Roundup: Rise of E-Cigarette Use Among Youth of 'Great Concern': U.S. Surgeon General; Eating Nuts Daily Linked to Lower Risks of Many Diseases, Premature Death

The rising popularity of e-cigarettes among young adults is a “cause of great concern” and actions should be taken by public officials and others to “protect the health of our nation’s young people,” according to a report issued Thursday by the U.S. Surgeon General.

“E-cigarette use, particularly among youth and young adults, has become a public health concern that warrants immediate and coordinated action,” the report states. It focuses on Americans under the age of 25 and concludes that e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, have the addictive potential of traditional tobacco products. The report is the first comprehensive look by the federal government at the potential health hazards of e-cigarettes. Smoking e-cigarettes is also referred to as “vaping.”

One of the recommendations outlined in the report includes restricting access to e-cigarettes. Currently, all 50 states and the District of Columbia restrict the sale of tobacco products to minors. “Extending such laws to include e-cigarettes can further protect youth from exposure to nicotine, which nearly all states have done,” the report says.

Specific strategies can be implemented such as placing restrictions on Internet sales of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, including requirements for verifying age and providing identification at the time of purchase and upon delivery, states the Surgeon General’s report.

Americans spent an estimated $3.5 billion on e-cigarette products last year, a sharp 40 percent increase from the previous year. Promoters of e-cigarettes have attracted young customers by using the same marketing and advertising tactics once used by Big Tobacco, according to the report.

“Companies are promoting their products through television and radio advertisements that use celebrities, sexual content, and claims of independence to glamorize these addictive products and make them appealing to young people,” said Thomas Frieden, M.D., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a foreword written for the Surgeon General’s report.

The report concludes that: “We must protect our nation’s young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated problems by immediately addressing e-cigarettes as an urgent public health problem. Now is the time to take action.”

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Eating Nuts Daily Linked to Lower Risks of Many Diseases, Premature Death

A new analysis of previous studies has reaffirmed that nuts — whether they’re almonds, pecans or pistachios — amount to very healthy treats.

A growing body of studies had already linked nut consumption to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. But the new review released in BMC Medicine journal this week found that nuts reduced the risk of a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. The analysis by an international team of researchers included a review of 29 former studies on the health benefits of nuts.

The review of data on more than 800,000 people found that those who had at least a handful, or 20 grams, of any type of nuts daily were 30 percent less likely to develop heart disease. A handful of nuts was found to reduce the chances of developing cancer by 15 percent. As for diabetes, a disease which affects more than 29.1 million people in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association, risks were cut by nearly 40 percent from merely snacking on a few nuts a day, researchers found.

The study concluded that the regular consumption of nuts lowered the overall risk of premature death by 22 percent.

Imperial College London professor Dagfinn Aune, who co-authored the study, said in a statement that all types of tree nuts including peanuts, which are actually legumes, are high in nutrients such as fiber, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats. These nutrients are helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease and reducing cholesterol levels. Some nuts, especially walnuts and pecan nuts, are also high in antioxidants, which can possibly help reduce cancer risks, other studies have shown.

“We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases, which is a strong indication that there is a real underlying relationship between nut consumption and different health outcomes,” said Aune. “It’s quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food.”

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Missing 1-2 Hours of Sleep Doubles Risk of Car Crash

Missing out on just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep can be dangerous to your health, and possibly pose safety risks to loved ones, by doubling your risk of a car crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, released just as the the holiday travel season looms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily. Moreover, drowsy driving is a factor in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year, according to AAA.

The new research found the increased risk of being involved in a car crash for drivers who sleep only five or six hours in a 24-hour period. And the less sleep the person behind the wheel gets, the higher the crash rate, researchers said. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s report, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement, shows that drivers missing 2 to 3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can increase their risk of a crash four-fold, compared to drivers getting the recommended seven hours of sleep.

“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a statement. “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.

Here’s the ratio breakdown of hours slept to increased risk of a car crash, according to the report.

  • Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
  • Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
  • Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
  • Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

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