Category Archives: Home Health Hazards

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Thirdhand Smoke Adds To Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

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cigarette smoking secondhand thirdhand smoke

Thirdhand smoke has been linked to several negative health problems, and a new study adds another health risk in the form of diabetes.

According to a research team from the University of California, thirdhand smoke triggers insulin resistance, which is known as one of the major precursors to Type 2 Diabetes. “In type 2 diabetes, glucose does not enter the cells and increased levels of insulin, resulting from an overburdened pancreas, do nothing to facilitate glucose entry into cells for producing energy,” said study lead author Manuela Martins-Green via a news article.

Thirdhand smoke is the result of cigarette smoke getting absorbed by surfaces such as clothes, home and indoor furniture, and even human hair. This is different from secondhand smoke, which is the exhaled cigarette smoke that people may directly inhale or get exposed to. The health hazards of thirdhand smoke stem from the fact that it contains chemicals that may be harmful to humans. “This includes toxins that become increasingly toxic with age and are re-emitted into the air or react with other chemicals in the environment to produce new pollutants… Some of these pollutants are carcinogenic,” Martins-Green said.

The team used lab mice to determine the effect of thirdhand smoke on insulin resistance and other health factors. One group of mice was housed in cages that were previously exposed to secondhand smoke, while the other group was placed in clean cages. The animals exposed to thirdhand smoke were given a high-fat diet to mimic an average human diet.

Results showed that the mice exposed to thirdhand smoke had a higher degree of insulin resistance and oxidative stress. “If confirmed in humans, our study could greatly impact how people view exposure to environmental tobacco toxins,” the study lead author expressed.

The team emphasized the importance of studying about thirdhand smoke. “Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to THS and its impact on health. Because infants frequently crawl on carpets and touch objects exposed to exhaled smoke, they are at high risk for THS exposure. The elderly are at high risk simply because older organs are more susceptible to disease,” Martins-Green added.

The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.


Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Pregnancy & Fertility

New Research Says Alcohol May Affect Fetuses Even Before Women Know They’re Pregnant

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New research has found that there may be a risk to fetuses by mothers who drink prior to learning they are pregnant.

The research has found that in mice, drinking alcohol within even the first three weeks of pregnancy may create changes in the genes of the embryo that can result in permanent damage.

Although the research only pertains to mice thus far, it could have implications for humans, as well. The researchers suggest that women consider cutting out alcohol from their lives as soon as they make a decision to try and get pregnant or if they remotely suspect they are pregnant.

“Our findings suggest that alcohol can harm fetus in early pregnancy, a time period when women are often not aware of their pregnancy,” Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola, a biologist at the University of Helsinki and the study’s lead author, said. “Therefore, it would be good to decrease the alcohol consumption as soon as one plans to have a baby.”

At this point, it’s still too early to say how much alcohol consumption it would take to harm a human fetus during early pregnancy, and more research is needed in order to provide specific guidelines.

In the study, the researchers fed alcohol to female mice who were at a stage of pregnancy that is equivalent to three to four weeks of human pregnancy. They found that the mice pups exhibited symptoms similar to human fetal alcohol syndrome, including hyperactivity, decreased growth rate and structural changes to the face and skull.

The damage occurred because early exposure to alcohol created changes in the embryo’s epigenome — the set of chemical compounds that regulate the genome — which led to alterations in the expression of genes in the brains of the infant mice. These changes were observed in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion that is known to be heavily affected by alcohol. Researchers also found changes in the bone marrow of the infant mice, and in some tissue within the mouse’s snout that plays a role in the sense of smell.

Because early pregnancy is a critical time for cell division and differentiation, the embryo is vulnerable to external influences at this stage, and any changes can become widespread because the cells are rapidly dividing.



Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

CDC Warns of Drug Resistant Bug

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about a particularly nasty stomach bug that has made its way to the United States and has caused more than 200 people to become ill since last May. Many of those cases were traced back to people who had just returned from abroad, particularly from India or the Dominican Republic.

