Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Many Smokers Just Need That Extra Push To Help Them Quit

Researchers found that while the vast majority of smokers want to stop, the vast majority who wanted to got little support from their health care providers. Not that they’d approached their provider, either.

68.8% of current cigarette smokers said they would like to completely stop smoking, and 52.4% had tried to quit smoking in the past year. However, 68.3% of the smokers who tried to quit did so without using evidence-based cessation counseling or medications, and only 48.3% of those who had visited a health-care provider in the past year reported receiving advice to quit smoking.

Little overall change has been observed in these measures in the past decade. However, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Are E-Cigarettes Anything More Than A Theater Prop?

E-cigarettes continue to create a lot of media buzz and chatter among smokers and smoking cessation experts alike. Today, Professor Thomas Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth University published an important study demonstrating that E-cigarettes, despite claims on the packaging and advertising, deliver almost no nicotine to the user.

The study is published in the latest edition of the journal, Tobacco Control. Professor Eissenberg had 16 smokers abstain overnight, then come to the lab. on different days and (a) smoke two of their usual cigarettes (b) puff on two unlit cigarettes or (c) “smoke” 2 leading brands of E-cigarette using their “high nicotine” cartridge (16mg), each brand on a separate occasion. On each occasion he measured the blood nicotine levels before, during and up to 45 minutes after using the products. Read more »

This post, Are E-Cigarettes Anything More Than A Theater Prop?, was originally published on Healthine.com by Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D..

How Cigarette Nicotine Affects The Brain

I was recently asked to review a new textbook on Nicotine Psychopharmacology, containing 18 very thorough chapters describing the latest evidence on the effects of smoking and nicotine on the brain and behavior. Much of it, though interesting, was a very heavy read. But it occurred to me that it might be useful to try to summarize what the 544 pages in this new book suggests about the effects of nicotine and the reasons smokers get addicted. So here is an attempt to describe how nicotine addiction works, in simplified terms.

When a smoker inhales nicotine from a cigarette, the drug is carried to the brain in highly concentrated form within around 10-15 seconds. The drug then Read more »

This post, How Cigarette Nicotine Affects The Brain, was originally published on Healthine.com by Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D..

Does The e-Cigarette Deliver Nicotine?

I’m currently attending the annual conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. This is the main organization for nicotine researchers and this conference is often the first place that exciting new research findings are presented, prior to being published in more detail in scientific journals. So this week my posts will be based on some of the most interesting things I have come across at this conference, including new developments in helping smokers quit.

There is currently considerable interest (hype?) in the e-cigarette, and I have written about it before. Last weekend I was walking through our local shopping mall in New Jersey with my 8-year old daughter when she tugged at my arm and said “dad, dad, theres a man smoking over there.” I told her that couldn’t be true because people arnt allowed to smoke inside the mall, but she insisted. On looking over I was surprised to see that sure enough, someone was standing next to a booth and appeared to be puffing away on a cigarette. So we walked over to investigate, and found out that in fact it was an e-cigarette and he was selling the product at the booth. We chatted and he showed me the product which actually looks very impressive. I had already purchased an earlier version a couple of years ago, which was more stogie cigar-sized, but this one looked and puffed very much like a cigarette and was also considerably less expensive than the earlier model.

But whenever discussing this product, to me the first and most critical question (after …”whats in the vapor and might it harm my health?”) is, “does it deliver enough nicotine to satisfy nicotine cravings? “ Until I came to this conference, I hadn’t met anyone who had completed a study that included measurement of blood nicotine levels in people using the e-cigarette. This question is critical because cigarette smokers are used to receiving a boost in blood nicotine levels of at least 10 ng/ml from each cigarette, and for a product to have any chance of effectively reducing craving for or replacing cigarettes it needs to come close to that level of nicotine delivery.

But I was lucky enough to bump into Dr Murray Laugesen, a tobacco control expert from New Zealand who has been one of the foremost proponents of the product. He showed me a preliminary report on the e-cigarette which was being presented at the conference. Full details of the study will be presented in a formal publication sometime in the future, but for right now the main conclusion is that although the e-cigarette CONTAINS a reasonable amount of nicotine it actually DELIVERS very little nicotine to the user, and certainly much much less that can be obtained from smoking. To my mind this relegates the status of this product to that of a very nice and cleverly designed theatre prop, and unfortunately not a product that is likely to be highly effective in helping smokers to quit smoking.

As always, if you are interested in using a product to assist you in quitting smoking, your best bet is to use a product that has been approved by the medicines licensing agency in your country as safe and effective for that purpose (e.g. in the U.S. that would be the FDA).

For more information about Dr Laugesen’s work on the e-cigarette, visit:

http://www.healthnz.co.nz/ecigarette.htm

*This post, Does The e-Cigarette Deliver Nicotine?, was originally published on Healthline.com by Johnatan Foulds, MA, MAppSci, PhD.*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »