A Houston boy who went swimming at Texas City Dike over Memorial Day Weekend died days later from reportedly “dry drowning,” or possible “secondary drowning.”

 

“Dry Drowning” sometimes gets confused with secondary drowning. The latter occurs when fluid gets into the lungs when one swims and hours, or days later (out of the water), causes respiratory failure.  As will be discussed below, dry drowning causes a spasm of the vocal cords which inhibits breathing.

 

Frankie, 4 years old, appeared fine until a few days later, his father, Francisco Delgado, Jr., said he appeared to be suffering from a minor, stomach ailment. Then one morning the boy woke up with shoulder pain, and “Out of nowhere, he just woke up. He said ahhh.”  His father told KTRK, “He took his last breath and I didn’t know what to do no more.”

 

Despite efforts by paramedics and the parents, Frankie passed. A GoFundMePage has been created for the family to help with funeral expenses.

What is “Dry Drowning” and “Secondary Drowning”?

Dry Drowning occurs when water touches the first pass of the respiratory tree, one’s vocal cords, larynx.  When water touches this area a reflex is triggered, causing a spasm (laryngospasm) such that the vocal cords constrict and close up the airway. It's a defense mechanism designed to prevent water from falling into the lungs. However, laryngospasm causes immediate hypoxia, lack of oxygen, and if not reversed, the victim will die.  In dry drowning, water never officially reaches the lungs.

 

bronchi_lungs.jpg

 

In Secondary Drowning, water gets inhaled and sits in the respiratory tree and if uncleared through coughing, will sit and prevent proper oxygenation. Moreover the water will irritate the lung linings causing more fluid and inflammation, resulting in pulmonary edema. This could occur hours to days after the water activity.

 

According to Florida Hospital Tampa pediatrician, Dr. James Orlowski, these events are very rare, comprising only 1-2% of drowning incidents.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms for both “Dry” and “Secondary Drowning” are similar in which the victim could have any of the following:

 

  • Cough

  • Chest Pain

  • Difficulty Breathing

  • Shoulder Pain

  • Neck Pain

  • Confusion

  • Irritability

  • Behavior Changes

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty speaking

 

to name a few…

Prevention

Horse play in water should be avoided. This includes bathtubs, plastic pools, hot tubs, pools, lakes, ocean, etc.

 

Never swim alone.

 

Swim in areas staffed with lifeguards and/or appropriate supervision. If water does get inhaled watch the child or adult to look for any of the above symptoms. If concerned seek medical help immediately.

 

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

For centuries, multiple civilizations have used cannabis to treat various medical conditions, including seizures. This week researchers from NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center found a chemical in marijuana to do just that.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a liquid medication containing cannabidiol, one of the many chemicals in marijuana, reduced convulsive seizures in children by half.

Created by GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex, brand name, was the drug used in this study and has not yet received FDA approval.

As opposed to THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, cannabidiol does not cause euphoria and has been the subject of many studies for its medicinal applications.

In this study, researchers tested 120 children with Dravet’s syndrome and found those given Epidiolex not only suffered less seizures, but 5% of the children were seizure-free during the 14 week trial.

Side effects, however, were reported such as fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia (loss of appetite).

What is a seizure?

 

A seizure occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  If the electricity doesn’t conduct properly, brain function gets disrupted. This could lead to convulsions  (involuntary jerking movements), loss of muscle tone, changes in senses such as vision, hearing and smell, loss of bladder control, loss of consciousness and sometimes stroke, brain damage and death.

What is Epilepsy?

 

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which a person has recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

What is Dravet Syndrome?

 

Dravet Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that starts in infancy.  Children can suffer a variety of seizures and may eventually suffer from developmental delay and learning disorders.  What makes Dravet Syndrome so severe is the fact that the seizures are refractory to many anti-seizure medications.

 

 

More research needs to be done in this area, but these preliminary findings give parents and the medical community hope that a pharmaceutical option could exist in the near future for these devastating and potentially fatal seizures.