Although outbreaks of the shigella bug aren’t uncommon, what makes this bug worse than usual is that it is resistant to the antibiotics that are usually prescribed to deal with it.

In its report on the bug, the CDC says it has sickened at least 243 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico. Shigella is a common cause of diarrhea and antibiotics can be prescribed for more serious cases.

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Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories

States Continue to Ban Powdered Alcohol

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Photo credit: Liberal America

Powdered alcohol seems to be moving in the opposite direction of marijuana these day, with a total of five states having banned the substance, according to the Alcohol Justice website and 25 more having introduced legislation to do so.

Among the states that have passed legislation to ban powdered and crystalline alcohol products, are: Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts has issued a regulatory decision that powdered alcohol is not legal in the state and the Pennsylvania liquor control board voted unanimously to keep powdered alcohol off of its product lists.

Among the reasons for the bans and potential bans are concerns that the powder can be easily accessed and hidden by youth and the packets are also similar to nonalcoholic children’s drink packets. People could also easily combine the packets, mix the powder with liquid alcohol, mix it with energy drinks, sneak it into venues where alcohol is not allowed and potentially snort it.

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Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories

Mixing Medication and Dietary Supplements Can be Bad for Health

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Dietary supplements could alter the way medication works, regardless of whether it is prescription or over-the-counter medicine.take vitamins

“Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it,” Robert Mozersky, a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said.

Certain dietary supplements may change absorption, metabolism, or excretion of a medication and therefore affect its potency.

“You may be getting either too much or too little of a medication you need,” Mozersky warned.

Combining dietary supplements and medications could even have life-threatening effects. For example, drugs for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth control pills are less effective when taken with the herbal supplement St. John’s Wort. Depending on the medication involved, the results can be serious.

Also, warfarin (a prescription blood thinner), ginkgo biloba (an herbal supplement), aspirin and vitamin E can each thin the blood, so taking any of these products together may increase the potential for internal bleeding or stroke.

Dietary supplements are widely used and include vitamins, minerals, and other less familiar substances—such as herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes.

Addiction Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Children of Dads Who Smoked Pre-Conception More Likely to Have Asthma: Study

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Children are more likely to have asthma if their fathers smoked prior to conceiving them, a new German study has found. kid with asthma

The research looked at the smoking habits of 13,000 men and women who responded to survey questions, including whether they have smoked, when and for how long. They also indicated whether they stopped smoking before conceiving, according to a news release about the study, which found fathers who smoked prior to conception raised the chances of their unborn children having asthma. Fathers who had been smoking longer and fathers who began smoking before 15 were more likely to have babies born with asthma.

Mothers smoking prior to conception was not associated with increased asthma risk among the women in the survey.

It isn’t exactly clear how smoking before conception could cause asthma, but air pollution is certainly a factor, the authors said.

“This study is important as it is the first study looking at how a father’s smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children,” said one of the study authors, Dr. Cecile Svanes, of the University of Bergen, Norway, in a statement. “Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect.”

Asthma is a condition that causes the airways to swell, leading to labored breathing and tightness around the lungs. At least 25 million Americans have asthma, and 7 million of them are children, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.


Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Health apps not only likely useless, could potentially harm you

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If you are using one of the thousands of health apps out there, including: calorie counters; blood-pressure testers; and even music-therapy apps, you are using an unregulated piece of software that could potentially harm you. health apps

An article in The New England Journal of Medicine says there are over 97,000 mobile health (mHealth) apps available and that because these apps aren’t effectively regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, many of them could be useless, if not harmful.

Medical companies like Pfizer and Sanofi Aventis have already had to send out warnings that their apps were giving wonky readings and some mHealth apps like Pocket Doctor promise to give medical diagnosis while simultaneously claiming to be just for entertainment purposes.

