What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Even third-hand smoke is risky

A new study has shown that the residue from tobacco smoke that clings to virtually all surfaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished could prove to be a potential health hazard.

The research team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) showed that nicotine in third-hand smoke reacts with the common indoor air pollutant nitrous acid to produce dangerous carcinogens.

“The burning of tobacco releases nicotine in the form of a vapour that adsorbs strongly onto indoor surfaces, such as walls, floors, carpeting, drapes and furniture,” said Hugo Destaillats, a chemist with the Indoor Environment Department of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

Nicotine can persist on those materials for days, weeks and even months.
The study shows that when this residual nicotine reacts with ambient nitrous acid it forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs.

These TSNAs are one of the most broadly acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke.

Herbal medicines can be potentially lethal

Herbal medicines if taken in large quantities, injected, or combined with prescription drugs, can prove potentially lethal, experts have warned.

Roger Byard, University of Adelaide, highlighted the highly toxic nature of many herbal substances that often mistakenly considered safe.

The forensic pathologist said: “There’s a false perception that herbal remedies are safer than manufactured medicines, when in fact many contain potentially lethal concentrations of arsenic, mercury and lead”.

“These substances may cause serious illnesses, exacerbate pre-existing health problems or result in death, particularly if taken in excess or injected rather than ingested.”

The expert also warned against the risks arising from the interaction between herbal medicines and prescription drugs that could lead serious health damage, including liver, renal and cardiac failure, strokes, movement disorders, muscle weakness and seizures.
Byard said: “Herbal medicines are frequently mixed with standard drugs, presumably to make them more effective. This can also have devastating results.”

Mediterranean diet helps keep the mind sharp

Mediterranean diet, which includes a high intake of veggies, whole grains, and fish, a low intake of saturated fat and meat and moderate alcohol use, can help people avoid the small areas of brain damage that can lead to problems with thinking and memory, says a new study.

The research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to 17.

Researchers assessed the diets of 712 people in New York and divided them into three groups based on how closely they were following the Mediterranean diet. Then they conducted MRI brain scans of the people an average of six years later. A total of 238 people had at least one area of brain damage.

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