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

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Estrogen can be dangerous stuff. Sure, it’s an important hormone responsible for the development of the fetus in the womb, the growth of connective tissue and the development of female sexual characteristics, and it’s the most ancient of all of our hormones (it’s been around for 450 million years). But it’s also associated with a wide range of health problems including fibroids, weight gain and cancers. It is pro-inflammatory, it initiates the production of stress chemicals, and it’s linked to various cancers, including breast, uterine, colon and prostate.

Even worse, there are certain chemicals, natural and synthetic that, while not exactly estrogen, can act like it, throwing off the delicate balance of the body’s endogenous hormones. These so called ‘estrogen mimics’ or non-biological estrogen-like substances called xeno-estrogens (xeno meaning “foreign”)  include birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and fertilizers and pesticides, all of which have estrogen or estrogen-like activity and whose levels have increased dramatically in our environment over the last 60 or 70 years.

One of the most significant causes of xeno-estrogen exposure occurs through foods. Over the past 60 or so years the FDA has approved xeno-estrogenic substances for use in livestock. That’s because estrogen is a growth substance and is used to fatten farm animals. It increases the animals’ growth rate and the efficiency by which they convert the feed they eat into muscle. 

Traditionally this has typically been a problem associated with livestock such as cattle and poultry. Recently, however, a new source of xeno-estrogens in food has entered the marketplace: farmed fish. These fish are not only exposed to the hormone via toxic water, which has been saturated with the potent biochemical from agricultural runoff, but they have also been intentionally dosed with the hormone. For years, this chemical manipulation was restricted to countries in Asia know for their lax regulations. However, in the past few years even European and Scandinavian countries have become participants in the chemical control of aquaculture.

One of the main reasons for this hormonal manipulation is deliberate gender reversal; scientists are intentionally turning male fish into females by dosing them with estrogen. This practice, which scientists call “Controlled Reproductive Biotechnology,” is a common practice because in certain species, one gender or another tends to be larger. According to foodforbreastcancer.comtilapia and halibut are especially subjected to this kind of hormonal treatment.

Animal waste is also a significant source of xeno-estrogen. Animal waste may contribute an estimated 90 percent of total estrogen in the environment. Five gallons of runoff water contaminated with chicken manure may contain a birth control pill’s worth of estrogen.

Estrogen levels in poultry litter are so high that when farmers feed chicken manure to their animals to save on feed costs, it may trigger premature development. Poultry manure is among the highest hormone content, quadruple the total estrogen, and nine times more 17-beta estradiol, the most potent estrogen and a “complete” carcinogen, as it exerts both tumor initiating and tumor promoting effects.

If you’re concerned about exposure to xeno-estrogens here are five ways to reduce toxicity:

5 Ways to Prevent Xeno-estrogen Toxicity

  1. Use bentonite clay – 1 or 2 teaspoons in water. Bentonite clay has a large surface area for mopping up xeno-estrogens and lots of others toxins as well.
  2. Probiotics can help. Estrogen is metabolized, broken down and eliminated through the bowels. Probiotics and good bacteria are critical for facilitating this detoxification process.
  3. Use Vitamins A and E. Both nutrients may have estrogen balancing effects.
  4. Don’t forget selenium – the most important estrogen balancing mineral.
  5. Progesterone and Pregnenolone are the quintessential estrogen balancing hormones. Progesterone is best used in a cream. Pregnenolone is readily available in health food stores or on the internet.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

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%PM, %02 %703 %2017 %15:%Jun

The many uses of activated charcoal

So what exactly is activated charcoal, the ancient healing substance that has become all the rage in the beauty and skin care business? Simply put, it’s burnt wood that has been magically transformed into a powerful, poison filter that can reduce the absorption of drugs, chemicals and other toxins by up to 60 percent.

To make activated charcoal, wood is burned in the absence of oxygen at extremely high temperatures ­– up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit – to create a black substance called char. The net result is a type of material sometimes referred to as vegetable carbon, which is tremendously porous, with a remarkable surface area. Two teaspoons of activated charcoal has the surface area of an entire football field.

