|HEALTH & FITNESS|
Tobacco deadly in any form or disguise
Warning over food packaging allergy
Tobacco deadly in any form or disguise
WHILE there is global fall in recent years in the production of both unmanufactured and manufactured tobacco, the Indian share has risen from 9.2 per cent in 1998-99 to10.5 per cent in 2003-04. Similar trends are available for the consumption of unmanufactured tobacco with a rise of Indian share from 6.9 per cent to 7.5 per cent. Since the total cigarette consumption in India has somewhat fallen over the same period, it seems the major increase has occurred due to tobacco consumption in non-cigarette forms such as bidis and the non-smoking like zarda used as chewing products.
Interestingly, tobacco is used in India in a number of forms. Cigarettes, bidis, cigars, pipes, chillum and hookah are the common forms in this region while chhuttas, dhumti and cheroots are popular in other parts of India. The smokeless forms may vary from a paan (betal quid) with tobacco to pan masala, mawa, khaini, mishri, guddaku, gul, bazzar, dantmanjan and many more. But tobacco is an essential constituent in all these products and their effects are qualitatively similar even though there are some quantitative differences.
In the past, most investigators used cigarette smoking as the main subject of their research and reports. This was largely because most of the work had emanated from the West where tobacco was consumed almost exclusively as cigarettes (or cigars). Erroneously, an impression was created that the harm was mostly caused by cigarettes. Over the years, a large body of data has been accumulated on the harm caused by bidis as well as the non-smoking forms to prove that they are as big culprits as the cigarettes. Our own centre in Chandigarh has made significant contribution in this field.
There are tobacco products which are marketed in a disguised manner under newer and fashionable brand labels such as “light”, flavoured”, “safer”, heathier”, “low-tar” and “filtered” forms. Any products which is required to produce the “kick” of tobacco has to contain tobacco with or without other constituents. Even products with smaller quantities of tobacco are not safe since their user is bound to consume a greater number to have the adequate “effects” desired from tobacco.
Why society at large and the medical community in particular are concerned with the increasing use of tobacco is simple and easy to understand. One, it is a major health risk and responsible for a large number of serious and disabling diseases.
Two, it is an important economic burden on the family as well as the health care infrastructure. Three, the health of non-smoking persons is also adversely affected because of passive exposure to smoke from others. It is now proven beyond doubt that the wives and children of smokers are also likely to suffer from several tobacco-related disease without ever smoking themselves.
Although most of the body organs are damaged by tobacco, the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems are more frequently and adversely affected. Consequently, the three major health hazards of all forms of tobacco are the cancers, the airway obstruction and the vascular blocks.
Several types of cancers of the lung, mouth and other parts of the respiratory or digestive tract are directly caused by tobacco use and are not amenable to any curative treatment. Similarly, lung emphysema is a progressive disease leading to respiratory failure in due course of time. Vascular occlusions result in ischaemic damage to the heart, brain and other organs. All these disorders prove to be deadly in the longer run.
The writer is Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh.
Warning over food packaging allergy
CHOCOLATE bar and ice cream wrappers containing latex can trigger potentially fatal allergic reactions in sensitive people but there is no law for it to be listed on labels, experts have warned.
A study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency found that one-third of packaging tested was contaminated with latex, which in some cases transferred to the food.
In one make of chocolate biscuit, the amount was 20 times the minimum necessary to produce a reaction. High levels were also found in an ice cream.
Professor Barry Kay, an allergy expert at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, said: “Latex can give contact hypersensitivity ... and so these individuals should avoid touching contaminated packages. There should be legislation on latex used in food packaging.”
Graham Lowe, an expert adviser to the UK Latex Allergy Support Group said: “For a few people, natural rubber latex is a very potent allergen and for [them] there is no safe level of exposure.”
There is no agreement on a safe level of latex, but some experts say a billionth of a gram is enough to cause a reaction in sensitive people.
Natural latex, derived from rubber trees, is used in meat netting, fruit and vegetable stickers, rubber bands and confectionery wrappers.
Mr Lowe said the transfer of latex proteins to food could account for otherwise inexplicable reactions in some people.
There have been two recent reports of people reacting to latex in chocolate bars, according to Chemistry & Industry magazine. In one case, a woman developed a rash around her mouth.
Proteins in the latex which migrate from the packaging to the food are destroyed by heat. But there is a problem with “cold sealing”, the technique used to wrap products such as chocolate and ice cream.
The Food Standards Agency said it was too early to draw a firm conclusion, but advised people not to alter their eating habits. — The Independent
AN increasing number of people want to completely do away with glasses and contact lens. Let us have a look at the latest refractive procedures which improve both quantity and quality of sight. These procedures are either cornea-based or lens based.
Over the years, laser eye treatment or LASIK has made an enormous difference to people with near-sighted, far-sighted and astigmatic vision problems. A giant leap in laser refractive surgery now aims at improving upon the patient’s vision both quantitatively and qualitatively. An instrument called the aberrometer is used to map the imperfections (aberrations) of the eye. These aberrations are then removed using the laser.
