Monthly Archives: May 2005

‘Prince of Sumo’ dead at 55

  • 5/31/2005
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • CNN News (www.cnn.com)

Mitsuru Hanada, a legendary former ozeki from one of Japan’s most powerful sumo dynasties, died Monday at 55, sumo officials said. Hanada, more commonly known by his title as stablemaster Futagoyama, died at a Tokyo hospital at 5:40 p.m. (0840 GMT), the Japan Sumo Association announced.

NHK public broadcaster said the cause was a type of oral cancer.

Hanada, during his 16-year career in the ring, came to be known affectionately as the “Prince of Sumo,” rising to the sport’s second-highest rank of ozeki.

He was also the father of the immensely popular brothers, former yokozunas Takanohana and Wakanohana, who dominated the sport in the 1990s.

Hanada, who also fought under the ring name of Takanohana, rose to sumo’s top makuuchi division at the record early age of 18 under the training of his elder brother, Katsuji, the first Wakanohana and also a grand champion.

But he was never able to make it to sumo’s top rank of yokozuna despite winning two Emperor’s Cups. He retired in 1981 and later became director of the Japan Sumo Association.

May, 2005|Archive|

Study: Tobacco Cos. Wooed Female Smokers

  • 5/31/2005
  • Boston, MA
  • Michael Kunzelman
  • apnews.myway.com

Tobacco companies did elaborate research on women to figure out how to hook them on smoking – even toying with the idea of chocolate-flavored cigarettes that would curb appetite, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health said they examined more than 7 million documents – some dating back to 1969, others as recent as 2000 – for new details about the industry’s efforts to lure more women smokers.

Carrie Carpenter, the study’s lead author, said companies’ research went far beyond a marketing or advertising campaign.

“They did so much research in such a sophisticated way,” she said. “Women should know how far the tobacco industry went to exploit them.”

The report, published in the June issue of the journal Addiction, says tobacco companies looked for ways to modify their cigarettes to give women the illusion they could puff their way into a better life.

One of the documents, a 1993 internal report from Phillip Morris, extolled the virtues of making a longer, slimmer cigarette that offered the false promise of a “healthier” product.

“Most smokers have little notion of their brand’s tar and nicotine levels,” the report states. “Perception is more important than reality, and in this case the perception is of reduced tobacco consumption.”

A Phillip Morris spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying the company hasn’t had a chance to fully review it.

The Harvard researchers spent more than a year sifting through an online database of internal documents made public following the 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and 46 states.

Carpenter said they found at least 320 documents that focused on women’s smoking patterns, including a 1982 report from British-American Tobacco Co. that said women buy cigarettes to help them “cope with neuroticism.”

“We can safely conclude that the strength of cigarettes that are purchased by women is related to their degree of neuroticism,” the report stated. Other internal studies showed that companies explored adding appetite suppressants to cigarettes.

In 1980, for instance, R.J. Reynolds Co. proposed creating a cigarette with a “unique flavor that decreases a smoker’s appetite, including brandy, chocolate, chocolate mint, cinnamon, spearmint and honey.” However, researchers didn’t find any evidence they followed through with that idea.

The report says worldwide smoking rates among women are expected to increase 20 percent by 2025, “driven by the growth of female markets in developing countries,” while men’s smoking rates are steadily declining.

Jack Henningfield, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he hopes the report serves as a “call to action” for government officials to focus their anti-smoking efforts on women, particularly in developing countries.

“It’s a time bomb,” said Henningfield, director of the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Program at Johns Hopkins. “They’ve got to act now to prevent the time bomb from exploding.”

Carpenter said there is no evidence in the trove of documents that suggests tobacco companies have stopped targeting women.

“Without regulation from government agencies, we don’t know what they’re doing today,” she added.

The Harvard research project was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.

May, 2005|Archive|

Controlling oral cancer

  • 5/31/2005
  • London, England
  • British Dental Journal (2005); 198, 605. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4812409

Fifty-seven countries have agreed a range of approaches to control oral cancer worldwide. The countries have all committed to the Crete Declaration, a statement on approaches for effective control of oral cancer at a global level.

