Tuesday, 28 September, 2021
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Confusing science, disparate international responses to e-cigarettes

While America clamps down on vaping, India bans e-cigarettes and Juul vanishes from online Chinese stores, Europehas been more positive about vaping and Britain has embraced it in the fight against cigarette smoking. The...

Prescription drug poses new threat to South African youths

South African learners turn to anti-anxiety medication to manage stress but punishment remains the state’s primary intervention, writes Mark Hunter for the social justice...

The African opioid epidemic you haven’t heard about

Weakly regulated painkillers are causing untold damage in West Africa, but stricter controls could have dire consequences for patients with chronic pain. Laura Salm-Reifferscheidt unpicks an...

‘Profound’ growth in South Africa’s heroin market fuels drug crisis

James Mashakeni, 22, began smoking nyaope, a heroin-based narcotic, after a blowout fight with his dad nine years ago, writes Krista Mahr for the...

Opioid addiction crisis lawsuits target billionaire family and Purdue Pharma

Five states have sued super-rich members of the family that controls Purdue Pharma. Together they are accused of encouraging an opioid addiction epidemic that...

Marijuana’s decriminalisation in America and South Africa – Implications

Every year on 20 April marijuana advocates from Johannesburg to California celebrate cannabis culture, writes The Conversation. The publication ran a serious of articles...

Tough cannabis policies do not deter young people – Study

There is no evidence that tough policies deter young people from using cannabis, writes Mattha Busby for The Guardian. Analysing data about cannabis use...

Smokers misunderstand risks of smokeless tobacco product snus

American smokers mistakenly think that using snus – a moist snuff smokeless tobacco product popular in Scandinavia but newer to the United States – is...

Truth telling about tobacco and nicotine in an e-cigarette era

Debate among public health professionals over approaches to tobacco and nicotine regulation has intensified with the rise of vaping. Researchers at the Pacific Institute for...

How safe are e-cigarettes? The debate continues

A clinical review from the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland recently summarised the latest evidence concerning the use of e-cigarettes, writes Dr Catharine Paddock...

Is marijuana as safe as we think?

Permitting pot is one thing, promoting its use is another, writes Malcolm Gladwell for The New Yorker. Especially since a cloud of mystery surrounds cannabis – including...

What a breakthrough e-cigarette study illustrates about addiction

The first large, systematic study of whether e-cigarettes help people to quit smoking was published on 30 January in the New England Journal of Medicine,...

Constant cravings – Is addiction on the rise?

Addiction was once viewed as an unsavoury fringe disease, tethered to substances with killer withdrawal symptoms, such as alcohol and opium. But now the...

Little international agreement over burning issue of vaping

Despite much debate in the United Kingdom and United States there is little agreement over how safe e-cigarettes are, write University of Edinburgh public health Professor Linda...

Nigeria isn’t doing enough to reduce tobacco use. Here’s why

Tobacco remains the biggest public health threat, killing more than seven million people globally every year. The World Health Organization has recognised progress in Nigeria,...

When common sense and sound judgment go up in smoke

Government’s proposed anti-tobacco bill lacks any scientific assessment as an underlying principle of legislation, argues Tim Cohen, senior editor of Business Day. In a...

Troublesome issues in e-cigarette policy in America

The Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) and e-cigarette policy scene continues to evolve in a direction that will result in substantially more tobacco-related addiction, illness...

Reimagining addiction

Ill-informed opinion, rather than evidence, and an often misguided sense of what is moral shape attitudes to addiction and its treatment. In this fake...

Public Health England: Stopping smoking – What works?

Public Health England recently published Health Matters guidance focusing on the range of smoking quitting routes that are available and the evidence for their...

US FDA warns companies of ‘illegal’ e-cigarettes in crackdown on youth vaping

On 12 October the US Food and Drug Administration said it had sent letters to 21 e-cigarette companies questioning the legality of 41 of...

Workplace and Recovery – How US employers and employees handle addiction

Nearly three-quarters of US employers feel guilty about how they have handled employees’ drug or alcohol addiction-related problems, according to a survey of 737...

Expert opinion divided over health impacts as SA legalises dagga

Following the legalisation of cannabis for personal use in South Africa, the SA Society of Psychiatrists and the SA Medical Association warned of its...

WHO launches new strategy to accelerate global tobacco control

The Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control closed its eighth session – COP8 – on 7 October after adopting...

‘White paper’ call to action on vapour products, harm reduction and taxation

The International Center for Law & Economics in the US has produced a white paper it describes as a call to action for economists and health...

Cigarette market is soaring in Africa – UCT study

Tobacco companies are thriving in Africa due to weak anti-tobacco and tax laws. A study by the University of Cape Town’s Economics of Tobacco Control Project found...

Supporters of South Africa’s Tobacco Bill speak out

Following a cacophony of criticism of South Africa’s Tobacco Bill, supporters the legislation are having their say. An article in Daily Maverick outlines a...

