Monthly Archives: May 2011

Quitting with a Little Help from Your Friends?

By J. Lee Westmaas, PhD

It’s no secret that trying to quit smoking is hard. It can trigger irritability, anxiety, depression, and all sorts of other unpleasant emotions and physical feelings. But quitting is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and for the health of others. 


Sometimes smokers who want to quit are told that they should get their social network –the people around them — to help, maybe by announcing to friends and family that they’re going to quit, and asking for their support. [more]


That support could be emotional — listening to the smoker vent frustrations, providing encouragement, or simply being extra tolerant of crabbiness caused by nicotine withdrawal. It could also be practical, like helping out with tasks when withdrawal symptoms get to be too much, or providing a distraction when a craving hits.


Support Linked to Success


Research shows that people desperately want to help their loved ones quit and often contact telephone hotlines and other cessation resources for information on how to help. The question is, does this support really make a difference? If so, it’s something we should encourage.


To find out, we need to look at the research evidence.… Continue reading →

Another Reason to Have a Second Cup of Coffee?

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

I admit it; I’m a java junkie. I LOVE my morning (and mid-morning) cups of coffee.  So any study that looks at the potential health benefits of coffee gets my adrenaline pumping, whether I’m revved up on caffeine or not.

A study just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looked at whether or not coffee consumption was related to prostate cancer risk. The researchers were particularly interested in whether or not coffee consumption reduced the risk of advanced prostate cancer (by advanced, they mean that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate at the time of diagnosis).  As a matter of fact, this study is the first of its kind looking specifically at the relationship between coffee consumption and advanced prostate cancer.  While prostate cancer is one cancer I don’t need to personally worry about, on behalf of all the men in my life, I took a look. [more]



Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health collected data on about 48,000 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Every 4 years between 1986 and 2008, the men reported how much coffee they drank, and researchers determined the risk for prostate cancer related to the amount of coffee consumed.… Continue reading →

Can my cancer treatment give me another cancer later?

By Elizabeth Ward, PhD

Cancer patients may sometimes worry that treatment for their cancer might lead to another cancer down the road. Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) is of particular concern because radiation is known to cause cancer.

A recent study published in the Lancet Oncology journal found that cancer patients who were treated with radiotherapy were more likely to develop second cancers than patients with similar cancers who didn’t receive radiotherapy.  Experts have known for many years that radiation therapy can increase cancer risk; however, this is the first study to compare the risk of second cancers among radiation-treated patients to a large group of similar patients who did not receive such treatment.  The study estimated that about 8% of second cancers among patients who received radiation were due to the radiation, which translates to five excess cancers per 1,000 treated patients.  This means that for every 1,000 patients who were treated with radiotherapy, 5 of them would have a second cancer caused by that radiation treatment.


Many types of cancer treatment can cause long-term effects, including second cancers.  For example, some chemotherapy drugs increase the risk of developing leukemia, and young women who have high doses of radiation to the chest are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. 

However, when cancer patients receive these treatments, their risk of serious illness and death from the cancer is much greater than the potential long term effects of the treatment.  Declining cancer treatment because of fear of side effects could be very dangerous.… Continue reading →

‘May’ We Talk about Getting Healthier?

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD


I just heard on the radio the other day that spring is more than halfway over. Before we know it, the year will be halfway over – and at that point, I always like to reflect back on the last six months, think about those resolutions I set at the beginning of the year, and see how I’m doing. It’s a time for me to take stock, get real, and get back on track if need be.


At the beginning of the year, I did a little research to see just how popular setting New Year’s resolutions is. According to surveys, about 50% of us will make some kind of resolution. And likely, those resolutions will be related to eating better, being more active, and losing weight.


All lofty goals, of course, but according to those same surveys, only 8% of us will achieve what we actually set out to do.  Forty-five percent of us will have thrown in the towel by the end of January, and most of the rest of us? Well, by Valentines’ Day, love may be in the air, but chance are, those New Years resolutions are getting the boot.  And by the mid-year mark, well…let’s just say, most people are asking, “What resolutions?”


So what’s the deal?… Continue reading →

Electronic Cigarettes – Boon, Bane, Blessing, or Boondoggle?

By Thomas J. Glynn, PhD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it is taking steps to regulate electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as tobacco products, acting under its authorities in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.


That’s got everybody talking about these rather strange devices, which have become increasingly popular over the past few years.


E-cigarettes resemble a standard cigarette but use a battery and an atomizer to heat a solution which, when inhaled, delivers vaporized nicotine to the user. They have been described both as a miracle answer to the devastating effects of cigarette smoking and as a grave danger to public health.


As with so many highly celebrated, or reviled, products, their true nature likely lies somewhere in between. Let’s consider what many are saying about these devices.


Conflicting Viewpoints


Those who favor e-cigarettes list as benefits:


  • Their ability to deliver nicotine to the user without many of the other 7,000+ chemicals in a regular, burned cigarette;


  • Their absence of secondhand cigarette smoke;


  • Their resemblance to regular cigarettes, which provide the tactile and visual sensations – holding them in a certain way, a glowing tip, blowing smoke, etc.
Continue reading →