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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How Safe are E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are a fairly new phenomenon born from research into new ways to cut down on the population’s cigarette use. There are 500 brands of e-cigarettes on the worldwide market and their popularity is growing. With approximately 2.8 million e-cigarette smokers in Great Britain alone (47% being ex-smokers), the rise of e-cigarette use continues to grow. But are they safe?

Table (click to enlarge): ash.org.uk

What Is an E-cigarette?

An e-cigarette, also known as an e-cig, is an electronic means of inhaling nicotine.

They are formed as cigarettes so users can hold and inhale the ‘smoke’ as if they were smoking a traditional cigarette. A rechargeable heating battery warms a cartridge of chemicals and nicotine transforming it into breathable aerosol. The act of breathing in the aerosol is often called ‘vaping’. Nicotine or ‘e-liquid’ cartridges are sold in pharmacies and supermarkets.

What’s in them and how are they different?

E-cigarettes fundamentally differ from traditional tobacco cigarettes because they contain no tar or ‘smoke’ substances. Because tar and the chemicals associated with it are the main cause of lung cancer, e-cigarettes are viewed as healthier alternative.

There are no governing bodies for standards in the e-cigarette market and brands contain different ingredients that are not monitored by health agencies.

Diagram (click to enlarge): buisnessinsider.com

Here are the main ingredients usually included:

•  Nicotine. Nicotine is the substance smokers are addicted to. It stimulates the nervous system, raises the heart rate and blood pressure.

•  Propylene glycol. This is the liquid used to make artificial fog at concerts. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

•  Glycerin. Also viewed as safe by the FDA, it’s used in many food and drug products.

•  Flavourings. There are over 7,000 flavourings available worldwide including sweet flavours such as cherry, cinnamon and even tobacco flavour. These chemicals are used in food but there’s no research into their effects on the lungs.

When these substances heat up they form other chemicals including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein, which are probable carcinogens, that is, cancer causing substances.

The Health Aspects

Researchers simply don’t know about the long term effects of e-cigarettes because they haven’t been used for long enough to show any benefits or otherwise. Trials into their ingredients have taken place, which show they are not completely safe. However, in comparison to traditional smoking they are a safer and a healthier option.

The pros of E- cigarettes include:

•  They help people quit smoking - a huge plus for the population’s health and the burden on health systems.

•  Traditional smoking is well known for its cancer causing habits. The American Lung Association reports a traditional cigarette releases 7000 chemicals when burnt and that 69 of those cause cancers. Cigarette smoking can cause a number of health problems. Along with lung cancer, live cancer, mouth and bladder cancer, cervical cancer, cigarette smoking can also lead to kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and male impotence. There are no pros to traditional cigarette smoking.

•  E-cigarettes contain nicotine but no tar, which is the cause of cancer. The National Health Service will soon be clear to prescribe them to those seeking to quit tobacco cigarettes.

•  E-cigarettes don’t cause passive smoking. Nearly all the aerosol is inhaled by the user, whereas cigarettes pollute the air and other people’s lungs. Neal Benowitz, MD former member of the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee said “Seventy-five percent of the smoke generated by cigarettes is side-stream smoke, and that goes into the environment.

The cons of e-cigarettes include:

Researchers don’t know much about the downside of e-cigarettes, but this doesn’t mean they are risk free.

•  Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health investigated 52 types of flavoured e-cigarettes for the chemical diacetyl which is used as a flavouring but causes ‘popcorn lung’ when inhaled. 92% of the e-cigarettes tested flagged it up. Popcorn lung describes tiny tears in air sacs which lead to lung scarring and shortness of breath.

•  Another study from the University of California re-created e-cigarette vapours and tested it on human cells. Cells exposed to the vapour developed DNA damage and died more quickly than untreated cells. Nicotine free e-cigarettes caused 50% more DNA strand breaks than untreated cells.  The researchers suggest that the study shows e-cigarettes are not as safe at the marketing makes out.

•  A reliance on e-cigarettes is still an addiction. Addictions have physical and psychological side effects and disruption everyday life. A nicotine addiction cannot be described as healthy.

•  Some experts are concerned that the nicotine cartridge can be easily replaced with other substances making them a new way to deliver health damaging drugs.

Use In Teenagers

Experts have debated over the use of e-cigarettes in teens. In 2015 UK law changed to make e-cigarettes available to over 18s only, but not all US states have the same law. E-cigarettes are easily ordered online making them available to anyone with an internet connection.

Teens have been subjected to anti-smoking campaigns all their lives. At no point for them has it been ‘safe’ to smoke real cigarettes, but teenagers who take up e-cigarettes as a way of safely smoking may cause themselves harm.