This amplification of porosity and surface area gives activated charcoal its amazing ability to ‘adsorb’ toxins. Adsorption is a phenomenon whereby chemicals stick to a surface via chemical attraction. This distinguishes it from absorption, which can be defined as the complete assimilation of one material into another, as water is into a sponge.  Because of the tremendous increase in surface area created by the activation process, activated charcoal can adsorb many times its weight in toxins. This makes the fine, black powder incredibly valuable as an antidote for poisons, which readily adhere to the large surface area of the pores like paper clips to a magnet. 

That’s why activated charcoal is considered a must have in pharmacies, first aid kits and medicine cabinets around the world. And, it’s considered first line treatment for accidental poisoning in most emergency rooms. Perhaps the most famous example of activated charcoal’s astounding anti-poison properties was the case of Professor Touery, who in 1831 drank 15 grams of strychnine (that is 10 times the lethal dose) in front of his medical associates without issue simply because he mixed the deadly substance with activated charcoal. 

According to a 2001 study published in the journal Pediatrics, activated charcoal can be an effective home treatment for accidental poisonings. In the study, researchers from the Kentucky Regional Poison Center found that poisoned patients who used activated charcoal at home before they got to an emergency room had significantly improved outcomes. The researchers concluded that intestinal detoxification “…at home using activated charcoal, in appropriate circumstances, may reduce the number of cases that require treatment in a health care facility.”

Personally, I keep a bottle of activated charcoal capsules in my medicine cabinet at home, and for years I had a 10-pound jar of it at my pharmacy. I’ve used it for food poisoning, to reduce unpleasant digestive symptoms like gas and bloating and for dealing with the stomach flu. It has also been recommended for accelerating recovery from a hangover after a night of too much celebration, although recent literature suggests it may not be effective. Externally, you can make a paste with it – blend it with olive oil and perhaps a bit of bentonite and apply it to the affected area – and it can draw out infection or even spider venom. 

Activated charcoal, as many cosmetic companies are discovering, can also be used cosmetically to great effect. A quick Google search for “activated charcoal in beauty products” reveals at least 26 different topicals that feature the fine, black powder. It’s also found in shampoos, bath salts, deodorant and anti-fungal creams for athlete’s foot.

You can buy activated charcoal in most drug stores or online. It comes in capsule and tablet forms. You can also buy the straight powder, which is much more cost effective, at around 20 to 25 dollars per pound (100 capsules = around a quarter pound), although a little less convenient to use. A typical anti-poison dose is around 12 tablespoons of the power (15-30 capsules) dissolved into or taken with three or four glasses of water.

Did you know?

  • Activated charcoal also makes a great tooth whitener. Simply sprinkle some on a wet toothbrush and scrub teeth for two to three minutes. Make sure you rinse well, otherwise your tooth whitener will leave your teeth pretty black!
  • You can add a teaspoonful of activated charcoal to some bentonite clay, mix in a cup or so of apple cider vinegar or aloe vera gel and water to make a paste and apply to blemishes as a spot treatment or to the entire face as an anti-acne mask.
  • You can make a great detox cleanser by melting some coconut oil and adding in some activated charcoal and baking powder. Stir powders in gently as the coconut oil cools and use as a skin softener and purifier. Use a drop or two of lavender or tea tree oil to boost the anti-bacterial properties and add some aromatherapy benefits to your homemade coconut charcoal scrub.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

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Multiple states in the US currently allow recreational marijuana or medicinal use of cannabis and multiple more states may be following suit in upcoming elections.

Even those who support the legalization have concerns over driver safety and how to determine if one is impaired.

Breathalyzers are currently being developed and tested but are not ready for roadway spot checks.  Moreover, breathalyzers may have difficulty accurately detecting both inhaled and ingested marijuana.

California law enforcement officers are piloting road-side saliva tests but objective data is still lacking regarding the accuracy of oral fluid tests.

