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Roundup: Less Nicotine in Cigarettes; Underweight Newborns; Colorectal Cancer and Diet

FDA Proposes Lowering Nicotine Levels in Cigarettes to Curb Addiction

In a move that could have a drastic effect on the number of people addicted to nicotine in cigarettes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday a proposal “… to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels.”

If adopted, the new rule would establish a maximum nicotine level for cigarettes in an effort to make the harmful product “minimally addictive or nonaddictive,” said the FDA statement [1]. Tobacco use, mainly smoking cigarettes, kills more than 480,000 Americans each year and costs nearly $300 billion a year in direct healthcare and lost productivity, the statement notes. Cigarettes are the only legal consumer product that will kill half of all long-term users, the FDA adds.

The FDA’s research and recommendations for a nicotine product standard will aim to reduce “… the death and disease caused by addiction to combustible cigarettes.” Implementing a lower-level nicotine product standard could result in about 5 million adult smokers quitting smoking within one year, the FDA estimates.

Lower nicotine levels will help lessen nicotine dependence, the FDA says, and the standard’s impact on U.S. youth could be even greater, with more than 33 million young adults avoiding becoming regular smokers, according to FDA estimates that are being published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).  About 5.6 million children 17 years old and younger are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses, according to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report.

The FDA’s proposal also estimates “…smoking rates could drop from the current 15 percent to as low as 1.4 percent,” which would result in “more than 8 million fewer tobacco-caused deaths through the end of the century.”

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Rate of Underweight Newborns on the Rise, New Data Shows

Despite medical advancements, the percentage of babies born at low birth-weight may be on the rise after several years of improvement, says a new report [5].

The report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin found low birth-weight rate at 8.2 percent in 2016, up 2 percent from 2014. Babies are considered born underweight at less than 5.5 pounds.

Babies are much more likely to be born at low birth-weight in some communities than others. In all 50 states, there is a higher percentage of African-American low birth-weight babies than for other racial groups, the report states. The report showed clusters of low-ranking counties in the Southwest, Southeast, Mississippi Delta and Appalachian regions. The report compares counties within each state on more than 30 health-influencing factors, such as education, jobs, and access to quality health care.

“Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults -— regardless of their race or ethnicity —- have the same opportunities to be as healthy as possible,” said Richard Besser, M.D., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a news release.

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Pro-Inflammation Diets Increase Colorectal Cancer Risk, Study Confirms

Diets high in inflammation-producing foods, including processed meats, refined grains, sugary drinks, and high-carb, high-fat snacks, increase the risk for colorectal cancer in both men and women, a new study has found. Pro-inflammatory diets are especially risky in overweight and obese men — and in lean women, the research indicates.

The data mostly confirms what most doctors and dietitians have known: Diets rich in whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains — while staying away from overly processed meats and other processed products — reduces your risk of developing colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

The large-scale study [8] focused on data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study to track the development of colorectal cancer cases in a total of 121,050 adults over 26 years. Over time, there were 2,699 cases of colorectal cancer. The risk of developing colorectal cancer was 48 percent higher among overweight or obese men with the most pro-inflammatory diets. The risk for colorectal cancer was 31 percent higher for lean women.

Beyond adhering to dietary precautions, researchers cautioned that patients who are at high risk for colorectal cancer — because of a family history or their own history with risk factors such as smoking or obesity, or a history of having polyps — need to discuss other interventions, including more frequent colonoscopies than are generally recommended.

Some foods, such as green leafy vegetables, dark yellow vegetables, fruits and healthy fats have an anti-inflammatory effect, and are recommended generally for good health.

Researchers concluded that “strategies to reduce the adverse role of a pro-inflammatory dietary patterns in colorectal cancer development may have higher benefits among overweight or obese men and among lean women, or among men and women not consuming alcohol.”

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