by Ryan Fu •
“There’s no such thing as a safe cigarette.” This is a line that has been used to describe menthols, filtered cigarettes, and slims, but it also applies to the latest product for smokers: electronic cigarettes. They have been widely heralded by users and manufacturers as a completely harmless smoking alternative, but there isn’t much research to back up that statement. Recent studies have shown that they still contain tiny particles that can irritate lung tissue and could cause disease.
Modern electronic cigarettes have been available for a decade and have been booming in popularity. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigs don’t burn dried tobacco leaves doused in nearly 600 additives; 69 of which are carcinogenic. Instead, a battery-powered device heats a liquid solution (called e-liquid) of nicotine and flavors, creating an aerosol that is inhaled to simulate the physical sensation of smoking in a process known as “vaping”.
Higher end models of e-cigs allow the user to adjust the voltage from the battery, which regulates the intensity of the heating element. As the solution gets hotter, it intensifies the effect of the nicotine hit. Unfortunately, these higher temperatures also affect the glycerin and propylene glycol used as solvents within the e-liquid, converting them to carbonyls found in cigarettes such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Earlier this year, a study found that increasing an e-cig’s voltage from 3.2V to 4.8V while using an e-liquid with both solvents produced almost as much formaldehyde as a traditional cigarette. While the human body produces formaldehyde as a byproduct of normal metabolic activity in the cells, it is suspected of being carcinogenic when inhaled. The same study also found that at lower voltages, e-cigs produced up to 800 times less formaldehyde than a cigarette. While this might sound a lot safer, the size of the vapor particles and the delivery method into the lungs heavily impact the risk of disease.
Particles found in inhaled cigarette smoke have a median size of 0.3-0.5 microns. Testing has found that the e-cigarette particles have a median of 0.18-0.27 microns. About 40% of these particles can travel deep into the lungs and become embedded in the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs. Even if the particle itself isn’t toxic, the size alone places a burden on the lungs and can cause disease.
As vaping is still fairly new, there just has not been enough time to do the necessary long-term studies regarding health risks. Though these early studies do hint that e-cigs are a better option than traditional smoking, that isn’t really saying a lot, because cigarettes are pretty terrible. Even if vaping is better than smoking, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. As its popularity continues to grow, it is important to understand the full risk associated with vaping for both the user and those exposed to the vapor secondhand.
Credit Janet Raloff, Science News
What a crazy but good episode of the Leftovers this week. First off, I’ve never seen someone really get stoned before unless you count last night when I gave my friend a pot brownie in which he got really stoned. (Sorry, I had too) This episode reminded of the Fight Club when Meat Loaf’s character Robert Paulsen got killed for their cause, making him a martyr for their group. The gruesome death of Gladys caused many people of the Guilty Remnant to question what they were going, especially Laurie Garvey. But just like Liv Tyler’s character calmly tells us, it was just a matter of time before people pushed back. The GRs finally pushed enough buttons to cause many people including one organization to react violently. As a society at what point do we chose to say that a particular group aren’t part of the human race because their values don’t match ours? Do we have the right to treat them less than human beings?
After finding the mangled body Gladys, Laurie has a mini panic attack, which causes the leader of the GRs, Patty Levin, to take Laurie to a retreat to calm her down. At the retreat, Patty tells Laurie to take a break from being a GR, giving her civilian clothes, buying her breakfast and allowing her to talk. But Laurie does not utter a single word as Patty tells her that she brought Gladys there a year ago in the same booth, in which Patty wants to know if she is still part of the team because in her words,
“There is no room for doubt. Doubt is going to fire you up until you are ash.”
Laurie silently reassures Patty that she’s still down for the cause while Chief Garvey is starting to realize that everything he does for the town is going unnoticed. As he tries to protect the people of Mapleton with a mandatory curfew, the town people turn on him especially his new buddy/dog killer, Dean, tells the Chief why should we even care about the GRs, they don’t care about us, which leads the council to not pass the curfew. Garvey still decides to protect the GRs by giving them “rape whistles” but he also is trying to figure out where his wife is with the help of Liv Tyler’s character, Meg, but she tells him,
“She’s not your wife anymore.”
To exacerbate Chief Garvey’s problems, he finds out the ATFEC would gladly exterminate the GRs as the agent tells Garvey that the group are an infestation that should be taken care of like rodents. This leads Garvey to wonder what the hell is going on in his life? He is starting to lose his mind and material things like his white shirts and bagels but he is also starting to lose his family which leads him to drink more as we see the Chief slowly coming apart. He realizes he still has to be strong for his daughter, which we can see in a great scene with Garvey and his daughter, telling her that he is divorcing her mother, Laurie.
That scene was very powerful because Garvey and his daughter are still in love with Laurie but they recognize that she is not the same person anymore. Really good episode of the Leftovers but fantastic acting on the part of the actors and actresses especially from Justin Theroux, in which I hope Chief Garvey gets his shit together because I think there is going to be “shit-storm” coming soon from different groups that are trying to get the heart and minds of the people.
