Harm Reduction

Monday was my first day at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). In an effort to be a welcoming colleague, Dr. Josh Bloom, Senior Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, called me on the phone. In doing so, he somehow almost broke his hand on a chair. Identifying with the freakish nature of his injury, and after getting an assurance that he was okay, I couldn’t stop laughing.  

I’ve done it. Seen it. Treated it.

I assume I'm not alone. So I began thinking about rates of unintentional injury and that time I got badly burned on day one of a trip to a Caribbean Island.  What happened? As I attempted to deal with the burn I reached inside my luggage and my hand met with resistance.  So, what did I do?  I kept persevering, pushing it into the bag— all...

 Shutterstock Khloe Kardashian, Credit: Shutterstock

The Kardashian family has made a fortune using its celebrity status to market a number of cosmetic and health products over the years, among other things.

In a post on her website, Khloe Kardashian expresses her love for Vitamin E. And I can respect that. The benefits of the fat soluble antioxidant have been well documented scientifically. However, she managed to step over the boundaries of science to what I can only consider fiction. The TV personality advocates for other uses of Vitamin E - specifically mentioning its benefits in the vaginal...

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Everyone talks about addiction, some people even invoke the term about lots of things that aren't known to be addictive, like using a smartphone or watching television, which muddies the issue for defining actual addicts. Alcohol can be addictive, as are cigarettes and drugs. How is that crossover determined?

A team writing in Health Sociology Review identify five key processes by which the tools used to...

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was recently interviewed by Bret Baier of Fox News about the worrying spread of Zika in Florida. (The video is embedded at the bottom of this post.)

He made an excellent point about public health policy that is very much worth highlighting.

Mr. Baier asked (starting at the 1:59 mark) what Dr. Fauci thought about research in mice that suggested Zika may adversely affect adult brains. He responded:

"I think we should be careful about making the connection between that study in a mouse model and anything that we're seeing with the adults, in which we have thousands and thousands of cases of human adults who are infected with no apparent deleterious...

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Two generations ago, tattoos were relatively scarce, and primarily only among a few types of people, but their presence has increased from 5% in 2003 to 12% in 2016, and half of those with tattoos have more than one, all without really knowing the safety and regulation of the inks used for tattoos and permanent makeup.

In the US, 40% of 16-34-year-olds have at least one tattoo. Though the Navy and Marines have long had tattoos, they recently had to get more lenient about volume, because so many young people had them.

Since they are created by...

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One of the hardest addictions to break is smoking — but it can be done. There is a myriad of aids to help smokers who want to quit, such as nicotine replacement patches and lozenges, e-cigarettes, and snus. A new report from Finland suggests that in addition to these, increasing the distance a smoker has to walk to obtain his or her cigarettes is associated with an increased rate of quitting.

Dr. Anna Pulakka from the  University of Turku, Turku, Finland and colleagues used data from 2 prospective...

The Global Forum in Nicotine was held in June and 44 participating countries sent policy analysts, regulators and public health professionals to discuss smoking cessation and harm reduction.

An obvious topic was the role of e-cigarettes as an effective tool in preventing smoking.

The UK Centre for Substance Use Research interviewed 167 young people aged 16-25 years in the UK who ‘vape’ about their usage, and found that the majority of them regard it as socially very distant from smoking, was much less harmful than smoking, and they believe that e-cigarettes make smoking seem abnormal.

In the UK, Public Health England characterizes vaping as being up to 95% less harmful than smoking, while...

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the #1 cause of death in the United States. This is the result of the overwhelming success of vaccines, sanitation, and various public health campaigns. No longer are Americans dying of diarrhea and diphtheria (the #3 and #10 causes of death in 1900, respectively). Instead, we are largely dying from so-called lifestyle diseases, like CVD.

Still, finding ways to delay the inevitable is in the public interest, not just in terms of improving the quality of life but also lowering the cost of healthcare. With those aims in mind, the CDC examined the association between occupation groups and risk factors for CVD in 21 states for its most recent issue of the Morbidity and Mortality...

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The gradual reduction of smoking – the number one cause of preventable death and illness – is one of the triumphs of public health in the United States. About 16.8 percent of Americans smoke today, compared to 42 percent in the 1960s.

But even as many have given up the habit, smoking has remained a serious problem...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 National Health Interview Survey – the source for national smoking estimates – reveals surprising e-cigarette facts, summarized in the chart below.

The figures demonstrate a 7 percent drop in current vapers from the 8.9 million reported in 2014 (here), due largely to a 29 percent decline in the number of current smokers who vape. In the NHIS survey respondents were current smokers and/or vapers if they used products every day or some days. In both years, 22-23 percent of current smokers vaped every day; the rest reported vaping, on average, about 7.7 days in the past month.

Year to year, the number of former smokers who...