Currently when law enforcement tests an impaired driver for marijuana use, a urine test can be performed which only looks for a metabolite called THC-COOH.    Despite its abbreviation it is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, as opposed to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), which does cause euphoria.  Hence the shortcoming to this testing method are twofold, as the non active THC-COOH isn’t even the correct metabolite to measure intoxication and it can linger in the body for weeks, hence not allowing an adequate quantitative measure to determining one’s impairment.

Two medical students, however, figured out what needs to be tested and how.  Graham Lambert and Charles Cullison, both entering their third year at Touro University Nevada, performed research for an American College of Legal Medicine (ACLM) poster contest.

One of the lead researchers and osteopathic medical student Graham Lambert said, “This is an issue because it’s non-psychoactive. It stays in the body for long periods of time, long after any psychoactive effects.” Their research lead them to conclude that testing should instead look for an alternate THC metabolite, 11-OH-THC.

Why?  Let’s break this down.  Now both delta-9-THC and 11-OH-THC are psychoactive compounds that can be tested in the blood.  However law enforcement has to determine whether euphoria was present and a factor in one’s unlawful driving.  Both delta-9-THC and 11-OH-THC crosses the blood brain barrier, a semi-permeable endothelial cell barrier that helps decide what substances can enter and leave the brain.  But 11-OH-THC’s is more readily active and can bind to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors tighter, lasting longer and causing more of a psychoactive effect.

Additionally, 11-OH-THC is a metabolite also seen in high quantities after ingesting marijuana edibles.

 

 

IMAGE FROM SAPAINSOUP.COM

 

In 2012, Sharma et al found the 11-OH-THC to last twice as long in the blood than delta-9-THC, which would make sense due its strong binding properties.  Yet the psychoactive 11-OH-THC will rapidly be metabolized to an inactive form hence its presence on a test will signify activity rather than just “hanging around”.

Once Lambert and Cullison determined this, they went to Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, who is Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  Yeager helped sponsor a bill, AB135 that would convert marijuana testing for drivers from the inaccurate urine test to a blood test that would look for specifically 11-OH-THC.

Also lead researcher and osteopathic medical student, Charles Cullison said, “Blood alone accurately shows the levels of hydroxy (11-OH-THC) and marijuana.”

In regards to getting the bipartisan law passed through the State Senate with a “Veto-less” majority,  Cullison stated, “We couldn’t have done this without the help of many people.”

After Nevada lawmakers passed AB 135, Governor Brian Sandoval signed it into law. The antiquated urine testing will not be used to test drivers pulled over for possible DUI but a blood test instead.

 

The legal limit of marijuana that is measured in nanograms per milliliter ng/ml would be 2 ng/ml for delta-9-THC and 5 ng/ml for 11 Hydroxy-THC.  This does not change with passage of AB135, nor do the circumstances surrounding when to test, as current protocols are in place once a person fails his sobriety test.

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in News & Information

The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the GCN Live newsroom. A guest editorial follows.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to check for thyroid health is the ‘Basal Thermometer Test’ developed by Dr. Broda Barnes, one of the first physicians to recognize the importance of thyroid health when it comes to overall wellness.  He wrote the classic book on hypothyroidism called “Hypothyroidism, The Unsuspected Illness” in the 1970’s and he was of the opinion that numerous health issues including heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, diabetes, frequent colds or infections, tonsillitis, ear infections, PMS and other female health issues as well as skin disorders, were all caused by a poorly functioning thyroid. Barnes thought that hypothyroidism affected more than 40% of the American population, which is much higher than most doctors at the time.  However, that is changing as hypothyroidism is becoming more and more recognized as a health problem.

The test, which is sometimes called the ‘Barnes Basal Thermometer Test’ is done by placing a thermometer in the armpit for 10 minutes, first thing in the morning.  This is important.  If you move around and start your day before testing your results won’t be accurate, so you want to do the test as soon as you wake up, while you’re still in bed.  Because temperature for women is a bit lower on the first day of menstruation, Barnes advised women on their periods to avoid testing themselves until their second or third day. 