The participants of the 10th International Congress on Oral Cancer which took place in April in Crete, Greece, welcomed the initiative to analyse the evidence on oral cancer and the implications for prevention and public health programmes.

They also emphasised that oral health is an integral part of general health and wellbeing and expressed concern about the neglected burden of oral cancer which particularly affects developing countries with low availability of prevention programmes and oral health services.

In the declaration, the participants affirmed their commitment to oral health and general health as a basic human right.

They resolved to support the work carried out by national and international health authorities, research institutions, non-governmental organisations and civil society for the effective control of oral cancer.

They also looked at areas of work that should be strengthened. These included the provision of systematic epidemiological information on prevalences of oral cancer and cancer risks in countries, particularly in the developing world and promotion of research into understanding biological, behavioural and psychosocial factors in oral cancer, emphasising the inter-relationship between oral health and general health.

May, 2005|Archive|

Int’l No-Tobacco Day observed with warnings on ill-effects of smoking

  • 5/31/2005
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Christina I. Hermoso
  • The Manila Bulletin Online (www.mb.com.ph)

The country joins the rest of the world in today’s observance of World No-Tobacco Day which highlights the ill-effects of tobacco on the body. In the Philippines, statistics showed that 16.5 percent of the population are smokers with women constituting nearly half of the total figure.

Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of death.

Tobacco claims 4.9 million lives a year, and if the present consumption patterns continue, the number of deaths will increase to 10 million by the year 2020, 70% of which will occur in developing countries.

There are an estimated 1.3 billion smokers and half of them (some 650 million people) are expected to die prematurely of a tobacco-related disease.

At the current rate, the number of smokers will rise from today’s 1.3 billion to 1.7 billion by 2025.

The Philippines Department of Health (DoH), which leads in the observance, has issued a warning on the long-term effects of cigarette smoking.

“Chemicals in tobacco smoke include nicotine and tar which get deposited in the bronchi and the lungs. The other harmful chemicals are acetone, ammonia, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, methane and benzopyrene which are also considered as major contributory factors responsible for smoking-related diseases,” said the DoH.

“Long-term smoking has been linked to various health problems and has been found to aggravate existing health conditions,” the DoH said.

Long-term effects of cigarette smoking, according to health authorities, include:

1. Nicotine Addiction.

2. Coronary artery diseases — smoking has been found to be responsible for more than 20 percent of deaths.

3. Heart disease — Smokers in their 30s and 40s have a heart attack risk five times higher than non-smokers.

4. Hardening of arteries and complication of blocked arteries, hypertension and blood clots.

5. Stroke — a pack of cigarette a day increases the risk of stroke 2 1/2 times.

6. Peptic ulcer.

7. Lung diseases — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In the 1990s, smoking accounted for 85,000 of COPD-related deaths.

8. Cancers — Smokers are prone to oral cancer as well as cancer of the respiratory tract, oral cavity, nose pharynx, larynx, lung, cervix, urinary bladder, kidneys and pancreas. Eighty percent of all cases of lung cancer are smoking-related.

9. Diseases of the oral cavity — irritation and infection of the teeth and gums and

10. Delayed healing of wounds.

In women, long-term smoking has been found to cause reproductive disturbances (infertility) and problems during pregnancy like fetal abnormalities and even death and low birth weight in infants.

Asia tightens ban on smoking but manufacturers still search for openings

Hong Kong – Asian governments are tightening antismoking laws around the region, but that has not prevented giant tobacco companies from searching out new markets.

As the world marks international No-Smoking Day Tuesday, Asian authorities, emboldened by the successful implementation of bans in Europe and the United States, are broadening the scope of existing curbs and mulling wide-ranging new prohibition laws.

Manufacturers, however, continue to exploit poor health awareness in countries like China and Indonesia, which have seen increased investment by tobacco firms.

