Roundup: E-Cig Crackdown, 'Bad Bacteria' and Dementia Risk

FDA Cracks Down on E-Cig, Juul Sales to Minors

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this week that it is cracking down on retailers for violations related to sales of Juul and other e-cigarettes to minors.

Forty warning letters were sent to “brick-and-mortar retailers” in a first wave of a “blitz” to address the use of e-cigarettes, or so-called vaping devices, by those under the age of 18, the FDA said. The agency also said it sent requests to Juul Labs, the maker of “Juul” e-cigarettes that are becoming very popular among teens. The FDA is requesting Juul Labs submit documents related to product marketing and research, including information about “youth initiation and use.”

“We don’t yet fully understand why these products are so popular among youth,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, in a statement. “But it’s imperative that we figure it out, and fast. These documents may help us get there. We plan to issue additional letters to other manufacturers of products that raise similar concerns about youth use. If these companies, including Juul, don’t comply with our requests, they will be in violation of the law and subject to enforcement.”

Unlike other e-cig or vaping products, a Juul resembles an everyday flash drive, which may explain its popularity among teenagers, the FDA says.

The FDA said it has conducted 908,280 inspections of tobacco retailers, issued 70,350 warning letters and initiated about 17,000 civil money penalty cases in its efforts to fight the sale of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors.

“We understand, by all accounts, many of them may be using products that closely resemble a USB flash drive, which have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see,” says the FDA commissioner. “These characteristics may facilitate youth use by making the products more attractive to children and teens.”

E-cigs or vaping products, use an “e-liquid” that may contain nicotine, along with other flavorings and ingredients. The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales. Some products resemble conventional cigarettes or look like pens.

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Drinking Alcohol Linked to More ‘Bad Bacteria’ in Mouth

Drinking too much alcohol is not healthy, and a new study also found that it may lead to excessive “bad bacteria” in your mouth.

A person’s mouth can have good bacteria, such as Lactobacillales bacteria that help protect your gums and prevent sickness. It can also have bad bacteria, such as certain Actinomyces, Bacteroidales and Neisseria species that can cause diseases such as infections or even cancer.

The study found an association between drinking alcohol and more bad bacteria, but not a cause-and-effect relationship. Nonetheless, researchers point out that this may be one more reason to reduce alcohol intake, which in excess is known to contribute to chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and mental health problems.

In the study, published in the journal Microbiome, a team of researchers from New York University (NYU) studied the bacteria in spit samples from 1,044 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 87. The participants also answered questions about their alcohol drinking levels (non-drinker, moderate drinker or heavy drinker) and their everyday preference for alcoholic beverages (liquor, beer or wine). They found regular drinkers, especially heavy drinkers, tend to have more bad bacteria, such as Actinomyces, Bacteroidales, and Neisseria species, and fewer good bacteria.

“Our study offers clear evidence that drinking is bad for maintaining a healthy balance of microbes in the mouth and could help explain why drinking, like smoking, leads to bacterial changes already tied to cancer and chronic disease,” lead author and epidemiologist Jiyoung Ahn said in a news release.

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Meds Taken for Parkinson, Depression Tied to Higher Dementia Risk

Long-term use of anticholinergic medications for Parkinson’s disease, bladder conditions and depression could increase a person’s risk for dementia, a new study has found.

Anticholinergic drugs work to block the effects of acetylcholine, a chemical compound that acts as a neurotransmitter within nerve cells to send signals to other nerves and muscles. They are prescribed to 20 percent to 50 percent of older adults in the United States to treat a variety of neurological, psychiatric, gastrointestinal, respiratory and muscular conditions, according to a previous study. In the United Kingdom, 34 to 48 percent of older adults take them, another study found.

The new study, published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, examined the risk for dementia among nearly 350,000 older adults in the U.K.. The researchers found that people who used certain types of anticholinergics, such as those used to treat depression, Parkinson’s and urinary incontinence, for a year or more, had about a 30 percent increased risk of developing dementia later on.

But those individuals taking other classes of anticholinergics — including those used for asthma and gastrointestinal issues — were not at an increased risk of developing dementia, the study also found.

The study relied on data from from the UK’s Clinical Practice Research Database to identify 40,770 patients aged 65 to 99. They had been diagnosed with dementia between April 2006 and July 2015. Researchers compared how many daily doses of anticholinergic drugs these patients had been prescribed between four and 20 years earlier with a control group of almost 300,000 matched individuals.

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