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Men Who Don't Sleep May Die Sooner

HERSHEY, Pa., Sept. 1 (UPI) — Men who complain of chronic insomnia and who sleep less than 6 hours a night have an increased risk of dying, U.S. researchers say.

Principal investigator Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine and Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., and colleagues had 1,000 women with a mean age of 47 years, and 741 men with an average age of 50, provide a comprehensive sleep histories in which insomnia was defined as a complaint lasting at least one year. Each participant also received a physical exam and had sleep evaluated in a sleep laboratory where sleep duration was measured objectively by polysomnography.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, finds compared to men without insomnia who slept for 6 hours or more, men with chronic insomnia who slept for less than 6 hours were four times more likely to die during the 14-year follow-up period — after factoring in for body mass index, smoking, alcohol, depression and obstructive sleep apnea.

“Until now no study has demonstrated that insomnia is associated with mortality,” Vgontzas says in a statement. “Our different results are based on our novel approach to define insomnia both on a subjective complaint and the objective physiological marker of short sleep duration measured in the sleep lab.”

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Smoking May Increase Depression in Teens

TORONTO, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Teens may smoke to “self-medicate” against depression but researchers in Canada say smoking may increase depressive symptoms in some adolescents.

Lead author Michael Chaiton of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the University of Toronto and co-author Jennifer O’Loughlin of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre say the study involved 662 high-school teenagers who completed as many as 20 questionnaires from grades 7-11 about their use of cigarettes to affect mood.

“This observational study is one of the few to examine the perceived emotional benefits of smoking among adolescents,” Chaiton says in a statement. “Although cigarettes may appear to have self-medicating effects or to improve mood, in the long-term we found teens who started to smoke reported higher depressive symptoms.”

Study participants were divided into groups of: teens who never smoked; smokers who did not use cigarettes to self-medicate, improve mood or physical state; and smokers who used cigarettes to self-medicate.

Study participants were asked to rate on a rating scale depressive symptoms such as: felt too tired to do things; had trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; felt unhappy, sad, or depressed; felt hopeless about the future; felt nervous or tense; and worried too much about things.

“Smokers who used cigarettes as mood enhancers had higher risks of elevated depressive symptoms than teens who had never smoked,” O’Loughlin says.

The study findings are published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

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CDC: U.S. Teen Smoking Rate Decline Stalls

ATLANTA, Aug. 26 (UPI) — The rates of decline in smoking and experimenting with smoking have stalled among U.S. middle and high school students, federal health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released Thursday, says an analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2000 to 2009 finds teen cigarette smoking rates among high school students who say they have smoked in the past 30 days declined from 28 percent to 17.2 percent, and among middle-school students it dropped from 11 percent to 5.2 percent for the same time period.

However, from 2006 to 2009, the survey found that smoking rates declined from 19.8 percent to 17.2 percent among high school students and from 6.3 percent to 5.2 percent among middle school students, but these overall declines were not statistically significant, the report says.

CDC officials say further smoking reduction involves restrictions on advertising, promotion and availability of tobacco products to youth as well as restricting smoking in public places and tobacco product price increases, which often puts smoking out of reach of teenagers.

Eighty percent of U.S. adult smokers begin before the age of 18, the report says.

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CDC: U.S. Teen Smoking Rate Unchanged

ATLANTA, Aug. 26 (UPI) — Smoking and experimenting with smoking cigarettes has declined in U.S. middle-school and high-schools students, federal health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released Thursday, says an analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2000 to 2009 finds no significant declines in tobacco used from 2006 to 2009.

“This lack of significant change indicates that the current rate of decline in tobacco use is relatively slow,” the report says.

“The report also indicates that overall, the percentage of middle- and high-school students who have never tried cigarettes but are open to trying described as ‘susceptibility’ has not changed.”

CDC health officials say further smoking reduction involves restrictions on advertising, promotion and availability of tobacco products to youth as well as restricting smoking in public places and tobacco product price increases, which often puts smoking out of reach of teenagers.

Eighty percent of U.S. adult smokers begin before the age of 18, the report says.

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Air Force Personnel Warned of E-cigarettes

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) — The surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force warns all personnel about the danger of e-cigarettes and that they are banned wherever smoking is banned.

Lt. Gen. Charles B. Green, surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force, says in a memo to all Air Force personnel that advertisements may claim electronic cigarettes are a healthier way to smoke, but a sample tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration contained diethylene glycol — a toxic chemical used in anti-freeze.

Manufacturers offer cartridges with decreasing levels of nicotine with the idea that they can be used to help someone quit smoking, Green says.

“No studies have been done to demonstrate the safety or effectiveness of these products as tobacco cessation aids and they are not approved by the FDA as a drug delivery device,” Green says in the memorandum.

“Commanders also need to be aware that the cartridges used in these devices are replaceable and could be used to discreetly deliver substances other than nicotine.”

The FDA has warned e-cigarettes pose acute health risks and the devices also present a serious risk of addicting new users, including children.