Asia accounts for an estimated half of the world’s 1.4 billion smokers, with the World Health Organization calculating that 50,000 teenagers take up the habit each day.

Smoking’s huge cost to national health budgets have motivated wealthy nations such as Australia and New Zealand to implement bans on smoking in public places.

Other nations are taking their lead. Taiwan in March, for instance, took the first step towards an anti-smoking policy with proposed fines for pregnant women caught lighting up.

“Once momentum is set in one country you usually find others follow,” said Anelise Connell, vice-chairman of Hong Kong’s antismoking Clear the Air campaign. “The signs are good around the region.”

Hong Kong moved closer to a ban when the government late last year said it would introduce legislation to criminalize smoking in public. In April it widened the proposal to include all indoor places.

Smoking, which is estimated to kill about 5,700 of Hong Kong’s 6.9 million population every year, is already banned in cinemas, shopping malls, supermarkets, banks and department stores.

Australia’s antismoking laws, where lighting up is already banned in bars and restaurants, got even tougher this month when the powerful anti-smoking lobby and its consumer watchdog forced two of the country’s three largest tobacco firms to drop the terms ‘’light’’ and ‘’mild’’ from their products after lengthy negotiations.

Laws making tobacco companies place large, graphic pictures of diseased body parts caused by smoking-related illness on cigarette packets will also come into force later this year.

Despite advances, two of Asia’s largest smoking nations — China and Indonesia — are increasingly seen by cigarette manufacturers as among the last hopes for their ailing industry.

China has about 350 million smokers, some 36 percent of its population of 1.3 billion and 70 percent of all men. Awareness about its health impact is extremely low; about a million people die each year from smoking-related illnesses.

While Beijing has signed, but has yet to ratify, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into force in March, change is likely to be slow as some provinces, such as Yunnan, rely on the majority of their government revenue from tobacco profit.

May, 2005|Archive|

USF finance grad opens Temple Terrace hookah bar

  • 5/31/2005
  • Temple Terrace, FL
  • Stephanie Hayes
  • The Kansas City Star (www.kansascity.com)

Richard Preston’s hookah pipe arrives at his table at the Meridian Hookah Lounge, and he takes a drag.

The pipe, a centuriesold worldly tradition, is now on the lips of a 20-year-old heavy-metal enthusiast. Dressed in black, Preston sucks lemon-lime flavored tobacco smoke from a twisting tube and leans back, awash in the perfumed haze. He is mellow but talkative.

“I worked my tail off today,” says the Papa John’s employee and University of Tampa student. “I come up here and it’s like, “What’s work?”‘

He shares the sofa with Jennifer Goubeaud, a 20-year-old University of South Florida psychology major. She smiles and sums up why college students are racing to try the hookah’s sweet-tasting tobacco.

“It’s something good and legal to smoke,” she says.

The hookah, also known as the hubble-bubble or narghile, consists of a bowl connected to a vase of water with a long tube and mouthpiece. Shisha, a sticky, wet cocktail of tobacco, molasses and fruit, sits inside the bowl with a layer of foil and a hot coal on top. The smoke cools by passing through water.

Between 200 and 300 hookah bars have opened in the country in the past five years, according to Smokeshop Magazine .

Marc Karimi could be mistaken for a customer at Meridian. He has young skin, dark eyes and clean-cut hair. The 21-year-old nestles into a group of college students on a circular sofa.

Karimi, a USF graduate, owns Meridian. The lounge’s red walls surround couches, round tables and a small stage where singer Colt Clark strums tunes on an acoustic guitar. The lighting is low, the vibe is clubby and the art is funky.

Late on a Wednesday night, Karimi watches his business crawl with customers, mostly college students. It’s the last thing he imagined when he bought a hookah pipe for decoration, “just a thing to have in my house.”

“One of my buddies came over and we just decided to actually smoke it,” Karimi says. “We smoked it and we were like, “Wow, you get a little buzz from it.”‘

The pipe became a hit at Karimi’s Sigma Chi fraternity parties, and Karimi took notice. He read up on hookah bars and wrote a 120-page business plan as a thesis for an honors program. After graduating in 2004 with a finance degree, he shopped for locations around the college.

