What's the buzz

Dissolvable tobacco ups mouth disease risk

A new study has suggested that the new genre of ‘dissolvable tobacco’ products — pop-into-the-mouth replacements for cigarettes — has the potential to cause mouth diseases as well as other problems.

John V Goodpaster, Indiana University, and colleagues analysed the complex ingredients in the products and found that it contained mainly nicotine, along with finely-ground tobacco and a variety of flavouring ingredients, sweeteners and binders.

These products are advertised as smoke and spit-free, but nicotine is a toxic substance linked to the development of oral cancers and gum disease, said Goodpaster.

The products, which dissolve inside the mouth near the lips and gums, are in fact a safer alternative to cigarette smoking.

The researchers, however, said there are possibilities that the nicotine in these products may accidentally poison children.

“The packaging and design of the dissolvables may also appeal to children, and some dissolvables, may be mistaken for candy,” said Goodpaster.

Other ingredients in dissolvables have the potential to increase the risk of tooth decay and one, coumarin, has been banned as a flavouring agent in food because of its link to a risk of liver damage.

Gardening increases vegetable consumption

Older adults who participate in gardening may be more likely to eat their veggies, according to a new research from Texas A and M University and Texas State University.
The report presents the results of an online survey of adults aged 50 plus and includes recommendations for promoting gardening ‘intervention’ programmes to older adults.
Studies have shown that poor nutrition is one of several factors responsible for mortality and morbidity in the elderly and is comparable to deaths caused from cigarette smoking. Although older adults tend to report a higher intake of fruit and vegetables than other age groups, over half of the US older population does not meet the recommendation of five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

Several previous research studies confirmed that gardening is one way to increase individuals’ fruit and vegetable intake.

The objectives of the study were to examine and compare fruit and vegetable consumption of gardeners and nongardeners, and to investigate differences in fruit and vegetable consumption of long-term gardeners compared with newer gardeners. To collect the information, an online survey was posted on a website for one month; 261 questionnaires were completed by adults aged 50 years and older.

Now, biosensors to signal when you are sick

Scientists are coming up with biosensors which when implanted in your body could even signals when you’re getting sick — almost like the ‘check engine’ light in a car.

One such medical device that’s heading for clinical trials, perhaps later in 2011 is a robotic arm that moves almost like a natural arm.

It works to a control system that monitors brain activity via a biosensor implanted on the surface of a patient’s brain. That project aims to provide better artificial arms for wounded soldiers.

Scientists and medical device regulators are working together to fast track approval of such ‘biosensors’ and devices.

Biosensors monitor changes in the body, often ‘disease markers’ — proteins, genes and other biochemical substances involved in health and disease. And they raise a red flag when things go awry.

The study has appeared in ‘Chemical & Engineering News’ (C&EN).

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