Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Should E-Cigarettes Be Classified As A Pharmaceutical Product?

Given the apparent health study results and user’s anecdotal testimony that they are “healthier” than regular tobacco based cigarettes, are there any justification to classify e-cigarettes as a pharmaceutical product? 

By: Ringo Bones

During a recent European Union discussion via the powers-that-be at Brussels on whether to enact proposals to classify e-cigarettes as a pharmaceutical product and to restrict their sale only through pharmacies, may in the EU are now quite surprised on “why now”? After all, e-cigarettes had been freely sold in supermarkets and kiosks that used to sell conventional tobacco based cigarettes for years now. Even Katherine Devlin, head of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association was quite surprised by the recent proposal by Brussels. 

For those unfamiliar with the product, electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes turn a nicotine laced liquid into vapor via a built-in battery powered heater. For a number of years it has been used around the world by smokers who are trying to avoid the harmful effects of regular tobacco-based cigarettes – i.e. from the carcinogens found in tobacco like tar, polonium, etc. Given that e-cigarettes for all intents and purposes a way of taking nicotine  - i.e. a nicotine delivery system - for those who are chronically addicted to this tobacco derived alkaloid, shouldn’t e-cigarettes – like other nicotine delivery systems like nicotine patches and gums - be classified as a pharmaceutical product and be sold only in government licensed pharmacies like most tobacco smoking related pharmaceutical products? 

Even tough pro and anti smoking activists are still divided over the long term effects of e-cigarettes, the powers that be in the European Union’s main headquarters at Brussels are proposing for a more stringent health study on the  long-term health effects of e-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes. And also, Adrian Everrett, C.E.O. of e-lites says so far thoughout the world, nobody has yet died of e-cigarette use so far. Though there had been isolated reports of unscrupulous retailers selling e-cigarettes to minors who are not old enough to buy and / or publicly use conventional tobacco cigarettes. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Horsemeat: EU Public Health Risk?

Given that the European Union horsemeat scandal is already a 16-nation affair are there any real health risks in consuming horsemeat?

By: Ringo Bones

When the “horsemeat scandal” first broke out in the UK during the last week of January 2013 when meat inspectors found out that a London franchise of Burger King was using horsemeat instead of beef, many UK citizens are in an uproar because Brits are very sentimental and reverent about the heroism of horses as draft animals. Not just for their heroism in the trenches of Word War I but throughout the rest of British history for their largely undocumented role in nation building, not to mention there might already be a British horse awarded with the Dickens Medal for bravery during wartime. But are there any real health risks in eating horsemeat? After all, the French had been eating horsemeat as gourmet food for centuries and they seem reasonably healthy.

For want of a horse, a kingdom was lost – doth quote the great English bard Shakespeare and now it seems the recent 16-nation European Union wide horsemeat scandal has been handled by the powers-that-be as the clear and present danger du jour when it comes to threat to public health. A few days ago, the UK’s environment minister Owen Patterson stated that the main health risk of consuming horsemeat is the yet unknown effects of pharmaceuticals used in culled race and draft horses that had been turned into meat on the human physiology. Certain anti-inflammatory veterinary drugs confined to use in farm animals not destined for human consumption have yet hitherto unknown physiological effects on humans. Not to mention the narcotic effects of so called “horse tranquilizers” on those people who eat horsemeat from culled race and draft horses.

After a popular brand of supposedly all-beef boxed grocery lasagne called Findus was found to be using horsemeat instead of beef, the UK food investigation committee later traced the source of the horsemeat to a government run abattoir in Romania. Now the Romanian government is under investigation by EU food watchdogs on why their government abattoirs were allowed to label horsemeat as beef. 
Along with dogs, horses are one of the few animals that are revered here in the West and eating them is largely seen as taboo. Though in this day and age, there are already certain health risks that come with the consumption of “unseemly meats” due to the very fact that these use certain veterinary pharmaceuticals that are banned for use in farm animals destined for meat on the table like chickens, pigs and cows, draft and race horses and sheep herding dogs are NOT intended for human consumption so they are prescribed veterinary drugs that are not normally used in “culinary animals”; Thus making the regular consumption of their meat carry certain long-term and largely unknown health risks. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Not To Touch During Flu Season

Despite of everyone’s inherent susceptibility of falling ill every flu season, did you know that you can lessen your chances of catching the flu by avoiding touching certain everyday items?

By: Ringo Bones

Human ergonomic studies conducted since the 1960s have shown that we humans who work in an urban office setting grab up to 30 objects a minute while at the same duration of time also tend to touch our faces at least five times. Given that droplets of moisture laden with flu viruses tend to increase their chances of infecting us humans as they get close to the proximity to our respiratory tract – as in within our facial area, are there steps – i.e. precautionary measures - to be taken to lessen our chances of getting the flu during the dreaded flu season?

Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water or using an effective antimicrobial hand sanitizer before touching your face certainly helps, but there are everyday objects that you should be mindful of before touching them because they are seldom cleaned by those in charge of them. Restaurant menus are one of the usual magnets of microbial pathogens because they tend to be treated by antibacterial cleaning agents only after the restaurant’s closing time for the next day’s business. So too are fast-food and restaurant condiment dispensers that tend to be cleaned only after closing time.

Door knobs in public restrooms make excellent hubs for microbial pathogens on their way to infect us because users who go into the public restrooms tend to have already dirty hands and those exiting are more often than not – didn’t wash their hands thoroughly or used an effective hand sanitizer. And so too are water faucets in public restrooms, though you can lessen your chances of catching flu viruses from these by wiping them with paper towels before using them.

Shopping cart handles are also a veritable magnet of microbial pathogens and parents of toddlers should be wary because tots slung in the “kid holder” part of the shopping cart tend to lick the shopping cart handles with their tongues. But believe it or not, recent studies have found out that copper and silver coins do not harbor pathogens – contrary to earlier popular belief – because copper and silver ions formed on the surface of these types of coins tend to have excellent antibacterial properties. Ancient Egyptians even used copper and silver coins to purify drinking water by heating them and then dunking these metals into the container of water intended to be purified over 4,000 years ago.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Do Heavier People Live Longer Than Average?

Even though being “pleasingly plump” may only be in vogue during your grandparents’ generation, but do heavier people live a bit longer than average?

By: Ringo Bones

In a decade-long study conducted on 2.8 million research participants around the world by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown, surprisingly, that “slightly overweight people” - i.e. persons who weigh 5 to 6 percent above their ideal body mass index tend to live 5 to 6 percent longer than people who weigh within or below their ideal body mass index. Will the results of this research study undermine the commitment of those folks already sticking to their live-lengthening caloric restrictive diet regimen?

Even though morbidly obese people still have a way higher mortality rate in comparison to individuals who weigh within or slightly above their ideal body mass index, slightly heavier folks that weigh 5 to 6 percent above their ideal body mass index – especially if they can jog for a mile without collapsing – are living on average 5 to 6 percent longer than their thinner counterparts. The latest US-CDC study also show results that persons who weigh 5 to 6 percent above their ideal body mass index have a significantly statistically better chances of surviving during medical emergencies. Proving the old World War II-era adage of a “healthy pleasingly plump figure”?