harm reduction

Scientific Reports published a paper on reducing medical radiation dosages, CT dose reduction factors in the thousands using X-ray phase contrast by Marcus Kitchen et. al. It is fairly technical -- more about physics and algorithms -- but it could be a very big deal. 

One of the difficulties in producing readable CT studies is that our soft tissue (everything except the bones) has similar density, so X-rays penetrate these tissues pretty much equally, and it is hard to distinguish one from another. There are a variety of techniques to improve differentiating these tissues and their anatomic relationships. The breakthrough reported here is that using a new algorithm defining edges, densities, and the like,...

Like most topics in America these days, e-cigarettes are controversial. The reason stems largely from the fact that the debate is driven less by science and more by religious zealotry.

On the one side is the pro-vaping lobby, who seems to believe that e-cigarettes are the greatest invention since the wheel. Not only are e-cigarettes effective for quitting smoking, they are safe and fun.

On the other side is the prohibitionists, who believe that the mere thought of vaping is blasphemous. According to them, e-cigarettes are just as bad as tobacco, and therefore the only acceptable public health policy is total abstention.

Both sides are wrong. While the vapers are right that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, it is unlikely that they are as safe as breathing fresh...

As a physician, I can unequivocally say that about 70 percent of the illnesses I have encountered has been either directly or indirectly related to cigarette smoking.  It is without a doubt an awful habit, and one whose psychological grip on the user is frighteningly powerful.   

At the American Council on Science and Health, we have always championed measures that improve public health outcomes – chief among them, advocating the use of electronic cigarettes.  We have written countless articles on the utility of e-cigarette use and its role in harm reduction.  This is why it was with great excitement when I read the new ...

E-cigarettes are "effective in helping people quit smoking" and "95% safer than smoking."* Additionally, there are "no health risks to bystanders."

What evil, conniving, greedy, Big Tobacco-loving, propaganda-spewing group of shills says that? The UK's National Health Service (NHS).

On its website, the NHS discusses a report issued by Public Health England (another UK government agency) that examined the available evidence on e-cigarettes. The report is unambiguous in...

The King County Health Department, which serves mostly the city of Seattle and its suburbs, has recently earned a reputation for being driven by politics rather than by evidence-based medicine or common sense.

Last month, the county decided that crisis pregnancy centers that don't perform abortions aren't "real healthcare." According to its website, Care Net -- a crisis pregnancy center in the Puget Sound region -- performs pregnancy tests, STD screens, and ultrasounds and provides prenatal education. Because such crisis centers are often faith-based, what they don't do is perform or encourage abortions.

That's anathema to Seattle, a city whose residents and politicians have little use for religion or...

Under the new director, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration just announced a new "comprehensive regulatory plan" to decrease the plague of tobacco-related deaths. While we're pleased to see the FDA continue to pay attention to this totally preventable cause of death, we're not sure that the steps they've outlined will all be effective in doing so.

One of the more questionable aspects of the new plan is the possible encouragement of producing cigarettes with lower nicotine levels as a way to make them less addictive. While we certainly agree that nicotine is highly...

Nicotine is one of the most addictive and widely used drugs in the world, bar none. And that's a big part of why it's so difficult for smokers to quit cigarettes. Of course, that's not the whole story, since there are replacement products that supply the drug without the damaging effects of inhaling smoke. However, these don't seem to be as satisfying since they don't mimic the movements and mode of nicotine delivery that accompany cigarette smoking.

Enter the electronic cigarette, or e-cig. The device can look like a cigarette (or cigar or pipe), but instead of burning tobacco, it provides a nicotine-containing vapor that the user inhales, thus getting a "hit" in the same way one would get from smoking. So, as a harm-reduction tool — to get smokers away from the deleterious...

One of my extended family members is a former smoker. Nagging him to stop did little good. Warning him against its health dangers produced similarly poor results. He was addicted, and he appeared to like smoking, anyway. 

Then e-cigarettes came along. After giving them a try, he quit cigarettes for good. No nagging was necessary. He received the same kick from vaping minus all the nasty smoke that makes cigarettes so dangerous. His blunted sense of smell and taste returned to normal and breathing became easier. 

His story is not unique. Many former smokers credit e-cigarettes with changing their lives for the better. A study in the journal Tobacco Control concluded that...

What goes up must come down.  There is no top without a bottom.  Two sides to every coin.  No front without a back.  A lid without a pot.  My cliche list is endless.  So, I will stop torturing you.

Just know, most arise from kernels of truth.

Alcohol is good and bad.  Makes some happy.  Others sad.  Amplifies joy.  Or, exacerbates decline.  It alienates.  It coalesces.  De-stresses and stresses.  It calms.  It kills.

You are the variable.  As is the dose.

Is ‘Moderation’ sexy? 

For those whose health benefits from moderate drinking exceed their drawbacks, it is.  Like most things, there are no absolutes or guarantees. No one size-fits-all.

According to the...

Courtesy Richard Levine/Corbis Courtesy Richard Levine/Corbis

A recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee issues a strange warning about e-cigarettes, saying that they may cause hearing loss among teenagers. The piece was authored by Dave Fabry, identified as the vice-president of audiology for Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, MN.

While the urge is to simply view this as fear-mongering by someone who does not understand nicotine modes of action (and confuses it with smoking, which...