Personally, I would suggest women wait until they’re done with their periods entirely just to be sure.  You want to test your armpit temperature for three consecutive days and then determine the average.   According to Barnes, if you’re below normal body temperature which is 97.8 degrees, this can be indicative of hypothyroidism, especially if you have other symptoms.  On the other hand, a reading over 97.8 degrees, according to Barnes, could indicate hyperthyroidism, again especially if there are other symptoms present.

If it turns out you’re suffering from hypothyroidism, and nearly 10 percent of Americans are, it’s unlikely that using iodine supplements will make much of a difference.  I’m not saying that iodine is not an important mineral; it is, particularly for glandular health and for the production of thyroid hormone.  If you are blatantly deficient you may notice some benefits, but most hypothyroid patients are not suffering from a lack of iodine.  The same goes for thyroid hormone drugs (levothyroxine) which may or may not provide the hypothyroid body with a little hormone activity but will not do anything to correct the condition.

Hypothyroidism is typically the result of digestive health issues, blood sugar problems and chronic stress (adrenal) gland activity.  That means the best strategy for dealing with hypothyroidism is the same strategy used when dealing with any other health challenge:

  1. Work on digestive health (using digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar with meals, eating fermented foods, using probiotics and eliminating problem foods).
  2. Stabilize blood sugar by eating less starchy and processed carbs (cereal, as well as sweets and desserts), using supplements like selenium and sulfur chromium, vanadium and the B-vitamins (among many others) and enjoying fiber-rich veggies with all meals.
  3. Focus on adrenal health with relaxation strategies, reducing sugar intake, deep breathing and nutritional supplementation including zinc, Vitamin C, the B-complex and magnesium.  Progesterone cream may help, likewise pregnenolone and DHEA.
Published in News & Information
%PM, %24 %873 %2017 %19:%May

Allergies to Marijuana on the Rise

In 2015 Dr. Thad Ocampo and Dr. Tonya Rans published a paper looking at cannabis allergies that ranged from eczema to asthma to anaphylaxis.

 

Daily Mail now reports 36 million Americans could be allergic to marijuana, stating 73 percent of the 50 million people who react to pollen also have issues with cannabis – and the figure is rising. This comes as no surprise as marijuana is a plant that carries pollen. Those exposed to second hand cannabis may be at risk as well. In 1971, a 29 year old woman claimed to have smoked marijuana for the first time when she went into a full anaphylactic reaction, being unable to breath.

 

Cannabis sativa is one of the more common strains of cannabis used and its hypersensitivity could cause one to have any of  the following:

 

Cough

 

Sneezing

 

Wheezing

 

Rash

 

Itch

 

Hives

 

Runny eyes, conjunctivitis

 

Difficulty breathing

 

 

indica-vs-sativa-06-191-720x340.jpg

 

Image from Positive Vibrations

 

Cannabis indicia is the other more common strain, whose leaves are wider and may pose allergic risks as well. Dr. Ocampo and Rans also discusses cannabis seed encrusted seafood which caused an anaphylactic reaction in a patient who was not allergic to seafood.

 

EpiPens could provide support for those suffering reactions and may need to be on hand for those who smoke or are exposed to marijuana smoke.

 

Allergic reactions occur when an allergen enters the body and the immune system tries to reject it. This defense mechanism, however, could cause many symptoms, including bronchoconstriction, preventing one from being able to breathe.  EpiPens provide epinephrine opening up the bronchioles and therefore allowing air exchange.

 

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

 

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%PM, %22 %760 %2017 %17:%May

Caffeine Can be a Killer

In April, a South Carolina high school student collapsed in class and later died.  The coroner’s report, revealed this week, cited caffeine as the cause.  The caffeine induced a cardiac arrhythmia, abnormal heart rhythm,  and 16-year old Davis Allen Cripe tragically died within an hour.

What’s shocking is the amount of caffeine he ingested was not very high.  According to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, Cripe drank, within a two hour period, a large Mountain Dew, an energy drink, and a cafe latte from McDonald's. The teen had no medical problems or family history of heart issues.

A large Mountain Dew contains 54 mg per 12 fluid oz.  So a 20 oz drink would be close to 100 mg caffeine.

