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E-Cigs Lead Teens to Traditional Smoking? Coffee Boosts Colon Cancer Survival; Study Eyes Risky Contact Lens Care & Infections

Teens Use of E-Cigarettes Likely Leads to Smoking, Study Says

Teenagers who use e-cigarettes have a higher probability of trying cigarettes and other tobacco products, according to a new study [1]published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Researchers assessed more than 2,500 students in 9th grade at 10 Los Angeles public schools and asked about their smoking and vaping activities. They found the teens who had used e-cigarettes were 30 percent more likely within the next year to start using traditional tobacco products, like cigarettes and cigars.

The study notes that more research is needed to determine if the link is causal.

“These results raise the possibility that the association between e-cigarette and combustible tobacco use initiation may be bidirectional in early adolescence,” the authors wrote.

Because studies show the adolescent brain is especially sensitive to nicotine, they can develop high levels of addiction from using e-cigarettes. Sales of e-cigarettes in the U.S. topped $2 billion in 2013. The number of teens using e-cigarettes tripled last year.

Factors contributing to the increase of teens using e-cigarettes include the perception that they are not as harmful or addictive as combustible tobacco products, and the different flavors available are attractive to teens. In addition, they often have easy access to purchase them due to lack of regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering enacting rules and regulations that could ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, require warning labels about the health dangers of nicotine and call for child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine.

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— Tanya Racoobian Walton

Coffee Boosts Colon Cancer Recovery and Survival

Coffee drinkers can possibly rejoice at yet another study that extols the benefits of daily caffeine fixes. Drinking coffee could help colon cancer patients survive the disease and prevent it from returning after treatment, says a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study looked at 1,000 patients with stage 3 colon cancer who had all been treated with surgery and chemotherapy. Patients who drank four or more cups of coffee a day saw the biggest benefits. These patients were 42 percent less likely to have their cancer return than those who did not drink coffee. The coffee drinkers were also 34 percent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause, the study found. Meanwhile, patients who drank three cups of coffee or less had more modest results.

This is the latest in a series of studies showing the benefits of coffee, which can potentially lower the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s and cancer. This is the first study to show coffee can help patients improve their recovery from cancer.

“If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don’t stop,” said Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at the Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and author of the study, in a new release. “But if you’re not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician.”

Another important finding, according to Fuchs, is that other caffeinated drinks such as sodas didn’t have the same effect.

The precise component from coffee that provides these benefits is not known. Fuchs said it could be antioxidants or other compounds in coffee. It could also be coffee’s effects on metabolism or on the microbes living in the gut — or even something else that has not been determined, he said.

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— John Fernandez

Study Eyes Risky Contact Lens Habits, Infections

In the U.S., there are about 41 million contact wearers, and it’s likely that most have a few risky eye care habits, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The survey results indicate that millions of Americans could be at risk for serious eye infections because of poor contact lens hygiene behaviors,” the report said.

The national study was a joint project between the CDC and a multi-university research team known as the Contact Lens Assessment in Youth (CLAY) group. As part of the study, more than 99 percent of study participants admitted to at least one risky eye care behaviors. Here are the results:

Improper extended wear: Slightly more than 82 percent reported wearing contact lens for well beyond the recommended time frame.
Mixing old and new solutions: Approximately 55 percent of those surveyed said that instead of pouring out the old lens solution in the contact case, they just “top off” the existing contact solution by mixing in the new solution to the remainder of the older solution in the case.
Sleeping in lenses: Half of the respondents (50.2 percent) said they sleep in contact lenses.

“Each of these behaviors has been reported in previous studies to raise the risk of eye infections by five times or more,” the CDC reported in a news release about the study.

About one-third of those who wear contact lens wearers needed to seek out medical care for an eye problem that was “potentially preventable,” the CDC said.

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Sharon Harvey Rosenberg