impacts remain unknown, and we don't yet have enough data to support them as a healthy option.
E-cigarettes may create new tobacco users
Because e-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the FDA, manufacturers don't have to report their ingredients. Therefore, it's unclear what is used to flavor many of these products and what health risks might be linked to those chemicals.
E-cigarettes are available in thousands of flavors, such as bubblegum, cinnamon roll and peppermint. This has likely contributed to the increased use in young non-smokers. Most adult smokers started their habits as kids, and e-cigarettes may create a new generation of tobacco users.
Recently in Smoking Category
By Clayton Boldt
From the gardens to the skybridge to our leading doctors and kind volunteers, there are many things that set MD Anderson apart and help our patients feel at home.
Whether it's your first appointment or you've become an old pro, you're likely to appreciate these 17 unique features.
1. Our 69 aquariums. The 66 freshwater and three saltwater live coral reef aquariums in our clinics are home to 3,000 fish -- mostly cichlids, angelfish and rainbow fish. The largest freshwater aquarium, by the Pharmacy in the Main Building, holds 850 gallons.
2. The Observation Deck. Located on the 24th Floor of the Main Building, the Observation Deck offers peace and quiet, as well as a scenic view of Houston. You're also welcome to play the piano up there.
3. Our volunteers. MD Anderson is fortunate to have more than 1,200 volunteers who contributed 193,921 hours of service last year. Stop by our Hospitality Centers for a cup of coffee and to visit with these caring individuals, many of whom are survivors or caregivers themselves.
4. Our pianos. Twenty-five of our volunteers play the piano in The Park and the Mays Clinic between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. They also play at the Rotary House each day. If you're lucky, you may hear our harpist or one of our two flautists as well.
5. Room service. Inpatients -- as well as their families, caregivers and friends -- can order whatever they want from room service each day from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Our classically trained senior executive chef comes up with the menu of fresh, cooked-to-order meals.
You've probably seen someone walking down the street or sitting on an airplane smoking an electronic cigarette -- a smokeless electronic device that allows the user to imitate traditional smoking methods by inhaling a vapor of liquid nicotine. Tobacco companies have recently begun promoting e-cigarettes to hook young people on tobacco, claiming they're harmless and can even help people quit smoking.
But now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stepped in, proposing new rules to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
"The reality is we have limited knowledge of what is in e-cigarettes, and if the actual nicotine content on the label is reflective of what's inside. There are no standards for reporting or measuring," says Paul Cinciripini, Ph.D., director of MD Anderson's Tobacco Treatment Program. "Regulation is welcome and further clinical research is needed before e-cigarettes can be promoted as a safe alternative to smoking or as an effective means to quit smoking."
Cracking down on e-cigarettes
E-cigarette sales have jumped from $500 million in 2012 to nearly $2 billion today. This is partly due to hip packing and flavoring options that make e-cigarettes attractive to a new generation of younger smokers. Our tobacco experts are concerned that e-cigarettes may become a gateway form of nicotine for never-smokers, while also preventing those who are trying to quit from kicking their nicotine addiction.
By John Chattaway
As a part of MD Anderson's mission to end cancer, we're aspiring to raise the first tobacco-free generation. It's this goal that led to the creation of the ASPIRE program.
ASPIRE, which stands for A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience, aims to educate teens about the dangers of tobacco use, so they never start smoking. For teens who already use tobacco, it provides information and strategies to quit smoking.
This free, web-based school curriculum has enrolled participants from 28 states and one international city. The program is available in both English and Spanish.
"Young people are very picky about what and how they are taught," says Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Behavioral Science and director of the Tobacco Outreach Education Program. "That's why we created this online course that is fun, interactive and entertaining while still being educational."
Online tobacco and smoking prevention
ASPIRE can be accessed by anyone through the MD Anderson website. It offers information tailored specifically for one person or for groups. Those who have never smoked can use ASPIRE to learn why it's important to avoid tobacco and how to talk to others about the harms of tobacco.
This Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's 1964 Report on Smoking and Health, the first major statement in the United States linking smoking to lung cancer.
With more than 200,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer each year in the United States and smoking contributing to 87% of lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths, this landmark report and the 30 subsequent Surgeon General's Reports on smoking have greatly influenced what we do here at MD Anderson.
Here are four ways the Surgeon General's Report has impacted our work and -- and our cancer patients and their families.
1. We've hired more researchers focused on smoking and cancer.
"The 1964 Surgeon General's Report set the stage for extraordinary increase in knowledge and research on tobacco and cancer that's occurred since then," says Ellen R. Gritz, Ph.D., chair of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson and an author and/or editor for nine Surgeon General's reports on smoking and tobacco.
By Andrew Davison
I lost my dad to lung cancer. Thirteen years later, I was diagnosed with the same illness that took his life.
The difference was that he smoked two packs of cigarettes day, and I did not.
While I did smoke occasionally in my early 20s, I have been active and healthy for most of my life. But whether a person smokes or not shouldn't matter in how we approach lung cancer patients. Through my lung cancer treatment journey, I've learned we need to end the stigma surrounding lung cancer.
My lung cancer diagnosis
Almost four months ago, I was riding on top of the world, literally. In the midst of a five-hour mountain bike ride at a ski resort in Colorado, I crashed. I was a little banged up and went in to get checked out. After a few stitches and a chest x-ray, I was cleared to go home with a bag of ice and some ibuprofen.
