Harm Reduction

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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...

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: Shutterstock

A new paper has found a large disparity between the number of pregnant women who report smoking during pregnancy and tests for nicotine exposure, a further indication of what scholars have long known: that addiction can make people deceive themselves and others about their habits, which can be difficult to beat.

Women who become pregnant often vow to live a healthier lifestyle. While some claims -- such as, it's essential to eliminate all coffee or alcohol -- lacked a real scientific...

FIBeach Fire Island National Seashore

Please give this a shot before you go back to playing Candy Crush. I promise you that it is not the same old useless WebDUMB summer guide: (A) Put on sunscreen to avoid a sunburn; (B) If you are thirsty, drink something; (C) Don't swim laps with a cinder block tied around your neck.

Last week, the ocean temperature on Fire Island (1) finally reached a swimmable temperature. I'm guessing it was nearly 70 degrees. It felt great.

Yet, the week before, if you stuck your toes in, they immediately disconnected from the rest of...

Golfer Rory McIlroy via Shutterstock Golfer Rory McIlroy via Shutterstock

In many ways, the game of golf is based on managing risk. For the world's best golfers and weekend duffers alike, when standing over a shot the player holding the club often must choose between being aggressive and "going for it," or conversely, minimizing risk by "laying up" with an softer-targeted shot to set up a more conservative approach to the hole.

As this relates to Rory McIlroy's decision Wednesday to skip the Olympics in Brazil due to concerns over possibly contracting the Zika virus, that choice...

For parents, it's axiomatic that steering young children into sports is good for their overall health. Naturally, the thinking is that it's beneficial to start getting them moving at a young age, and the exposure will hopefully lead them towards a lifetime of physical activity that will deliver a variety of health benefits. But just like almost everything else, too much of a good thing can also backfire.

Teenage pitcher via Shutterstock Teenage pitcher via Shutterstock

That's a key concept to remember when kids get too involved...

The good news — no, make that the very good news — is that teen cigarette smoking has continued to decrease, according to the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

In 1991, 28 percent of teens reported smoking at least one cigarette in the 30 days before taking the survey, while in 2015 that had dropped to 11 percent, as shown in the graph below.


Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 12.03.15 PM Percent of High School Students Who Ever Tried Cigarette Smoking. 1991-2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveys

Since the majority of adult...

Pictorial warning labels courtesy of JAMA Pictorial warning labels courtesy of JAMA

During my medical training, it seemed like a guarantee that  the patients who were the sickest or fared the worst were smokers. Despite diagnoses of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or limb amputation, these folks continued to smoke.  One would think that inability to breathe or losing a foot would be an "aha moment," but sadly, that's not always the case.

Quitting smoking is not easy and the longer one has been smoking the tougher it becomes to kick the habit.  Smoking is the foremost modifiable...

Naturopathy via Shutterstock Naturopathy via Shutterstock

I had a tough time coming up with a title for what I wished to write.  We, as an organization, stand by debunking junk science and advocating against misinformation and fear mongering.  By upholding these virtues our aim is protecting people from harm and when it comes to naturopathy - harm from non-evidence-based magical science.

It seems to me that while thoroughly critical of the medical profession, many alternative medicine practitioners are very quick at calling themselves...

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A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds that calls to U.S. poison centers about young children swallowing (confounder: also inhaling or touching) e-cigarette liquid climbed from from January 2012 through April 2015.

Calls totaled 4,128 during the study, 14 early on to 223 by the end of the chosen timeframe, which mirrors the increased popularity of the products. Most children were age 2 or younger.

Is that alarming?...