Energy drinks, depending on the brand, contain approximately 80 mg of caffeine per can.

A cafe latte from McDonald's, medium size, contains 142 mg of caffeine.

This in total would equal approximately 320 mg of caffeine ingested within a two hour period.

The lethal dose of caffeine in adults range from 150-200 mg/ kg body weight.  So a 70 kg adult could consume a toxic level of caffeine at 10 grams (10,000 mg).

So 320 mg of caffeine is well below the toxic level.  But what caffeine could do could be the more dangerous part.

Caffeine has been known to induce arrhythmias.  It’s a stimulant, hence it can affect the heart’s electrical conductivity that manages the organ’s pumping  action.  Once the electricity is disrupted, the heart muscle fails to have a predictable, rhythmic stimulation, hence cannot pump effectively.

Caffeine also causes vasoconstriction, so blood flow to the heart could be compromised, potentially inducing a heart attack.

In 2014, researchers from Barcelona found energy drinks to be linked to rare cases of heart attack and arrhythmia.

A cup of coffee averages 95mg of caffeine whereas an energy drink contains 80mg.  But the latter is consumed much quicker than a hot cup of Joe that needs to be sipped, hence the consumer takes in a larger load of caffeine in a shorter amount of time.  This could be too much too fast for the heart.

The following is a chart of average caffeine content in common drinks:

 

 

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00am-2:00pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00pm (all Central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

During my commute home, listening to 105 The Vibe as I always do, I learned that more than 40 percent of all litter and 28 to 33 percent of all litter in America is cigarette butts. That’s 1.69 billion pounds of non-biodegradable, toxic trash, and over 65 percent of cigarette butts end up littered. I was immediately disgusted because while I now know cigarette butts account for more than 40 percent of all litter, there’s still a couple billion pounds of litter on top of those cigarette butts.

Thankfully, tax increases have been effective in decreasing the number of smokers in America, from roughly 21 percent of the adult population in 2005 to 15 percent in 2015. The same approach should be taken with litterers.

Littering is bad for everyone. No one wants to live in a dump, so why do people leave garbage on the streets and sidewalks? Well, because no one likes to carry trash with them. I have a solution, though, that would end America’s litter problem once and for all. Littering should be added to the list of federal misdemeanors, and litterers should be fined an exorbitant amount or forced to do an unreasonable amount of community service picking up litter.

Think about it. Littering literally affects everyone in the nation and world. We all breathe the same air and share the same water, so making littering a federal offense makes sense, especially if 81 percent of all littering is done with intent. If tampering with mail is a federal offense, littering can be a federal offense, too. Littering would also be more likely to be enforced if it was a federal offense rather than a municipal ordinance or state statute.

Cities and states don’t issue enough littering citations and don’t collect nearly enough in fines for littering. While Maryland has a maximum fine of $30,000 for littering, that’s for over 500 pounds of litter. I guess that would apply if you left a broken-down car on the side of the road. Very few states have minimum fines in place. In Colorado the minimum fine is just $20. In Delaware it’s $50. In North Dakota and Utah it’s $100. In Alabama the minimum fine is $150.

State and municipal littering laws are all well and good if enforced, which they’re not. The one time I’ve seen them enforced was on the night of my friend’s 21st birthday. With his sober girlfriend driving, he saw a cop car drive by and screamed the lyrics to a popular N.W.A. song out the window, and followed that up by throwing a gallon of water out the window. Well, the very next car (and the one after that as a matter of fact) was a cop car. We got pulled over, and my friend did his best not to puke on the hood of the cop car. He was issued citations for littering and...littering and….invalid registration. I think he said the littering ticket was $20, and he got out of the registration ticket because he renewed it immediately.

But how many people would litter if they were required to pay a $500 fine to the federal government on top of the state’s fine or do an equivalent amount of community service cleaning up litter along interstate highways? I’d venture to guess you’d rarely see someone flick a cigarette out of a moving car or throw a fast food wrapper on the ground. Even though cops can’t be everywhere at once, just the idea of paying for a DUI keeps people from driving drunk. Why would littering be any different?

