Smoking, Teenagers & Tobacco Company Advertising

April 25, 2010 by Robert Wascher  
Filed under Weekly Health Update

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers” 

SMOKING, TEENAGERS & TOBACCO COMPANY ADVERTISING

More than 40 years after the landmark United States Surgeon General’s report on smoking, cigarettes and other forms of tobacco continue to be the leading cause of preventable death around the world.  In the United States, alone, tobacco causes more than half a million unnecessary deaths every year from cancer and other tobacco-associated diseases.  In 2010, cancer will replace all other diseases as the single greatest cause of death, worldwide.  Most public health experts attribute the rising global incidence of cancer to the ongoing increase in the incidence of smoking in the developing world. 

In the United States, the incidence of smoking continues to slowly decrease (although, sadly, mostly among the male half of the population) as a consequence of increased public education efforts, as well as increasingly restrictive laws against tobacco advertising and public smoking.  In response to these public health policy efforts to reduce the incidence of smoking in the United States, tobacco companies have had to become more creative in their efforts to replenish the dwindling pool of smokers in America.  Thus, despite their energetic denials to the contrary, tobacco companies continue to target teens and very young adults in their advertising campaigns, because the harsh and unequivocal reality of the tobacco industry is that 80 to 85 percent of all smokers become addicted to tobacco during their pre-teen or teenage years.  Therefore, following the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, in which American tobacco companies agreed to stop directly targeting pre-teens and teens with tobacco advertisements, the Big Tobacco companies have had to become more nimble and more creative in their efforts to addict a new generation of pre-teens, teens, and young adults to their deadly products, while simultaneously circumventing the restrictions imposed upon them by the Master Settlement Agreement.

 

R.J. Reynolds, a huge player in the international tobacco trade, recently rolled out (no pun intended) a new brand of cigarette targeted at female smokers.  “Camel No. 9,” like other brands previously targeted towards teen and adult women, is distinctively packaged and designed with “feminine sensibilities” in mind.  In 2007, Camel No. 9 cigarettes joined the stable of prior and current cigarettes designed and marketed to appeal specifically to females, including the notorious Virginia Slims brand (produced and marketed by Phillip Morris), as well as the Capri and Misty brands.  While the Camel cigarette brand had previously been targeted at male smokers, Camel No. 9 was rolled out, 3 years ago, by R. J. Reynolds, with launch parties targeted specifically at women, at nightclubs and bars around the country.  These launch parties have often been described as “girls’ night out” parties for women smokers, and have included free massages, free hair styling, free gift bags containing cosmetics and jewelry and, of course, free samples of Camel No. 9 cigarettes.  Additionally, as with the Virginia Slims brand, and other cigarettes targeted to female smokers, full-page advertisements in glamour magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour have targeted the almost exclusively female readers of these magazines with advertisements for Camel No. 9 cigarettes.  These marketing campaigns are, of course, designed not only to gain new customers among women who are already addicted to tobacco, but also, and more importantly, to increase the ranks of smokers with new recruits among current nonsmokers, and in a setting (i.e., nightclubs and bars, where alcohol is also being consumed) where nonsmokers and “occasional smokers” can be targeted by R.J. Reynolds.

 

A newly published clinical research study, in the journal Pediatrics, reveals how tobacco companies continue to effectively target highly vulnerable pre-teens and teenagers in the United States.

In this nationwide prospective study, 1,036 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 13 years were prospectively followed between 2003 and 2008.  Five sequential telephone interviews were conducted during the course of this study, which included discussions of the teens’ impressions of their favorite cigarette advertisements.  The fifth and final interview was conducted after R.J. Reynolds’ roll-out of their 2007 campaign on behalf of the new Camel No. 9 brand of cigarettes.

A total of 72 percent of the teenagers participating in this public health study completed all 5 telephone interviews.  Not surprisingly, the teens who reported having one or more favorite cigarette advertisements were 50 percent more likely to take up smoking during the 5-year duration of this clinical study when compared to the teens who did not have any favorite tobacco advertisements.  Among the boys participating in this study, the percentage of teenagers who identified any favorite cigarette advertisements remained stable throughout the 5 sequential interviews, including the fifth interview in 2008 (after Camel No. 9 was introduced by R.J. Reynolds).  However, while the percentage of girls reporting a favorite cigarette advertisement also remained stable throughout the first 4 telephone interviews, this percentage jumped by a significant 10 percentage points after the marketing campaign for Camel No. 9 was unleashed by R.J. Reynolds, at the time of the fifth and final interview.  Moreover, this 10 percent increase in teenage girls reporting a favorite cigarette advertisement was almost completely associated, specifically, with advertisements for the Camel No. 9 brand. 

