E-Cigarette Smoking: A Better Option or Just as Harmful?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 22, 2015

The Association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales, and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.

The ingredients used in e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, and the risks of smoking them are unclear.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are becoming a popular nicotine alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes. The e-cig industry is not federally regulated, and the potential hazards of smoking e-cig vapor has stirred up much debate. Some contend that smoking e-cigs may be a safe aid for weaning smokers off of cigarettes, while others are unsure about their safety.

Roughly 20 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes. Cigarettes are full of harmful carcinogens, tar, and the addictive nicotine that makes smoking a difficult habit to curb. It has been long known that smoking cigarettes can increase one’s risk for developing diseases such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease.

“E-cigarettes may help some people quit smoking, but the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends them only as a last resort,” says Elliott Antman, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Immediate Past President of the AHA, who is studying the effects of e-cigs. The AHA’s policy recommendation is that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products. The Association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales, and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.

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Improve Glucose Tolerance by Eating and Working Earlier in the Day

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 24, 2015

Eating late at night and working overnight both increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Contributor: Frank A. J. L. Scheer, PhD, is a neuroscientist and Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Research shows that eating later in the day lowers the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, also known as low glucose tolerance. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March 2015, also found that night shift workers who sleep during the day and work overnight had lower glucose tolerance than those who are awake during the day and sleep at night. This, in turn, can impact health issues such as weight gain, insulin resistance, and the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

The study compared circadian rhythms, sleep/wake cycles, and mealtimes to blood glucose levels in 14 healthy participants. All subjects participated in two protocols. In one protocol, the individuals were awake during the day, had their first meal at 8 a.m., their last meal at 8 p.m., and slept at night. In the second, they slept during the day, had their first meal at 8 p.m., stayed up all night, and had their last meal at 8 a.m.

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Whole Grains May Reduce Risk for Hypertension and Weight Gain

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 17, 2015

Studies suggest whole grains are healthful and reduce risk for disease and weight gain.

Whole grains are healthful carbohydrates that come from a wide variety of sources and deliver tremendous nutrients and health benefits. While some forms of carbohydrates, such as refined grains, may be unhealthy, research suggests that eating whole grain carbohydrates can prevent weight gain and reduce the risk for some diseases.

A research study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) discovered that men who consumed whole grains had a reduced risk for developing hypertension compared to those who didn’t eat them. The 18-year study observed the eating habits of more than 31,000  healthy men aged 40 to 75 years old. At the start of the study, all participants were  without known hypertension, cancer, stroke, or coronary heart disease. Every two years, the men completed food frequency questionnaires to assess their average whole-grain food intake. Compared to men who consumed little-to-no whole grains, men who consumed whole grains, especially in high amounts, had a significantly reduced risk for developing hypertension.

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Your Genes Might Explain Your Coffee Addiction

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 21, 2015

BWH researchers discover six new gene variations that may influence levels of coffee consumption.

Can you function without coffee? If you’re like a majority of Americans, your answer is probably no. More than 90 percent of adults regularly consume caffeine on a regular basis, with coffee being the main source. Not all adults drink coffee, however. Research suggests that genetics may explain why many adults habitually drink caffeine while others can’t tolerate it.

A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that coffee consumption habits can be partially attributed to our DNA. These findings come from a study observing DNA differences among 20,000 regular coffee drinkers of European and African American ancestry. Subjects self-reported how much coffee they drank on a regular basis. Results were compared to their DNA scans to test for any associations. The study discovered six new genetic variations that play a role in consumption behavior and metabolism of caffeine. Subjects in the study that had most of these genes present were found to consume more coffee as compared to those with fewer of these genes.

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