E-cigarette users suffer from potentially serious symptoms including racing pulse, dizziness, slurred speech, mouth ulcers, heartburn, coughing, diarrhea and sore throat, the FDA says.

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Nicotine Binding, Breast Cancer Linked

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Aug. 24 (UPI) — A researcher in Taipei says nicotine may play a role in promoting breast cancer.

Yuan-Soon Ho of the Taipei Medical University and colleagues looked at how nicotine acts on the molecular level.

They find human breast cancer cells consistently produced the alpha 9 subunit of the nicotine acetylcholine receptor — known to promote smoking addiction — and that expression was higher in advanced-stage breast cancer compared with early-stage cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, suggests nicotine binding to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor may also directly promote the development of breast cancer.

Ho and colleagues studied nicotinic acetylcholine receptor cancer cells by looking at 276 breast tumor samples from anonymous donors to the Taipei Medical University Hospital.

“These results imply that receptor-mediated carcinogenic signals play a decisive role in biological functions related to human breast cancer development,” the researchers say in a statement.

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Genome Study: No Level of Smoking Safe

NEW YORK, Aug. 21 (UPI) — An infrequent cigarette, or being exposed to secondhand smoke, may be doing more harm than people think, U.S. researchers found.

Senior author Dr. Ronald Crystal, chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, says genes commonly activated in the cells of heavy smokers are also turned on or off after very low-level exposures.

“Even at the lowest detectable levels of exposure, we found direct effects on the functioning of genes within the cells lining the airways,” Crystal says in a statement.

Crystal and colleagues tested 121 people who were non-smokers, active smokers and low exposure smokers for urine levels of nicotine and cotinine — markers of cigarette smoking within the body.

The researchers scanned each study participant’s entire genome to determine which genes were either activated or deactivated in cells lining the airways.

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, finds there was no level of nicotine or cotinine that did not also correlate with genetic abnormalities.

“This means that no level of smoking, or exposure to secondhand smoke, is safe,” Crystal says.

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Survey: More Favor Restaurant Smoking Ban

PRINCETON, N.J., Aug. 7 (UPI) — Fifty-nine percent of U.S. adults say smoking should be banned in restaurants, up 5 percentage points from 2007, a survey indicates.

However, the USA Today/Gallup telephone — land line and cellphone — poll of 1,020 U.S. adults, says 23 percent say there should be no smoking restrictions in bars.

From 1987, when Gallup first started polling on the issue of smoking in public places, the percentage of regular cigarette smokers among the U.S. adult population as measured by Gallup has declined from 30 percent to 22 percent.

Fifty-five percent of those polled say secondhand smoke poses a significant health risk for non-smokers, compared with 36 percent in 1994, the year Gallup first measured opinions involving secondhand smoke.

Currently, half of U.S. states have broad bans on smoking in indoor public places, such as workplaces, public buildings, restaurants and bars. The rest of the states have more limited restrictions, such as requiring designated smoking areas in restaurants and workplaces, or prohibiting smoking only in government buildings and schools.

The poll was conducted July 8-11 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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Study: Smokers Can 'out-think' Cravings

HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 7 (UPI) — Smokers trying to quit the habit can reduce their cravings with the right kind of thinking about the consequences of their addiction, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at the Yale School of Medicine say thinking about the long-term effects of smoking can amp up the activity in the brain responsible for rational thought, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported Saturday.

Research with smokers found that thinking about the long-term consequences decreased activity in the striatum — the area of the brain responsible for drug cravings and reward-seeking behavior –while increasing activity in the area associated with rational thought, the prefrontal cortex.

In other words, training yourself to think about long-term consequences, instead of short-term satisfactions, can help you control cravings, they said.

“Think about how a food commercial works, when you see a picture of a hot stack of pancakes,” Hedy Kober, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale, says. “People immediately think ‘That looks so good.’ They think about the immediate sensual experience. It’s the same with cigarettes.

“Craving is like a wave; it comes up and it gets really intense and goes away even if you don’t do anything,” Kober says. “But if smokers are taught what they can do in the moment, they can have control.”

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Smoking, Piercing Up Breast Abscess Risk

IOWA CITY, Iowa, Aug. 6 (UPI) — Breast abscesses, inflammatory lesions that are painful, appear at much higher rates in women who smoke or pierce their nipples, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Vinod Gollapalli — a postdoctoral fellow in the department of surgery at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, Iowa, says a breast abscess tends to recur at rates as high as 40 percent to 50 percent but until now there has been a lack of research on the risk factors associated with the condition.

Using surgical and radiologic databases at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the researchers identified 68 patients with a diagnosis of breast abscess with no previous history of breast cancer, breast radiation therapy, or breast surgery within the past 12 months.

“Nearly 60 percent of patients with a recurrence of breast abscess were heavy smokers — 10 cigarettes a day,” Gollapalli says in a statement. “Since smoking appears to be a strong risk factor for both causing breast abscess and its recurrence, we recommend patients should be counseled to quit smoking as an integral part of treatment.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

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