E-cigarettes are products for adults trying to quit smoking, not for recreational enjoyment but the sweet flavouring used to mask the taste of nicotine is appealing to teens who are increasingly taking up the habit. Evidence shows this leads to an uptake of traditional smoking.

Safer Than Traditional Smoking

Although e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional tobacco, and a helpful way for smokers to gradually decrease their smoking habit, e-cigarettes are not without their own risks.

Perhaps the biggest risk is that researchers simply don’t know what the longer term effects are yet. In the past tobacco was prescribed as a cure for asthma so e-cigarettes may well hold undiscovered side effects in store and this in itself is a risk.

Current research shows that inhaling the cocktail of chemicals created by e-cigarettes is potentially harmful. Public bodies and legislators worldwide are evaluating new evidence before implementing regulatory controls.

When taken in relation to traditional tobacco, e-cigarettes are currently a safer alternative, but they should be used as a short-term tool for smokers trying to quit, not as a healthy risk-free habit for non smokers.

This is a guest blog entry.

Travel Insurance Is a Great Idea for the Over 50s Crowd

Traveling on holiday is an event many people look forward to every year, but if you are over the age of 50, it comes with a few special challenges. One of these is the fact that as people get older, they are more likely to have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart problems.

Even if you are on medication for these conditions, it is always a good idea to use extra caution when traveling, because you never know when there might be an emergency of some type. Because of this possibility and many others, it is a good idea to take out medical travel insurance if you have any type of medical challenge. Travel insurance for people over 50 is inexpensive, easy to purchase and provides peace of mind before traveling anywhere in the world. Best of all, there are now companies that offer access to dozens of insurance providers, so that you can choose the plan that is right for you before you leave on your trip.

Different Coverage Types Are Available


Many people incorrectly assume that if they are over the age of 50, medical travel insurance is just too expensive to purchase, but this is no longer the case. Today there are insurance companies that specialize in providing coverage for people over 50, so their coverage is both efficient and inexpensive. Most medical conditions are covered in the policies, as long as they are disclosed beforehand. The policies cover things such as epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, stroke, asthma, HIV, high blood pressure and heart problems. Once again, these conditions must be disclosed to the insurance provider in order to be covered, but will, in fact, be covered once you purchase the policy.

Websites that help you compare different insurance companies’ rates are easy to find and even simpler to use. In fact, you can check out this price comparison for over 50s travel insurance to determine how best to get the policy that you need. These websites allow you to enter a few pieces of basic information, click on the Enter button, and receive quotes from dozens of companies. Since each policy may differ somewhat, it is wise to carefully read over the details of the policy you are considering, but most policies provide excellent coverage and are reasonably priced as well.

Medical Travel Insurance Is Well Worth the Price

Medical travel insurance policies are so inexpensive that it is a wonder why more people do not participate in them. Policies provide coverage for travel almost anywhere in the world, and can be purchased for a single trip or multiple trips during the course of a year. You can also add extras, such as coverage for winter sports and for cruises, so the policies are as personalized and unique as the travelers themselves. Regardless of your medical condition or your destination, purchasing a medical travel insurance policy can provide the peace of mind you need when traveling across the country or across the globe.

This is a guest blog entry.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Top 5 Diabetic Friendly Recipes – Remain in the Pink of Health without Depriving Your Taste-buds

After being diagnosed with diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels in check is solely dependent upon lifestyle regulation with the help of a balanced diet and proper workout regimen. Trading refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugar-loaded edibles with healthier options can lead to a radical positive change.

Have a look at these amazing, yet simple recipes which strike a perfect balance between taste and health.

Tangy Salmon Salad

Protein is an inseparable aspect of recommended meal plans for diabetics. This yummy protein-rich salad is an excellent way of getting started on a low-calorie trip!

List of required ingredients:

•    Salmon fillets – 4 units

•    Hard-boiled eggs – 2 units, sliced into halves

•    Extra-virgin olive oil – 1 tablespoon

•    Kosher salt – 1/4th teaspoon, divided

•    Red wine vinegar – 1/4th cup

•    Black pepper – 1/4th teaspoon, divided

•    Sliced sweet onion – 1/4th cup

•    Minced shallots – 1 tablespoon

•    Dijon mustard – 2 tablespoons

•    Assorted salad greens – 4 cups

•    Pound beans (green)

How to prepare this dish:

At first, preheat your grill by selecting medium-high temperature. Cook the beans in a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes and plunge those into icy-cold water after draining the hot water. Now drain once more and mix the olive oil, mustard, shallots and vinegar along with 1/8th teaspoon each of pepper and salt in a bowl for dressing. Thoroughly stir with a whisk.