Karimi, who works as a business analyst for an investment company during the day, found a home for Meridian and opened the bar last August.

Customers are 18 and older and pay a $7 to $10 cover charge for unlimited smoking. Flavors range from strawberry, apple and mango to more creative concoctions like “purple gorilla” and “sweet love.” The full menu is listed on the lounge Web site, usfhookah.com.

Coffee and soft drinks are available, but alcohol and food are not. On different nights, entertainment includes a belly dancer, a masseuse, a DJ, live music and an open mike.

What may smell like roses to hookah fans concerns others.

“Because (the hookah) is shared in a very social setting, people tend to smoke frequently and for a longer duration,” says Samira Asma, associate director for global tobacco programs at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hookah smoking can cause mouth cancer, and because of swallowed juices, stomach and esophagus cancer, says Asma. Studies from the Middle East and India show that lung disease, low-birth weight newborns and high carbon dioxide blood levels are also prevalent.

Asma says that most young people are oblivious to the risks, based on a 2002 CDC focus group study.

May, 2005|Archive|

Saliva may replace blood as test for disease

  • 5/31/2005
  • Boston, MA
  • Judy Foreman
  • Boston Globe

Within two years, you may be able to go for a regular dental visit, spit into a cup and, before your appointment is over, find out from an analysis of your saliva whether you’re at risk for oral cancer. Currently, dentists have to do a thorough mouth exam to probe for this disease, which will strike more than 28,000 Americans this year and kill more than 7,000.

Within a few more years, you may be able — with a fancier spit test — to find out if you’re at risk for a number of other diseases, including breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’re among the avant garde, you might even have a tiny chip implanted in your cheek to monitor proteins in saliva such as C-reactive protein, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The chip could sound an alarm — maybe a beep, maybe an electronic message to your doctor — whenever levels of a particular protein drift too high or too low.

Until a few years ago, the technology to analyze minute quantities of genetic material and proteins in saliva was not good enough for many of the tests doctors want to do or tests consumers could do in their homes, said Dr. David Wong, associate dean of research at the UCLA School of Dentistry.

In the brave new world of genomics and proteomics — the study of genes and the proteins they make — the best body fluid to analyze disease risk may soon be saliva, not blood.

Saliva, the slippery fluid that helps moisten and digest food, is a medical goldmine because it is almost identical to the clear part of blood, but with everything, including infectious organisms, present in weaker concentrations.

Saliva testing is less invasive, less painful, less likely to cause infection and potentially cheaper than blood testing because there’s no need for a phlebotomist to draw blood. And because it’s so easy to test saliva repeatedly during the day, doctors believe they will be able to use saliva-based tests to keep track of real-time physiological changes, such as how an infection is responding to antibiotics.

Researchers have long been fascinated by what can be studied in saliva, and there are already saliva-based tests on the market to detect the presence of the AIDS virus, alcohol, illicit drugs, the influenza virus, hormones that signal premature labor or ovulation, as well as levels of testosterone, estrogen or the stress hormone, cortisol. Some tests and saliva-collection kits are approved for home use, though many others are not.

“As a screening test, the beauty of saliva is the ease with which the sample can be obtained,” said Dr. Stephen Sonis, chief of oral medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and senior surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

To encourage development of salivary tests, the National Center for Dental and Craniofacial Research has earmarked $64 million, said Larry Tabak, the center’s director.

The institute is putting an additional $15 million into a totally new idea: Compiling a complete catalog of all the proteins in saliva, called the Salivary Proteome Program. By knowing normal levels, tests can be developed to tell whether protein levels become abnormal, said Wong, who heads a major portion of the cataloging effort.

