Research

Teens Who Try e-Cigs More Likely to Smoke Regular Cigarettes, Study Says; Very Hot Drinks Can Pose Cancer Risk, WHO Warns

Older teens who try electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are six times more likely to trying regular cigarettes within two years, compared to those who have never tried the “vaping” devices, according to a new study.

E-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices that vaporize a fluid that includes nicotine and a flavor component. Using them is called “vaping.”

“We’re concerned that kids who experiment with e-cigarettes may be moving on to other types of tobacco products, like combustible cigarettes, which are arguably a lot more dangerous,” said University of Southern California researcher Jessica Barrington-Trimis, lead author of the new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The purpose of the latest study was to determine whether vaping devices help smokers quit or only encourage a move to traditional tobacco products.

The survey asked 11th and 12th graders around the age of 17, about their use of vaping products, including e-cigarettes, e-cigars and hookahs. Of the 300 participants, 146 used e-cigarettes, while 152 never even tried one. No one in the group admitted to smoking traditional cigarettes.

The researchers waited 16 months and again asked the original survey respondents about their smoking habits. The results showed 40 percent of the e-cigarette users were now smoking tobacco products, compared to only 11 percent of the teens who never even touched one.

Citing e-cigarettes as a health threat to “children, adolescents and adults,” the American Academy of Pediatrics have urged U.S. health officials to raise the minimum legal age for purchasing any nicotine product from 18 to 21. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration finalized a long-anticipated rule for regulating e-cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and other tobacco products. The rule includes banning the sale of e-cigs to anyone under 18.

A recent survey, supported by the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that e-cigarette use among high school students has surged from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015.

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Very Hot Drinks Can Pose Cancer Risk, WHO Warns

The agency that focuses on cancer risks for the World Health Organization is warning the public that  “very hot” drinks, around 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) or above — including water, coffee, tea and other beverages — probably increase the risk for cancer of the esophagus.

“These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of [esophageal] cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible,” says Dr Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

This conclusion is based on limited evidence from studies that showed a link between cancer of the esophagus and drinking very hot beverages. Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey, and South America, where tea or maté is traditionally drunk very hot (at about 70 °C), found that the risk of esophageal cancer shot up with the temperature of the consumer beverage.

“Smoking and alcohol drinking are major causes of esophageal cancer, particularly in many high-income countries,” said Dr Wild. “However, the majority of esophageal cancers occur in parts of Asia, South America, and East Africa, where regularly drinking very hot beverages is common and where the reasons for the high incidence of this cancer are not as well understood.”

Esophageal cancer is the eighth-most common cause of cancer worldwide, with approximately 400,000 deaths recorded in 2012 (5 percent of all cancer deaths). The proportion of esophageal cancer cases that may be linked to drinking very hot beverages is not known.

In a related matter, the WHO says that there is no conclusive evidence that drinking coffee causes cancer, a position that reverses a previous warning. The IARC had previously rated coffee as a “possibly carcinogenic.” Last year, a panel of scientists that help formulate the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines said there was “strong evidence” that three to five cups of coffee daily was not harmful, and that “moderate” consumption might reduce chronic disease. Other studies have found that coffee protects individuals from some types of cancer.

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