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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Smoking may contribute to pelvic pain in pregnancy

A LOWER risk of pelvic pain could be yet one more reason for women to quit smoking before becoming pregnant, a new study suggests.
Danish researchers found that among 5,000 women interviewed during and soon after pregnancy, those who smoked during pregnancy were 20 per cent more likely to have pregnancy-related pelvic pain than non-smokers.
A similar risk was seen among women who had given up smoking during the first trimester, according to findings published in the obstetrics journal BJOG.
Pelvic pain is believed to be a common problem in pregnancy, with recent studies finding that anywhere from 14 per cent to 33 per cent of women develop it, most often in the second half of pregnancy.The pain can make routine activities, like walking, getting up from a chair or even turning over in bed, difficult.
So it is important to reduce the risk of developing the pain, if possible.The current findings show an association between smoking and pelvic pain, but do not prove cause-and-effect. Still, there are many reasons for women to quit smoking, particularly if they are planning a pregnancy.So a reduction in the risk of pelvic pain can be viewed as a potential added benefit, according to lead researcher Karin Biering, of Herning Regional Hospital in Denmark.
Smoking during pregnancy is linked to increased risks of miscarriage, low birth weight and other pregnancy complications. So the most important reason for women to quit before pregnancy is for the health of their child, Biering told Reuters Health in an email.“The finding of our study just adds another possible consequence of smoking,” she said.The results are based on data from a subgroup of women included in a national study of more than 100,000 pregnancies between 1996 and 2002.
Women in that study were interviewed during pregnancy and six months after giving birth.Biering’s team compared 2,300 women who reported having pelvic pain during or shortly after pregnancy with nearly 2,700 who did not report the problem. Pelvic pain was defined as pain that was at least significant enough to affect a woman’s ability to walk.
Overall, the study found, smokers, including those who quit in early pregnancy, had an elevated risk of pelvic pain, even taking into account a number of other factors, such as age, obesity, the women’s self-rated general health and whether they had a physically strenuous job.It is not clear why smoking might contribute to pelvic pain during pregnancy. In theory, it may be related to reduced blood flow to the pelvic tissue, according to Biering.
Even if smoking is a risk factor for pregnancy-related pelvic pain, being a non-smoker is no guarantee that a woman will not develop the problem. Among women with mild pelvic pain in the current study, 73 per cent were non-smokers; of those with severe pain, pain bad enough to interfere with several daily activities – 69 per cent were non- smokers.Pelvic pain is a “complex” condition, Biering noted, and there are probably numerous factors involved in pregnant women’s risk.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Secondhand smoke linked with illness

-Editor Natural Health

EXPOSURE to secondhand smoke appears to be associated with psychological distress and the risk of future psychiatric hospitalisation among healthy adults, according to a report posted online in the August print issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

The authors in background information stated: "A growing body of literature has demonstrated the harmful physical health effects of secondhand smoke exposure. Given the highly prevalent exposure to secondhand smoke…even a low level of risk may have a major public health impact."

Dr. Mark Hamer of University College London, and colleagues studied 5,560 non-smoking adults (average age 49.8) and 2,595 smokers (average age 44.8) who did not have a history of mental illness and participated in the Scottish Health Survey in 1998 or 2003.

Participants were assessed with a questionnaire about psychological distress, and admissions to psychiatric hospitals were tracked over six years of follow-up. Exposure to secondhand smoke among non-smokers was assessed using saliva levels of cotinine – the main product formed when nicotine is broken down by the body – "a reliable and valid circulating biochemical marker of nicotine exposure," the authors write.

A total of 14.5 per cent of the participants reported psychological distress. Non-smokers with a high exposure to secondhand smoke (cotinine levels between 0.70 and 15 micrograms per litre) had higher odds of psychological distress when compared with those who had no detectable cotinine.Over the six-year follow-up, 41 individuals were newly admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Smokers and non-smokers with high exposure to secondhand smoke were both more likely than non-smokers with low levels of secondhand smoke exposure to be hospitalised for depression, schizophrenia, delirium or other psychiatric conditions.

Animal data have suggested that tobacco may induce a negative mood, and some human studies have also identified a potential association between smoking and depression. "Taken together, therefore, our data are consistent with other emerging evidence to suggest a causal role of nicotine exposure in mental health," the authors write."To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a prospective association between objectively assessed secondhand smoke exposure and mental health in a representative sample of a general population," they conclude.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ERA hails Osun on smoking ban