Taken together, the results of this important public health study reveals two very concerning findings:  (1) Adolescents who express a preference for any specific cigarette advertisements are at least 50 percent more likely to take up smoking during their teen years, and (2) teenage girls (but not teenage boys) appeared to be significantly impacted by R. J. Reynolds’ 2007 advertising campaign for its new “feminine” Camel No. 9 cigarette brand. 

 

One does not have to be a lawyer, or a public health expert, to put “2 and 2 together, and come up with 4,” with respect to the findings and conclusions of this important public health study.  In order to maintain and replenish their customer base of active smokers, tobacco companies must continuously recruit new smokers from the most vulnerable segments of our population: pre-teens, teenagers, and very young adults.  Although Big Tobacco companies claim to be following the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement’s restrictions on advertising targeted to children and teens, the economic reality is that as older smokers die off (and, very often, due to tobacco-associated diseases…), these merchants of death must continually replace their shrinking pool of potential and active customers with newly-addicted young customers.  As the troubling findings of this clinical research study demonstrate, the advertising campaign for Camel No. 9 has not only been effective in recruiting new female converts to this brand among current smokers, but also in attracting the essential new converts from among the tobacco companies’ prime recruiting demographic: pre-teen, teenage, and young adult females.  We should not delude ourselves, therefore, by the frequent protestations of tobacco companies, that they are following both the rules and the intent of legal restrictions on advertising to pre-teen and teenage boys and girls, as their continued existence as commercially viable companies mandates that they continue to addict pre-teens and teenagers (and young adults) to their deadly products.

In addition to their ongoing efforts to addict American pre-teens and teenagers to tobacco, American and multinational tobacco conglomerates have also ramped up the same aggressive and deceptive advertising campaigns that worked so well for decades in the United States, and these Big Tobacco companies are now applying these same effective (and expensive) marketing campaigns throughout the developing world, where vast numbers of potential new and existing smokers can be targeted without significant legal restrictions against such advertising (and where little or no emphasis is placed upon public health and disease prevention by local government officials, in many cases).

 

To learn more about the surprising effectiveness of Big Tobacco’s campaigns to specifically target teenagers, and adult women, and the tragic public health consequences of these campaigns, look for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.





Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can. 


In view of the extreme devastation and human misery brought about in Haiti and Chile by the recent earthquakes, Weekly Health Update asks our tens of thousands of caring readers to give generously to established charities that are currently working in those countries to assist the injured, the ill, and the homeless.  There are many such legitimate charities, including the following two:

http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti 


 

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Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels

April 18, 2010 by Robert Wascher  
Filed under Weekly Health Update

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”

COFFEE IMPROVES HDL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS

Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world (following oil), and is widely consumed around the world as the second most popular beverage (after water). It is estimated that the coffee industry generates some $60 billion in revenue every year.

In the United States, coffee drinkers consume an average of 3 cups of this caffeine-loaded beverage each day. (Slightly more than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, while another 30 percent of the population drinks coffee on an occasional basis.)

Many health claims have been for coffee, although few have withstood the scrutiny of serious research. However, previous research studies have suggested that regular coffee consumption may reduce inflammation in the body, and increase HDL levels (HDL is also known as “the good cholesterol”). A newly published clinical research study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has evaluated these claims, and the results of this research study will be of considerable interest to coffee lovers everywhere.

In this study, 47 volunteers who regularly consumed coffee were evaluated. During the first month of this study, these research volunteers refrained from drinking coffee. During the second month of this study, each volunteer consumed 4 cups of filtered coffee per day (each cup contained 150 ml of coffee). Finally, during the third month of this study, each volunteer consumed a nerve-jangling 8 cups of filtered coffee per day! Blood samples were collected throughout this research study, and were tested for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”), and caffeine, as well as for several markers of inflammation.

