Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Tobacco Industry Increased Addictive Nicotine in Cigarettes

While public health campaigns to discourage smoking have increased, so has the amount of nicotine in cigarettes -- a sly move by the tobacco industry to keep chronic smokers addicted, and get new smokers hooked. In fact, from 1998 to 2004, the manufacturers increased the amount of nicotine that each average smoker receives by 10 percent.
And a test by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that 166 cigarette brands (out of 179) fell into the state's highest nicotine yield range -- including 59 described as "light" and 14 as "ultra-light." Almost all the brands delivered enough nicotine to cause heavy dependence.
While I still believe that sugar is more dangerous than cigarettes, it is obviously beneficial to not smoke. If you're trying to stop smoking the best route is to go cold turkey and not gradual reduction. Why? Because simply cutting back, even down to as little as one cigarette a day, does virtually nothing to change the risk of cancer.

New York Times August 31, 2006

Older Fathers May be More Likely to Have Autistic Children

Men who wait to have children until they're in their 40s may be more likely to have autistic children than younger men, a study of 130,000 people found. Participants whose fathers were older were almost six times more likely to have autism or related disorders than those who were fathered by men younger than 30, and 1.5 times more likely than children fathered by men aged 30-39.
The study lends some support to the theory that impaired genes may cause or trigger autism, but there are many other correlations to autism as well, including mercury-containing vaccines -- studies have found that children who receive thimerosal-containing vaccinations are 27 times more likely to develop autism than children who do not and -- pasteurized milk.
But, whatever the cause, there are many strategies that typically provide enormous improvement in children with autism, such as adopting not only a gluten- and casein-free diet, but also restricting other grains like rice, corn and potatoes.

Archives of General Psychiatry September 2006;63:1026-1032
USA Today September 4, 2006

Sunscreens Can Generate Harmful Compounds in Your Skin

A new study has found more evidence of what I've been saying for some time: Sunscreens are dangerous and can cause more harm than good. A team of chemists found that three UV filters widely used in sunscreens -- octylmethoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 and octocrylene -- penetrate the skin below the surface of the epidermis. This leaves the skin vulnerable to UV radiation, while allowing the sunscreens themselves to generate harmful compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the skin.
Sunscreens generate ROS when UV filters have penetrated into the skin, and when new sunscreen has not been applied to prevent ultraviolet radiation from reaching these filters. The solution they recommend is to reapply sunscreen often (so UV light cannot reach the sunscreen that's penetrated more deeply into your skin, and produce dangerous compounds), but my advice is to not use sunscreens, unless there is absolutely no alternative (and then choose a natural version).
Sensible sunlight exposure is beneficial, and necessary, for you, and you can avoid the sun's potentially negative effects by not getting burned. This means, go out in the sun gradually until you're able to stay out longer without getting burned, and when you want to cover up, grab a wide-brimmed hat or a light jacket to cover your skin.

Science Blog August 29, 2006

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