You might be thinking the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Well, there are a lot of punishments that don’t fit the crime in this country. In Minnesota, a seatbelt violation can cost you over $100, and that’s a law enforced to protect you. Why should a law enforced to protect your health be any different? Both laws are technically improving the safety of all Americans.

If you’re a smoker littering is probably a part of your DNA at this point. You don’t put your cigarette butts back in the pack to throw away later, which is exactly what you should do if you’re not near a trash can or ash tray. You should treat every street in every part of the world like a trail in a national or state park. If you don't litter in a national or state park, why should any other place be any different? Just because a national or state park has natural beauty that hasn’t been destroyed doesn’t mean you should destroy the places lacking natural beauty. One way to get around this is to start rolling your own cigarettes. Unlike pre-rolled cigarettes, roll-your-owns are biodegradable and filter-less. Cigarette filters pose the biggest risk to our environment. If you’re worried about tar and need a filtered cigarette, just get a few reusable filters. TarGard makes good products. I’ve tried them, and they work. They also make the cigarette filter made famous by Hunter S. Thompson.

Most smokers have a specific brand, though, and getting them to change is like asking them to stop smoking. I have a friend who has been smoking Camel filters for over a dozen years, and he couldn’t tell you why. It was just the first cigarette he tried.

There are items that can keep you from covering your community in litter, though. The Bell automotive “Butt Bucket” is a cigarette butt receptacle that looks a little too much like a coffee cup, but it keeps butts off the streets. My friend has one of them in his truck, and the smell is surprisingly subtle.

So if you’re going to smoke, please make sure your butts end up in the trash. Gutter butts collect in storm drains and then into waterways, and can clog storm drains and sanitary sewer systems, leaving the streets covered in toxic, cigarette-smelling water. Worse yet, that toxic water kills the transparent crustacean Daphnia, a planktonic animal that occupies a key position in aquatic ecosystems.

Basically, until everyone stops smoking, we have to stop littering cigarette butts, because it’s the easiest way to nearly cut the litter in half.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information
%PM, %17 %860 %2017 %19:%May

Vaping Linked to Bladder Cancer

Dr. Sam Chang of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, reported in an American Urological News release, “We’ve known traditional smoking raises bladder cancer risk, and given the surge in popularity of e-cigarettes, it’s imperative we uncover any potential links.”

Chemicals in cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, such as nicotine, are excreted through the urine. Researchers examined the urine of e-cig users vs. those of non-smokers and found 92% of those who vaped had at least two of the five chemicals tested.

The University of Minnesota in 2015 identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:

Formaldehyde (human carcinogen)

Acetaldehyde (carcinogen related to alcohol drinking)

Acrolein (highly irritating and toxic)

Toluene (toxic) NNN, NNK (tobacco carcinogens related to nicotine)

Metals (possible carcinogens and toxicants)

In a second study, researchers looked at bladder tissue to see what nicotine and some of the chemicals in vapor could do. They found nicotine, nitrosamines and formaldehyde not only damaged lining but blocked the DNA repair, hence increasing risk of bladder cancer.

Although exact causes of bladder cancer are unknown, tobacco smoke has been the single greatest risk factor.  Other risk factors for bladder cancer include diets rich in fried foods, arsenic, radon, occupational exposure to aromatic amines in textile, rubber and paint plants, and some medications such as pioglitazone used in diabetes. Being exposed to a worm causing schistosomiasis can also put one at risk for bladder cancer.

Symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine (hematuria), difficulty urinating due to obstruction, pain/burning with urination (dysuria), and sometimes no symptoms at all.

Bladder cancer is treated by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.  The earlier it's diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

According to the American Cancer Society they project for 2017:

  • About 79,030 new cases of bladder cancer (about 60,490 in men and 18,540 in women)

  • About 16,870 deaths from bladder cancer (about 12,240 in men and 4,630 in women)

How many of these being related to electronic cigarettes is unknown.

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00am-2:00pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00pm (Central) at GCN.

Published in News & Information
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