In a small study reported late last year, Wong’s team discovered that, out of about 3,000 distinct bits of genetic material called RNA in saliva, the presence of four particular ones suggests cancer of the mouth, tongue, larynx or pharynx — before symptoms are apparent. When these four RNA molecules are all present, there’s a 91 percent chance that the person has oral cancer, said Wong, though it’s not clear yet whether these bits of RNA are detectable because their corresponding genes are activated or whether they are simply a sign of the body’s inflammatory response to the cancer.

In April, Dr. Joseph Califano, associate professor of head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, reported on a study looking at saliva samples from 94 people with oral cancer and 656 healthy volunteers. Increases in another type of genetic material, mitochondrial DNA, are a reliable marker for head and neck cancer, he said. An increase in mitochondrial DNA in saliva is also associated with smoking, he said, even if the person stopped smoking 20 years earlier.

A routine screening test for oral cancer using saliva “is the future,” Califano said, once the kinks have been worked out. But, “even if you caught only 60 percent of the people with cancer, that would help because this cancer has a 50 percent mortality rate.”

Other researchers have already shown that proteins such as her-2-neu and ca-125 — linked, respectively, to breast and ovarian cancer — can be detected in saliva, suggesting that a screening test for these cancers could also be developed. Even a person’s risk for depression and substance abuse and his or her chance of responding to antidepressant medications may be amenable to saliva testing, said Dr. Charles Glatt, a psychiatrist, geneticist and neuroscientist at UCLA.

Currently, researchers are trying to determine whether saliva DNA testing can accurately assess how well a person’s brain controls levels of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter linked to depression.

Not all diseases are yielding easily to saliva detection, though. It would be a huge boon if diabetics, for instance, could monitor their saliva instead of their blood for sugar levels. But, so far, saliva-based sugar tests have not worked, said Wong, who remains hopeful that other markers in saliva may yet be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes.

At the very least, these and other new studies constitute a “proof of principle” that, with ever-improving detection technology, saliva may become the diagnostic fluid of the future.

May, 2005|Archive|

FDA Unravels The Cancer Miracle

  • 5/31/2005
  • New York, NY
  • Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
  • Forbes.com

Cancer survival rates are climbing. Earlier detection is one reason. Another is the new medicines that created through recent innovations in biotechnology. Drugs today are more targeted to tumors, so patients are seeing their lives prolonged with fewer of the side effects that came with traditional cancer drugs.

The hope for the future is even better. More than 400 new cancer drugs are in development. One of the clearest beneficiaries of recent innovations has been the field of breast cancer, where 15-year survival rates for early stage breast cancer patients have gone from one in ten to one in five in just the past decade

With a series of new breast cancer drugs such as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Taxol, the aromatase inhibitors, Genentech’s Herceptin and now Avastin (developed for colon cancer, it was recently shown to almost double the length of time women in late stages of breast cancer survive after chemotherapy), doctors are finally piecing together all of the new drugs they have into cocktails that are saving many more lives.

Some experts now say that recent product launches for colon cancer, including ImClone’s drug Erbitux, a similar drug made by Abgenix, another from Amgen and Genentech’s Avastin, will mean similar gains for that cancer.

The bottom line is clear: There’s still far too much death and suffering from cancer, but investments in research are paying off.

Relaxed regulatory standards at the Food and Drug Administration when it came to drugs that treated unmet medical needs (like advanced cancer) have also contributed to these gains. Lower regulatory hurdles allowed poorly funded biotech firms with good ideas to get new drugs to market sooner and made it easier for doctors to make quick use of the best new medicines.

But now the FDA is raising the bar when it comes to approving new cancer drugs at the very moment when cancer seems more beatable. In recent months, the FDA’s cancer division has issued a number of new policies that, taken together, will make it harder for new cancer drugs to reach patients. As I noted in my recent issue of the Forbes/Gottlieb Biotech Investor, this higher bar is already weighing on the approval of some drugs in development right now.

While more rigid standards might make sense for routine medicines like blood pressure pills and antihistamines, since medical options already exist for these conditions, the same is not true of cancer. Despite recent success, many cancers still have few effective treatments, and even breast cancer and colon cancer, which have benefited from recent innovations, still claim too many victims, especially when these diseases reach advanced stages.