Spray olive oil on both sides of the salmon fillets and sprinkle with the remaining quantities of salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets on your grill rack and allow both sides to be done perfectly, till the flesh gets fragmented easily with a fork. Place the mixed greens in a bowl, topping with egg slices, onions and beans. Put the salmon on top, followed by the dressing.

Zesty Lentil Broth

Set your taste-buds on fire with this super-healthy, steaming appetizer!


•    List of required ingredients:

•    Split red lentils – 150g

•    Canned chickpeas – 200g

•    Chopped tomatoes – 400g

•    Red onion – 1 unit, chopped

•    Cumin seeds – 2 teaspoons

•    Water/vegetable stock – 800 ml

•    Chopped coriander leaves

•    Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

•    Greek yogurt (0%) – 4 tablespoons

•    Chili flakes

How to prepare this dish:

Dry-fry the chili flakes and cumin seeds for a minute in a heated pan. Add olive oil plus the chopped onions and stir for 5 minutes. Now pour in the water/stock, chopped tomatoes, lentils, and bring to a boil. Allow 15 minutes simmering time so that the lentils soften. Use a food processor or a blender for whizzing the broth into a thick puree. Replace the soup in the pan and heat after adding chickpeas, coriander and seasoning. Garnish with coriander leaves and top with a dollop of yogurt.

Sugar-Free Granola

What better way of fueling your energy than waking up to a bowl of fruitylicious granola!


•    List of required ingredients:

•    Rolled oats – 2 cups

•    Hung yogurt – 2 tablespoons

•    Flax seeds – 14gms

•    Almonds – 10 units, sliced

•    Sesame seeds – 1 tablespoon

•    Olive oil – 2 tablespoons

•    Sunflower seeds – 1 tablespoon

•    Orange juice – 1/4th cup

•    Assorted berries – raspberries, strawberries and blueberries

How to prepare this dish:

Preheat your oven to a temperature of 325F. Pour the orange juice into the rolled oats, mix all the ingredients and spread evenly on the baking tray. Turn the mixture from time to time, baking for about 45 minutes. Bring out the tray and allow some cooling time before adding the berries, almonds and yogurt immediately prior to serving.

Pork Roast

Fortify your iron levels with this succulent, flavorful dish without giving your system a tough time at all!


List of required ingredients:

•    Fat-free pork fillet – 2 units of 1lb each

•    Couscous – 250g

•    Ground cumin – 3 teaspoons

•    Sultana raisins – 100g

•    Olive oil – 2 teaspoons

•    Lemon zest & lemon juice

•    Grated ginger – 4 teaspoons

•    Fat-free yogurt – 200g

•    Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon, finely ground

•    Chopped mint leaves

How to prepare this dish:

Heat your oven to a temperature of 190C. Place the pork fillets in a non-sticky pan. Keep the flame high and cook till brown, turning them a couple of times. Combine 2 teaspoons of ginger with olive oil, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of cumin, seasoning, and brush the pork fillets with this mixture. Roast to perfection for about half an hour.

Mix the remaining cumin with sultanas, couscous and lemon extracts before poring over 350ml of boiling water. Stir well, keep it covered for a few minutes and add the chopped mint. Stir the yogurt with the leftover ginger and seasoning. Slice the pork and serve with the spicy yogurt.

Baked Apricot-Stuffed Peaches

With the availability of such fabulous options, you can always indulge in a guilt-free ‘sweet’ recess once in a while!


List of required ingredients:

•    Large, ripe peaches – 5 units

•    Egg white – 1 portion

•    Crumbled amaretti cookies – half a dozen

•    Brandy – 1 tablespoon

•    Apricot halves (dried) – 10 units, finely chopped

•    Almond extract – 2 teaspoons

•    Packaged brown sugar (light) – 1/4th cup

How to prepare this dish:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Remove the pits after cutting 4 peaches into halves. Place the halves in boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes till they start becoming tender. Drain and arrange the peaches on a shallow baking tray with the cut sides up. Chop the remaining peach after peeling and pitting. Put the amaretti crumbs, chopped apricots, brandy, almond extract, egg white in a bowl and mix thoroughly with continuous stirring.

Stuff the cavities of peach halves with this filling, gently press and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Put a foil covering on the tray. Bake for about 25 minutes till soft. Finally, uncover and bake at a temperature of 400F till the topping turns golden-brown.

It has been observed that figuring out an appropriate diabetic dietary plan often involves a trial and error method under medical supervision, since the nature of metabolism tends to significantly vary from one individual to another.


Danielle Ward