By Solaade Ayo-Aderele

The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria has commended the Osun State Government for signing the Osun State Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Bill 2009 into law, saying the decision is one of the most far-reaching efforts taken by any state in the federation to safeguard public health.
The bill prohibits smoking in cinemas, theatres or the stadium, medical establish-ments, hotels, offices, schools and public transportation, nursery institutions and lifts.
Another major highlight of the bill is the prohibition of smoking in both private and public vehicles that have non smoking occupants below the age of 18 on board.
In a statement issued in Lagos and made available to our correspondent, ERA/FoEN said that the Osun State Government had demonstrated its responsiveness to the well-being of its people and public health and should be emulated by other states.
“The Nigerian tobacco control community lauds this enviable step by the Osun State Government, as it will go a long way in checkmating the growing number of tobacco-induced deaths that have been on steady increase,” said ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi.
Oluwafemi however noted that, “Paradoxically, while Osun State has taken practical steps in safe-guarding public health, the National Assembly is still foot-dragging on translating the all-encompassing National Tobacco Control Bill into law, even with the overwhelming support that the bill received at the public hearing on July 20-21 last year.”
Reiterating ERA/FoEN’s call for the National Assembly to expedite action on the NTCB, Oluwafemi said “Nigerians are dying by the seconds due to tobacco addiction, while tobacco manufacturers laugh all the way to the bank.
“Every single day that we delay the implementation of strict laws, there will be more deaths, more ill-health and the economy will suffer,” he said.
“The trend globally shows that only far-reaching laws can stop the gale of deaths spurred by tobacco smoke,” he argued.
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco currently kills 5.4 million people worldwide, and if current trend continues, it will kill about eight million by 2015.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Preventing Tobacco Addiction Among Our Women

The recently released statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of an increasing global trend of women and girls who have taken to the deadly habit of tobacco smoking is scary. Of the 5.4 million victims that die every year, 1.5 million are girls and women. In half of the 151 countries recently surveyed, approximately as many girls use tobacco as boys. WHO even claims that Nigeria is not only amongst these countries but now has more female smokers than males. Contestable as this may seem, it is no doubt a warning signal that urgent intervention from all concerned organs of government is necessary.
According to WHO’s Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, the trend in some countries is “extremely worrisome”. She also asserts that that tobacco use “is neither liberating nor glamorous”, contrary to the advert campaign of the marketers. It is probable that this misconception is helping to lure more girls into the widening web of the addictive consumption.
The theme of the 2010 anti-tobacco campaign is focused on ‘tobacco and women’, with an emphasis on marketing to women and the concomitant harmful effects. Similarly, the need for governments to ban the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco is being highlighted, with the aim of eliminating tobacco smoke from all public places. The goal is in tandem with WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
A new strategy being used by manufacturers and marketers is to link smoking with attractiveness, which easily fascinates young girls, ultimately making them helpless victims. Nigeria’s inclusion in countries with worsening tobacco use, it has been revealed, is also traceable to the harmful effects of passive or second-hand smoking. Also, growing social frustration caused by poor governance has led to mass youth unemployment and the erroneous belief that smoking offers some relief, even if temporarily. Up North, seasonal harsh weather sometimes induces more people into smoking. Unfortunately, they end up harming their pulmonary system more than they care to know.
Smoking refers basically to the habit of inhaling smoke from cigarettes. Not a few teenagers imbibe it from their parents, relations and friends, who are smokers. The health consequences are grave, however, for the users as well as those around them. According to the WHO, tobacco smoke contains some 4,000 deadly chemicals, chief of which are vaporized nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar, concentrated at the end of the cigarette stick. The first signs of ill health arising from tobacco use is a slight cough, which graduates to bronchial cough, that later degenerates into lung cough. Research specialists explain that the toxic chemicals settle at the junction of the bronchus and bronchioles, where most cases of lung cancer begin. In addition, the membranes lining the respiratory system become thickened with the irritating chemicals. This causes the removal of the protective cilia which normally absorb dust and pathogenic microbes that could cause life-threatening diseases.
Once the smoke is continually inhaled it contracts the air passage and constricts the voice box or larynx, leading to swollen vocal cords and smokers’ cough. In severe cases, it causes chronic bronchitis and laryngeal cancer. In addition, the presence of the aldehydes in smoke worsens stomach ulcer. Smoke reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, thereby weakening the power of the cells to function optimally. Its deposits narrow the arteries, causing gangrene, leading to amputation for some victims.
Researches since 1939 have indicated the bad effects of smoking in advanced countries. But the WHO says that today over 80 percent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. This reflects the fact that several major cigarette manufacturers have relocated from the advanced economies with their more stringent anti-tobacco laws, and are now consciously exporting death to the developing countries. According to the Programme Manager of Environmental Rights in Nigeria, an affiliate of Friends Of The Earth, Akin Oluwafemi, two persons die each day in Lagos hospitals as a consequence of tobacco–related ailments.
This is a dangerous trend, and we are alarmed, in this connection, that the Senator Olorunimbe Mamora-sponsored Anti-tobacco Bill is suffering from what he terms deliberate moves to scuttle it by some of his colleagues. The fact that the Senate Committee on Health is headed by a female lawmaker, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, and the focus of this year’s anti-tobacco theme is on discouraging women from smoking, should help to speed up the bill’s passage into law.
Expansion in economic production, leading to mass creation of jobs especially for the idle youth, will reduce the helplessness of the government in accepting the short-term economic benefits of tobacco manufacturing in the country. What use is it, in the long run, to offer jobs to some citizens in tobacco factories and farms, and pay taxes into the public coffers, only for the people’s health to be destroyed some years later at a prohibitive cost to public health care and citizens’ purses? The government cannot fold its arms and allow this preventable scourge to ravage the public, already battling with a legion other woes. No effort should be spared in discouraging Nigerian smokers, especially the future mothers of our children, from preventable death.