One big change is in the way the FDA evaluates new cancer medicines for what is called “accelerated approval,” where the agency rapidly approves promising drugs for advanced diseases that are poorly treated with existing medicines.

Previously, if no other drugs were approved for a particular kind of cancer, then a new medicine would be considered for this accelerated approval process. Now the FDA will consider all of the off-label medicines that doctors might be experimenting with before it decides if a new cancer drug should be eligible for the rapid approval process. Since information on off-label uses of drugs is usually preliminary and sometimes scant, comparing new drugs to off-label medicines is going to give biotech companies a very hard and hazy hurdle to beat.

The FDA’s cancer division also said it is no longer going to consider drugs for accelerated approval based solely on findings such as a new drug’s ability to shrink cancer tumors or stall their growth.

The FDA’s cancer division is comprised of well-intentioned cancer specialists, many of whom used to practice medicine but have since left patient care behind. Having lost touch with the realities of everyday medical practice over time, it has become too easy for these former physicians to be absorbed by the statistical work of drug review rather than the practical need to get new options to sick patients as soon as possible.

For example, the FDA’s medical reviewers focus only on a new treatment’s effectiveness relative to existing drugs. But they usually ignore the fact that some new treatments have fewer side effects than existing medicines, even though the newer medicine may not be as effective at shrinking tumors. In the real world, the patients I see on hospital rounds make tradeoffs like these every day, opting for slightly less effective medical regimens if they come with fewer side effects.

The FDA’s cancer specialists, in some recent public meetings, have also openly bemoaned what they call a “race to the bottom,” where biotech companies opt for the shortest possible clinical trials in order to get their drugs to market as quickly as possible. The FDA wants cancer companies to spend more time on trials and generate more data about the ultimate effectiveness of their new drugs.

Delaying new treatments for the sake of generating more rigorous and complete medical evidence helps patients–to a point. But in the field of cancer, where practicing oncologists already do a very good job of developing their own medical evidence and prescribe new medicines based on the results of these scientific studies, the FDA’s strict posture is probably overkill.

Delays make drug development more expensive bye closing the market to small biotech firms with good ideas and delaying new drugs from getting to dying patients. The FDA is trying to save patients from the harmful effects of new medicines that have not fully proved their mettle, but in the process, many more patients will die from the extended wait for the good medicines, than from using bad ones.

May, 2005|Archive|

Sated With Snuff, Swedes Take Smoking Ban in Stride

  • 5/29/2005
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Ivar Eckman
  • New York Times

Sweden is a few days from joining the select group of European countries that have banned smoking in restaurants and bars. But unlike Ireland, where the ban upset pub owners, or Italy, where cappuccino drinkers complained about having to smoke outdoors, no one here expects the June 1 event to be met with much protest.

The main reason for this indifference is a four-letter word: snus. A moist, finely minced snuff tobacco inserted under the upper lip, snus is the Swedish alternative to cigarettes.

The substance, which is prohibited in the rest of the European Union (Sweden got an exemption when it joined in 1995), has been used widely here for almost two centuries, and has grown in popularity in recent years. More than a million Swedes use it, and as smoking is banned in eating and drinking establishments, snus (pronounced snoos) is expected to become even more popular.

“Historically, we’ve seen a lot of smokers switching to snus,” said Sven Hindrikes, chief of Swedish Match, which made 95 percent of the almost 200 million cans of snus sold last year. “If you’re not allowed to smoke in restaurants, it will have a positive effect on our sales.”

Swedish Match has been preparing for two years to take advantage of the smoking ban. New custom-made refrigerators and vending machines have been offered to restaurant and bar owners, and a sleek black “snustray” has been designed to replace ashtrays. (Because snus use stimulates saliva production much less than other forms of snuff and chewing tobacco, spittoons are not being introduced.)

Blue Moon Bar, a popular nightclub in central Stockholm, is one of the places where snus is expected to replace cigarettes. A new vending machine selling snus has been put up next to the old cigarette machine, with another soon to follow, and snustrays have begun to appear on top of the bar, the manager, Olle Tejle, said.