LASIK is a skilled procedure that treats the tissue of the cornea and reshapes it in a manner that reduces myopia (minus power), hyperopia (plus power ) and astigmatism (cylindrical power). In this procedure an instrument known as a microkeratome is first used to make a thin flap of the cornea. The flap, which remains attached on one side is then folded back. Next, the cool laser light from the Excimer laser ablates, i.e it removes the predetermined amount of tissue to reshape the cornea with great accuracy and precision to correct the individuals refractive error. The corneas is made flatter to treat nearsightedness, steeper to treat farsightedness and /or more spherical to treat astigmatism. Finally, after the laser ablation, the cornea flap is laid back in its original position, where it bounds instantly. Due to cornea’s extraordinary natural bonding qualities, no stitches or sutures are required. Even an eye patch is not required.
CUSTOMISED LASIK (zyoptix-100) is a much more advanced and sophisticated from of LASIK. It is a wavefront guided LASIK or customised LASIK. Its highly sophisticated technology allows the surgeon to correct not only glasses numbers but also the aberration in the eye. It thus offers personalised and customised vision solutions for the patients and produces superior vision, even during night. It also can be one in previously lasered eyes and can correct higher refractive errors as compared to LASIK.
EPI-LASIK (Epithelial LASIK) is a refractive surgery procedure very much like LASIK. It is an alternative for patients with thin corneas who would not otherwise be candidates for the conventional LASIK procedure
Intrastromal Corneal Ring Segments (Intacs) are semi-circular pieces of plastic that are implanted within the cornea to treat mild forms of myopia. They also are sometimes used for other conditions affecting the cornea such as keratoconus.
People with particularly high refractive errors are not fit to undergo corneal laser refractive procedures like LASIK or Epi-LASIK . Such people have the option of surgical correction of their refractive error with lens-based procedures.
Phakic Intraocular Lens: Until recently refractive surgery from some people with high degrees of myopia or hyperopia was not an option. The amount of correction needed could not be achieved safely through surgical procedures involving reshaping the cornea. However, cataract surgery patients have been treated successfully with plastic lenses (called intraocular lenses or IOLS ) implanted in the eye for many years. Using a similar approach, a different type of IOL known as phakic IOL is being used to treat patients who do not have cataracts but need correction for refractive errors that exceeds the safe range of excimer laser procedures such as LASIK.
Refractive lens exchange is another good procedure for extreme near-sightedness of far-sightedness people who are not good candidates for laser vision correction. During the procedure the surgeon removes the natural, crystalline lens in the eye and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens.
People undergoing refractive lens exchange need to be aware that they will lose the ability to do close work and will require reading glasses. However, with recent developments in intraocular designs, the lens exchange can be done with accommodative or multifocal lenses, this would provide the range of vision required for spectacle-free vision.
With the advent of these new procedures, much better results are being achieved. Ophthalmologists are now much more aggressive in offering you personalised vision corrective solutions, tailor-maid and suited to your needs but, the deciding factor should be that the surgeon has the entire bouquet of procedures to offer and the ability to mix and match the procedures to suit your specific and unique requirements.
The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Curb obesity in young to prevent diabetes
NEW DELHI: Obesity in the young needs to be tackled head on if diabetes is to be prevented, says Dr Anoop Misra, Director and Head of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.
“Three-fourths of the children who are obese remain obese throughout their lives,” Dr Misra said, adding that eating junk food and leading a sedentary lifestyle were major contributors to the onset of diabetes.
According to Dr Misra, at least, a third of today’s children take junk food more than thrice a week, and diabetes occurs due to the faulty action of insulin (hormone which converts sugar into energy) in the body.
“Ninetyfive per cent of Indians suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which is a lifestyle disease, and nearly 5 per cent suffer from Type 1,” said Dr Misra.
India, he said, is presently seen as the “diabetes capital of the world”. — ANI
Divorce hits women’s hearts harder than men’s
LONDON: Divorce may be painful and can cause heart-ache, but now researchers have discovered that going through a marriage breakdown can literally lead to a broken heart.
They say women who divorce are 60 per cent more likely to develop heart disease in later life than those who remain in a married relationship.
Even those who find new happiness and remarry are still likely to suffer ill health as a consequence of their previous failed partnership, the experts said.
Men, in contrast, appear to be physically unaffected by divorce, with marital loss having a negligible effect on their chances of developing heart problems.
Researchers believe that the emotional stress of a marriage breakdown, coupled with the subsequent social and economic changes, such as moving home and a reduction in income, trigger physical and mental problems in women, reports The Daily Mail. — ANI
Second-hand smoke raises osteoporosis risk in women
LONDON: Here’s another reason why people, especially women, should stay away from second-hand smoke. A new study has found that it triples the risk of pre-menopausal women developing osteoporosis.
The study was a joint collaboration by American researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a team of Chinese researchers who examined 14,000 men and pre-and-post-menopausal women in rural China.
They found that living with one smoker more than doubles the risk of osteoporosis in pre-menopausal non-smoking women when compared to those women who did not live with a smoker.
The researchers found that women who lived with two or more smokers had a threefold greater risk of the condition, and a 2.6 times greater risk for a non-spine fracture compared to non- smokers. — ANI