Tobacco or health? It's decision time!


The Senate's failure to act on the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) immediately after the public hearing of July 2009, has now made the bill a toy in the hand of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Senator Kamarudeen Adedibu representing Oyo South Constituency, no doubt, did a hatchet man's job and got a pat on the back when he said the National Tobacco Control Bill which has passed through its second stage at the Senate is dead. This statement credited to Adedibu in national dailies is a slap on the face of his colleagues. After all, no one can deny the dangerous effects of tobacco use.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco currently kills 5.4 million people globally, and if left unchecked, this number will increase to 8 million - with devastating results for developing countries which will contribute about 70 percent of that figure. In the 20th century, the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people, but the WHO says in this century, it could kill one billion people.
Meanwhile, statistics from Nigeria are staggering. A survey from the 2006 census, for instance, reveals that more than 13 million Nigerians smoke cigarettes, even as another one conducted in 11 Lagos State government-owned hospitals that same year revealed that at least two persons die every day from a tobacco-related disease, while over 9,000 cases of tobacco infections were recorded.
Also, every year, smoking among young people increases by at least 20 percent, a situation which makes Nigeria and indeed Africa the fastest-growing market for tobacco manufacturers The Federal Government, on September 24, 2001, at what it called the first official Investment Summit, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BAT. Under the terms of agreement, the tobacco giant was to invest a whopping $150 million in the country. It was part of government's search for "foreign investors," and BAT pretended to be the saviour of the former President, President Olusegun Obasanjo, after his tireless search for foreign investment. If the Obasanjo regime did it ignorantly, the present administration cannot claim to be ignorant about the fact that tobacco kills.
There are several ways to view the Senate's stalling action on the bill. The tobacco industry has been given time to hook more young Nigerians on smoking, as every lost day sees another replacement smoker recruited - and we may not see the implication of this action until about 20 years' time. That said, delay on the important health bill will create avoidable problems for the future generation.
Indeed, in developed countries, tobacco companies and their owners are being isolated and choked with harsh laws. Now they invade our continent in the name of foreign investment. Already, tobacco use is responsible for one in 10 adult deaths, and by 2030, the figure is expected to be one in six, or 10 million deaths each year - more than any other cause including the projected death tolls from pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and the complications of childbirth for that year combined. If current trends persist, about 500 million people alive today will eventually be killed by tobacco, half of them in productive middle age, losing 20 to 25 years of life.
Tobacco contains nicotine, a substance that is recognised to be addictive by the WHO. Tobacco dependence is listed in the International Classification of Diseases, and fulfills the key criteria for addiction or dependence, including compulsive use. Cigarettes, unlike chewed tobacco, enable nicotine to reach the brain rapidly, within a few seconds of inhaling smoke.
However, the toll of death and disability from smoking in developing countries is yet to be felt. This is because the diseases caused by smoking can take several decades to develop. Even when smoking is very common in a population, the damage to health may not yet be visible. This point can be most clearly demonstrated by trends in lung cancer in the United States.
The Osun State government has signed a state bill to regulate the activities of tobacco companies and tobacco use in the state. While one expects other states to emulate them, the Senate should rise to protect public health by making a demand on its health committee to produce a report on the public hearing for the passage of the bill.
That way, the Senate will etch its name in gold under the leadership Senator David Mark for passing the National tobacco control bill.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tobacco: Deceit, Lies and Apologies

Say no to smoking, women urged

By Adenike Ashogbon

The campaign against tobacco received a boost recently when the Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) organized a symposium to sensitize the public, especially the female folks about tobacco and its many side effects.
Tagged: ‘Gender and Tobacco with an Emphasis on Marketing to Women’, the event was aimed at drawing global attention to the debilitating ailments caused by tobacco in Nigeria and also to call on the National Assembly to fast track the passage of the National Tobacco Control Rights as well as smoke-free laws to protect non-smokers, including women.
Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Programme Manager for ERA/FoEN who spoke on the negative side effects of smoking, urged Nigerians, especially the female folks to say no to any form of deceitful marketing of cigarette as this could pose dire consequences on their physical and mental well-being.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr. (Mrs.) Kemi Odukoya of the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, observed that: "women may find it more difficult to quit smoking than men and they are at higher risk of illness.