Two hours later, while grilling at a summer BBQ, I missed a call from the clinic. The doctor left a voicemail saying that, after a second review, the radiologist had noticed a spot on the upper apex of my left lung. He said it was probably nothing, perhaps even just some scar tissue, and that I should schedule a CT scan. I turned to my wife and said, "There is no way that is good news."
By Brittany Cordeiro
Each day in the United States, about 4,000 kids smoke their first cigarette. Many of them will become daily smokers.
"For teens, it may seem cool to smoke. But tobacco use at a young age can cause immediate and long-term health problems like cancer," says Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Tobacco Outreach Education Program at MD Anderson.
Recent data shows that the declining number of teen tobacco users has stalled. And, the tobacco industry may be to blame.
The industry advertises products, like e-cigarettes, flavored cigarillos and hookahs, as "safe" and is capturing the attention of kids.
"All tobacco products are dangerous," Prokhorov says. "We need to be proactive about educating our communities, schools and governments about the dangers of these products."
Use the facts below to educate kids about the health risks of trendy tobacco products.
Cigar use among high school students rose from 7% in 2009 to 12% in 2011. One main factor: flavored cigarillos.
With a steady decline in traditional cigarettes, tobacco companies are looking for new ways to get people addicted to smoking.
Now, with the third largest U.S. tobacco company launching a massive campaign to promote electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, smoking may be on rise again. In fact, about 6% of adults have tried e-cigarettes, a number that has nearly doubled since 2010, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The e-cigarette is a smokeless electronic device that allows the user to inhale a vapor of liquid nicotine in order to imitate traditional
smoking methods. The new gadget is touted as safe and harmless by tobacco
companies, but our tobacco prevention and cessation experts tell a different
e-cigarettes are 'safe' are misleading
"We've been telling society for the past 30 years that they shouldn't smoke, and that tobacco is bad," says Paul Cinciripini, Ph.D., director of MD Anderson's Tobacco Treatment Program. "But tobacco companies are smart and have a good marketing strategy when it comes to promoting new products."
When a massive clinical trial about lung cancer screening shows a benefit to current and former smokers, why can it take so long to become accessible for most people?
A draft recommendation by a federal task force in favor of using low-dose CT scans to screen past and current heavy smokers for lung cancer provides insight about the time lag.
The recommendation says that low-dose spiral CT lung cancer screening is only appropriate for those who:
• Are 55 to 80 years old
• Have a 30-pack-year history of smoking (which translates to 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
• Smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years
companies expected to cover CT lung cancer screening for smokers
The task force carefully sorts the pros and cons of a preventive procedure before recommending for or against. Its rulings are highly influential, so both governmental and private health insurers tend to wait for its recommendations before deciding whether to pay for a procedure, Munden says.
The task force's recommended B rating for the procedure, subject to a comment period that ends Aug. 26, is significant. Right now, 95% of the people who want screening have to pay for it out-of-pocket, because only two health insurance companies cover it. Medicare and Medicaid don't reimburse for it, but the task force's recommendation is expected to change that.
"The implications are huge," says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center. "Health plans, under the Affordable Care Act, are required to cover any screening or service given an A or B rating by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. They're not only required to cover it, but to cover it without any co-payment or deductible so the patient is able to get this at no out-of-pocket cost."
One in two men will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. And, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American men, just behind lung cancer.
So, what can men do to protect themselves from cancer? We recently spoke with John Papadopoulos, M.D., assistant professor of Urology. He works at the MD Anderson Regional Care Center in Katy.
Here's what Dr. Papadopoulos had to say.
What are some easy tips for men to help men prevent cancer?
There are a lot of things men can do to protect themselves from cancer:
- Avoid tobacco - even celebratory cigars - and limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day.
- Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active each day.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Make fruits and vegetables the biggest part of every meal and go easy on the meat. Limit the amount of red meat you eat to 18 oz. week and avoid processed meats like hot dogs and pepperoni.
- Wear sunscreen and practice sun safety.
- See a doctor regularly and get the screening exams you need. Many men avoid seeing a doctor because they're afraid, but if you do have a chronic disease like cancer, diabetes or heart disease, the earlier we catch it, the easier it will be to treat.
Keep in mind that doing these things doesn't guarantee you won't get cancer. But living a healthy lifestyle can put you in fighting shape if you do develop cancer.
What cancer screening exams do men need? And, when should most men start screening?
Most men need both a prostate exam (digital rectal exam and PSA test) and a colonoscopy starting at age 50. This is the appropriate age for screening if you don't have a family history (father, son, brother) of prostate or colon cancer and you're not African American, which can make you more likely to develop these cancers.
By Mary Dewberry
In January 1989, MD Anderson went smoke-free. It happened the same month and year that I started working here.
Now when people see me, they think of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout (GASO) and saying no to tobacco. That's because for 23 years, I've helped coordinate GASO's logistics and direct people to resources here at MD Anderson during the event, which is held every November.
But for me, GASO isn't about trying to quit for one day or one week. It's about providing resources to help year-round.
Here are a few of the resources I recommend to those trying to quit.
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- E-cigarette legislation offers new promise for Texas youth
- 17 things that make MD Anderson unique
- FDA tackles e-cigarettes: An important first step
- ASPIRE-ing for a tobacco-free world
- 4 ways the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health impacts our work
- Confronting the lung cancer stigma
- E-cigarettes, cigarillos and hookahs: Latest tobacco trends target youth
- The dangers and risks of e-cigarettes
- Tobacco-Free Teens app helps youth quit smoking
- Lung cancer screening for smokers moves toward standard of care
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