It’s not that mHealth apps are all useless, the article authors say, it’s just that most people aren’t savvy enough to know that many of them are questionable at best and shouldn’t be trusted to be accurate.

Currently, the FDA doesn’t get overly involved in the mHealth industry, except when there could be a clear danger to people when a health app is misused.

Unless an app is associated with a medical institution you know and trust, or unless you can find specific information backing up its claims and methods, it’s best to cast a wary eye at anything health-related that can be downloaded to your phone.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

New post gives parents much needed information on Spice

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Synthetic marijuana has been a scourge for years now and a recently published post gives parents the definitive information they need to know about this dangerous drug.Spice

The information contained in the article includes the effects of the drug, several statistics about its usage and tips about how parents can protect their children from abusing the drug.

The tips include:

  • Communicate with your teen.
  • Make your position clear.
  • Check in frequently.
  • Look for signs of use.
  • If necessary, seek help.

To read the full Parent’s Guide to Spice, click here.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Study Shows 1 in 5 High School Seniors Have Tried Hookah

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About 18% of high school seniors, or one in five, have tried smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe, a new study has found.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

The study, performed by New York University researchers, involved data from the Monitoring the Future nationwide study, which follows teens’ behaviors, values, and attitudes. Of the almost 15,000 kids aged 18 involved in the study, 5,540 were questioned about their hookah use between 2010 and 2012.

Researchers also found that “students of higher socioeconomic status appear to be more  likely to use hookah,” said Dr. Joseph Palamar, assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, in a press release. “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use. We also found that hookah use is more common in cities, especially big cities. So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas.”

Traditionally from the Middle East, hookah involves smoking flavored tobacco from a large water pipe. It’s become increasingly popular in North America and other parts of the world, in part, because it’s believed to be less harmful to the body — the tobacco is considered to be milder. However, that’s not entirely the case because hookah smokers tend to take more puffs in one session, resulting in similar, if not worse effects than smoking.

In New York City, hookahs have become popular, appearing in clubs, increasingly numerous hookah bars, and pretty much wherever someone with a hookah pipe wants to bring it. Among the general population, hookah use has increased by as much as 123%, co-author of the study Dr. Michael Weitzman said. But although they come with similar health risks — respiratory illness, herpes, heart disease, and some cancers — consistent use isn’t such an issue.

“Use tends to be much different from traditional cigarette smoking,” Palamar said in the release. “Right now it appears that a lot of hookah use is more ritualistic, used occasionally — for example, in hookah bars, and not everyone inhales.”

However, the researchers warned that people who begin using hookah may eventually turn to vape pens or e-cigarettes, which also sport a wide range of flavors while remaining mysterious in terms of health effects. Educating the public, and especially the youth, about how smoking hookah isn’t completely harmless may be the experts’ best bet.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Study: Hairdressers At Higher Risk Of Cancer Due To Hair Dye

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Hair products found in most salons have long been known to possess chemicals and vapors that may be harmful to human health. A new study was able to link prolonged exposure to these hair agents and a higher risk of developing cancer.

HaircoloringSwedish researchers were able to establish a connection between hair treatment products and a higher likelihood of hairdressers getting cancer. The suspect compound — carcinogenic aromatic amines — found in hair dyes and perm products may have contributed to the increase in cancer risk for hairdressers.

According to a news release, the study involved extraction of blood samples from close to 300 hairdressers, as well as frequent hair dye users and those tho haven’t undergone hair coloring for a year. For hairdressers, their exposure to hair treatment chemicals were also monitored.

Results of the study showed that the level of aromatic amines, particularly toluidines, in the blood samples of hairdressers increased with the number of treatments that they administer to customers. In addition, those exposed to perm or hair-waving products were found to have a higher level of o-toluidines. These amine variants have been touted as cancer-causing, based on previous studies.

While results do not signify a direct causality between hair dyes and cancer, researchers urge hairdressers to avoid skin exposure when handling hair coloring and perming products.