Urgent strategies needed to tackle US opioid crisis – Doctors have a role

There are many ways to tackle America’s growing opioid addiction crisis. In articles in USA Today, a behavioural economist and a chief medical examiner...

Fiery responses to SA’s draconian Tobacco Bill

SA’s Tobacco Bill has met with a barrage of criticism, among other things for proposing jail for smoking in public, outlawing designated smoking areas,...

International experts highlight ‘significant weakness’ in SA Tobacco Bill

In a last-minute submission on the SA Tobacco Bill, international academics argue that the Bill does not sufficiently differentiate between nicotine products of widely...

‘This should change everything’ – A performance standard for cigarettes

Unlike many other consumer products, no safety standards have been set for cigarettes or other tobacco products. Now a performance standard proposal has been...

Advancing tobacco regulation for public health – New FDA initiatives

Over the past year, the US Food and Drug Administration has taken important steps towards achieving its overarching goal – a world where cigarettes...

Negligence killing new-borns; PSC grilled on 'sanitised' report

More than 80,000 newborn babies died within just two years as a result of negligence and the poor quality of healthcare in public hospitals, according the Saving Babies report of the SA Medical Research Council. Meanwhile MPs challenged the Public Service Commission (PSC) on its ’sanitised' findings about the state of public health services, suggesting that patients faced a far bleaker picture than that painted.

Physical activity slashes mortality risk in elderly men

Half an hour of physical activity for six days a week linked to 40% lower risk of death in elderly men and the impact on health is as good as giving up smoking, suggests a large 12-year Norwegian study. Men who regularly engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity during their leisure time lived five years longer, on average, than those classified as sedentary.

Refusals to treat Compensation Fund patients

Doctors and medical practitioners across South Africa are refusing to treat Compensation Fund patients because of its failure to settle claims, research for the Democratic Alliance (DA) has shown. Government hospitals have also turned patients away.

Pricey cancer drugs gets rushed approvals despite poor trials

Highly priced cancer drugs get rushed approvals from benign regulatory authorities, despite poor trial methodology and little effect on the longevity of patients, cautions a British-American study. Unlike most other diseases, cancer instils a special fear and 'is treated as an evil, invincible predator, not just a disease', the authors note. Researchers compared 8942 oncology clinical trials conducted between 2007 and 2010 with trials for other diseases. Trials for cancer drugs were 2.8 times more likely not to be randomised, 2.6 times more likely not to use a comparator (single arm), and 1.8 times more likely not to be blinded.

High-protein risk for weight gain and heart disease

High-protein food diets — such as the Atkins Diet — actually increase the risk of putting on weight and even dying for people at high risk of heart disease, suggest Spanish study of 7,447 people. Although diets high in protein have become increasingly popular, there has been mixed evidence about their efficacy, and fears they could increase the risk of heart disease.

High fibre African diet reduces colon cancer risk

American and African volunteers swopping diets for just two weeks had dramatic effects on risk factors for colon cancer. Western diets, high in protein and fat but low in fibre, are thought to raise colon cancer risk compared with African diets high in fibre and low in fat and protein. The study confirmed that a high fibre diet can substantially reduce risk.

Minister laments lack of interest in prevention campaigns

The South African government's recent introduction of two new childhood vaccines has slashed the number of cases of life-threatening pneumonia and rotavirus, yet these successes have been barely acknowledged, says Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Business Day reports that delivering his budget speech to Parliament, Motsoaledi lamented that public discourse placed too much attention on events in hospitals and clinics. 'Any one negative event that takes place there is almost immediately regarded as the collapse of the health system,' he said.

Right-to-die judgment under siege

[caption id="attachment_4198" align="alignright" width="300"]Stransham-Ford2.jpgRobin Stransham-Ford last week and In better days - Pics courtesy of Netwerk24[/caption]Despite a landmark North Gauteng High Court ruling in favour of a man who wanted his doctors to be granted permission to help him die, the 'right-to-die' remains elusive for South Africans who are terminally ill. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's said giving doctors the right to end a life is 'dangerous' and that the Health Department will now join hands with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to appeal the judgment. The South African Medical Association (Sama) has warned that even if the law were to permit medical practitioners to help patients end their lives, the ethical rules of the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) would not allow this and such a doctor would face disciplinary action. Judge Hans Fabricius suggested Parliament should give ‘serious consideration’ to introducing a draft law legalising euthanasia. This MedicalBrief report contains also access to the full judgment.

Heart stopping news for polygamists

[caption id="attachment_4121" align="alignright" width="300"]ZumaPic courtesy of Timeslive
President Jabob Zuma with four of his wives[/caption]Polygamy increases the risk of heart disease by more than fourfold, reveals Saudi Arabian research. The risk and severity of heart disease increased with the number of wives. Dr Amin Daoulah, a cardiologist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, whose multicentre observational study was presented at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress 2015, said ‘This could be because the need to provide and maintain separate households multiplies the financial burden and emotional expense. Each household must be treated fairly and equally, and it seems likely that the stress of doing that for several spouses and possibly several families of children is considerable.’