NCIS actress Pauley Perrette is warning fans about the dangers of hair dye after suffering a severe allergic reaction to her trademark ink-black color.
Many consumers are growing in their watchfulness as to what goes in their bodies, but health can be as greatly impacted by what goes on their bodies. We already realize that chemicals in cosmetics such as skin creams can break through the skin barrier, but what about the chemicals in hair coloring? In response to recent bad press about hair dyes, many have turned to semi-permanent solutions. However, there is reason to question the safety in the substances used in these products as well. If you are among the 50% of women who color their hair, or a man who covers his gray, you might want to do more investigation into your favorite hair coloring.
The most problematic hair dye ingredient is a family of chemicals called Arylamines. Arylamines are a known risk factor for bladder cancer and have been found to cause cancer in experimental animals. One of these is p-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is listed on the box of even non-permanent “natural” products. It is an important ingredient in hair coloring because it lasts through many washings and perming is possible with it. PPD hair dyes usually come packaged as 2 bottles, one containing the PPD dye preparation and the other containing the developer or oxidizer. PPD is a colorless substance that requires oxygen for it to become colored. It is this intermediate, partially oxidized state that may cause allergy in sensitive individuals. Fully oxidized PPD is not a sensitizer, so individuals with PPD allergy can wear wigs or fur coats dyed with PPD safely.
Another factor involves the mixing of hydrogen peroxide with ammonia. Research has found that this combination may create potentially carcinogenic chemicals that don’t normally exist in the two liquids prior to mixing them together.
A third factor is that the darker dyes are more challenging as they contain greater levels of chemicals. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) stated that skin contact with PPD should be prevented in order to avoid the allergic reactions, and indeed, the FDA has NOT approved its use for direct skin application. This is an oxymoron, though, as it is next to impossible to avoid contact with the skin when applying hair color.
Safer alternatives to ammonia and peroxide are being developed. One company’s organic and mineral research laboratory has found a way of making peroxide from avocado oil and it is far less irritating to the skin. They have also discovered an alternative to ammonia. Derived from coconut oil, it isn’t irritating and has no nasty smell. Look for products that are ammonia and peroxide-free and use vegetable-based dyes. A search on the web for “natural hair colorings” should turn up a few good leads. Two examples are Planet Organic and Aveda. Some of these companies state that their formulas provide longer lasting color than the older vegetable rinses.
Many people have tried henna as a solution. Henna’s effect lasts longer than a vegetable rinse and adds a wonderful shine, highlights and bounce to the hair. Henna products, which are gluten-free and animal-cruelty-free, are not always a red color, but all henna contains and imparts a little red. Today this natural dye comes in a wide array of shades, not just red, but will not lighten hair. Henna enhances your natural color rather than totally covering it, which allows some of your natural highlights to come through. The coating and sealing advantages mentioned above are inherent with henna.
As always, it is up to you, the consumer, to do the research and to become responsible for your own health, in regard to what goes on your body in addition to what goes in it.
I cried when I watched this video. A frightening reality planted itself in front of me as I remembered that my own grandmother had passed away from diabetes almost 20 years ago. She spent her last years injecting multiple daily insulin shots, in and out of a hospital bed 300 km away from her hometown. I remember my mother telling me that nana used to drink a lot of soda.
The implications of a disease are hard to fully grasp unless you or someone you love has suffered through it. But even more horrifying than my nan’s sole story, is the fact that diabetes is a reality for millions of people worldwide at this very moment. In America alone, over 29 million people were diagnosed with diabetes in 2012. It stands as the 7th leading cause of death in that country.
According to these statistics, Americans consume close to 50 billion liters of soda per year, which equates to about 216 liters, or about 57 gallons per person. That is a colossal amount of sugar. And not just any sugar, but some of the worst we know of – fructose, in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Tragically, high fructose corn syrup, in the form of soda, has become the number one source of calories in the United States, and it is very clear that it is the primary cause of the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
Soda companies are masters at fooling customers and masking their products as fun, cool and delicious. Take this commercial for example:
The “Thin Line” spoken poem not only exposes the hard reality about diabetes, but it also raises attention around the specific socio-economic demographic who are commonly affected by this disease,
“Nearly 1 in 2 children of color born in the year 2000 will get diabetes in their lifetime.”
The truth is that most low-income families often end up spending what little they have on these junk food products because they don’t have access to healthier options. The consequences are heartbreaking and pretty terrifying. With the ever-increasing cost of living and declining wages, more and more families are being forced into poverty as the middle class is being eradicated.
It may seem like common sense for some to stray far away from high-fructose corn syrup sodas, but a large majority of the population are not properly educated on the implications of poor nutrition, a vast percentage of these people being low-income families.
If someone you know consumes soda on a regular basis, be the one to supply them with the facts they need to know. Soda is an empty, modified can of death.
Raise your voice today and join the conversation about diabetes.
Credit: Collective Evolution