Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hookahs are trendy, but are they safe?

By Tom Glynn, PhD



Hookah smoking is no safer than cigarette smoking. If you read no further, that is the take-home message for this blog — no matter what you may have heard or read, the scientific evidence is clear that hookah smoking is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.


Countering the widely-held, although mistaken, belief that hookah smoking is safer than cigarette smoking is important, so let’s take a step back and consider what hookah is, learn about its history and current popularity, and then look at the facts about the scientific evidence regarding its effects on health. [more]


An ancient practice


Hookah is a bowl-shaped device with a tubular pipe.  It also may be called waterpipe, shisha or hubble-bubble.  Charcoal-heated air is passed through a tobacco mixture and then through a water-filled chamber and, ultimately, through the pipe for the user to inhale. Though it sounds complicated, a hookah is an ingenious and relatively simple way of delivering tobacco smoke. (see photo, on left)


The practice of hookah smoking goes back nearly 500 years. It most likely began in India after Columbus brought back the first tobacco plants and seeds from the Americas, where tobacco had been in use for centuries.… Continue reading →

What we can learn from the Cancer Prevention Studies

By Alpa Patel, PhD

How often do you see someone battling cancer and wish there was something tangible you could do to make a difference?


During the past 50 years, more than 2 million volunteer participants have joined the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Studies and have been making a difference simply by giving a little time to fill out surveys and share information about their behaviors, lifestyle, family and personal medical history, and other information. In 1959 and 1982, adult men and women voluntarily joined the Cancer Prevention Studies I, and II, respectively. Their simple actions as study participants have helped us understand much of what we know about how cancer develops in the population.


Today, a new generation can do the same, by joining the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), the Society’s newest Cancer Prevention Study. [more]


Teasing out lifestyle risks


So, how can simply providing information about how you live help researchers understand the causes of cancer and how to prevent it?


Studies like CPS-3 enroll large numbers of adults who have never been diagnosed with cancer. These individuals provide information about themselves at the start of the study. Researchers “follow” study participants over time by periodically sending follow-up surveys that ask about changes in lifestyle or behaviors, and about any new health outcomes (like cancer).… Continue reading →

Just say no — to pain drugs?

By Terri Ades, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCN


We remember the phrase from the 1980s. It emerged from a substance abuse prevention program to teach students skills to resist peer pressure and other social influences. When Mrs. Nancy Reagan was visiting an elementary school in California and was asked by a schoolgirl what to do if she was offered drugs, the first lady responded by saying, “Just say no.”  Upon her husband’s election to the presidency, Mrs. Reagan outlined how she wished to help educate the youth, stating that her best role would be to bring awareness about the dangers of drug abuse.

Mrs. Reagan was talking about drug abuse among our youth- she was not talking about the appropriate use of drugs to treat cancer-related pain. Yet patients are hesitant today to take pain-relieving medicines for their pain, and caregivers are reluctant to give them. Many are afraid of addiction. Are their fears related to this campaign from the 1980s? Probably not, but we know it is very difficult to change people’s attitudes about taking pain-relieving medicines once those attitudes are formed. [more]

Is cancer pain a problem?

Yes it is. Pain is reported in about 25% of those newly diagnosed with cancer; in 33% of those undergoing treatment; and more than 75% of those with advanced disease.… Continue reading →