Beyond trying to make snus more appealing, Swedish Match is promoting its relative health benefits compared with other tobacco products. “If you ask people who have stopped smoking in Sweden, the biggest group says they have used snus as the main aid in quitting,” Mr. Hindrikes said. This claim appears to be backed by World Health Organization data showing that Sweden has one of the lowest levels of smoking among adults in Europe. The data also show that Swedes – especially men, among whom snus use is particularly widespread – run a comparatively low risk of dying of smoking-related diseases like tracheal, bronchial and lung cancer, though per capita consumption of all forms of tobacco matches that of most of the rest of Europe.

But Swedish health care groups are hardly prepared to embrace snus. “In a sense, all things you compare with smoking unavoidably look quite healthy because it’s such an extremely dangerous habit,” said Margaretha Haglund, who specializes in tobacco policy at the National Institute of Public Health in Stockholm. “Recommending snus to a smoker is a little like telling an alcoholic that it’s O.K. to shift from vodka to wine.”

The health effects of snus are in dispute. No conclusive study has shown that it causes cancer, even if the W.H.O. has found that smokeless tobacco in general causes oral cancer and possibly pancreatic cancer.

Swedish Match maintains that the Swedish snus is less dangerous than other forms of smokeless tobacco, mainly because it contains relatively low levels of carcinogenic “tobacco-specific nitrosamine” substances.

May, 2005|Archive|

Dentists warn smokers of mouth cancer risk

  • 5/29/2005
  • Australia
  • Australian Bbroasting Co. News Online (abc.net.au)

Smokers are being urged to kick the habit or risk developing life-threatening mouth cancers. The Australian Dental Association has issued the warning ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which falls on Tuesday.

The association’s Lena Lejmanoski says in Australia, 46 per cent of oral cancers in men and 36 per cent in women are caused by smoking. She says treatments for the cancers are distressing.

“Radical surgery can be a form of treatment with radiotherapy involved,” she said. “It can be very very disfiguring, giving them a severely compromised quality of life as far as their speech, their chewing and their swallowing.”

Ms Lejmanoski says smokers should get regular dental check-ups and look for early signs of the disease.

“A white patch in the mouth, a lump in the mouth or any lesion in the mouth that doesn’t heal,” she said.

“Early detection is very very important in basically helping to cure, give a potential cure for these cancers.”

May, 2005|Archive|

Study Casts More Doubt on Safety of painkillers – Risk not limited to Cox-2 Drugs

  • 5/29/2005
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Red Nova (www.rednova.com)

Smokers who regularly took certain popular painkillers cut their risk of developing oral cancer but increased their chances of dying from heart-related problems, researcher say. The study raises fresh questions about the long-term use of Advil, Motrin and Aleve.

The findings add to the suspicion that the heart risk extends beyond Cox-2 medications like Bextra, Vioxx and Celebrex to the larger family of pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These include ibuprofen and virtually all other over-thecounter pain pills except Tylenol or other brands of acetaminophen.

Short-term use of NSAIDs — two weeks or less — for headaches or other pain is still considered safe.

However, the study of smokers in Norway is the first evidence to support the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision to warn about long-term use of all of these drugs except aspirin. Results were presented Monday at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Anaheim.

Many doctors have switched patients to over-the-counter NSAIDs since the prescription drugs Vioxx and Bextra were pulled from the market. The doctors believed the over-thecounter drugs to be safer.

Doctors in Norway wanted to see whether NSAIDs could prevent oral cancer because other work suggested they helped ward off other cancers. They found that heart risk was highest among ibuprofen users, who were nearly three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than non-NSAID users.

Aspirin was the only NSAID that did not seem to raise the risk, but the number of aspirin users in the study was small. Risk not limited to Cox-2 drugs A study found that heart risks extend beyond Cox-2 drugs to the larger family known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. The group included ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain relievers.

May, 2005|Archive|