In this study, the regular daily consumption of 8 cups of coffee per day was found to significantly reduce the blood levels of several proteins associated with chronic inflammation (by as much as 16 percent, when compared to no coffee consumption). Moreover, HDL cholesterol levels increased by 7 percent during the final phase of this study (when compared to the “no coffee” first phase), when the research volunteers were consuming 8 cups of coffee per day (and the ratio between LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol decreased by 8 percent during the final phase of this study). At the same time, although previous research has suggested that coffee consumption may improve glucose control in diabetics, there was no evidence of improved glucose metabolism or blood-glucose levels with increasing coffee intake in this particular study.

Therefore, this intriguing little prospective clinical research study revealed that drinking 8 cups of coffee per day appeared to decrease the level of inflammation-associated proteins in the body, while also increasing levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol in the blood. However, this small and brief study cannot answer the very important question of whether or not these observed biochemical changes in the blood will actually translate into improved health. Nonetheless, this study’s finding that HDL cholesterol levels increase with regular daily coffee intake may indeed be good news for folks with mildly-to-moderately decreased HDL levels. Longer term prospective clinical studies will be necessary, however, to quantify the actual health benefit, if any, of regular coffee consumption.

 

To learn more about the critical role of diet as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle, look for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.






Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month. As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.



In view of the extreme devastation and human misery brought about in Haiti and Chile by the recent earthquakes, Weekly Health Update asks our tens of thousands of caring readers to give generously to established charities that are currently working in those countries to assist the injured, the ill, and the homeless.  There are many such legitimate charities, including the following two:


http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti

http://www.redcross.org/




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Cruciferous Vegetables, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk

April 11, 2010 by Robert Wascher  
Filed under Weekly Health Update

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers” 

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES, SOY & BREAST CANCER RISK

 

The role of soybean-derived isoflavones in cancer prevention is not entirely clear at this time.  However, there has been intense interest in tofu, and other soy-derived foods, as potential breast cancer prevention agents.  At the same time, because genistein, and other soy isoflavones, are known to variably act as both inhibitors and mimics of estrogen (the primary female sex hormone), cancer experts remain divided regarding the safety of regularly consuming soy isoflavones by women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer (chronic estrogen stimulation of the breast is a known risk factor for breast cancer).  Meanwhile, the high level of tofu consumption among women in the Far East, coupled with the much lower incidence of breast cancer in those countries when compared to the United States and other western countries, has fuelled speculation that tofu and other soy-derived foods may actually be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. 

In addition to soy isoflavones, there is also research data available suggesting that the frequent consumption of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, may also be associated with a decreased risk of at least some types of cancer, including breast cancer.

A newly published public health study from Singapore evaluated the impact of the regular intake of vegetables, fruit, and soy-derived foods on the risk of breast cancer within the large Chinese population in that country.  This enormous prospective epidemiological study, which began in 1993, and which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included more than 34,000 women volunteers.  All of the 34,018 women in this study underwent detailed evaluation of their diets when they entered into this prospective public health study.  Among this very large group of women, 629 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed during the course of this ongoing study. 

Based upon their self-reported dietary patterns, the women participating in this large epidemiological study were divided into two groups.  The first group consisted of women who regularly consumed cruciferous vegetables, fruit, and tofu.  The second group of women generally favored meat and starchy foods (such as dim sum), and consumed far fewer portions of vegetables, fruit, and tofu when compared to the first group.

The results of this study indicated that increasing levels of vegetable, fruit and tofu intake were associated with a significant decrease in breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.   Among the women reporting the highest levels of intake of these foods, there was, on average, a 30 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer when compared to the women who rarely ate these healthy foods.  Moreover, among the postmenopausal women who frequently consumed vegetables, fruit, and tofu, and who were observed for 5 or more years in this study, the apparent reduction in the risk of breast cancer grew even stronger, and these women were found to be 43 percent less likely to develop breast cancer when compared to women who rarely consumed vegetables, fruit, and tofu in their diets.

Therefore, in this large diet survey-based, prospective public health study,  a diet rich in vegetables (and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, in particular), fruit, and tofu was strongly associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk in postmenopausal Chinese women living in Singapore.

Although there remains some concern that soy isoflavones may, under some conditions, actually stimulate the growth of either new or previous breast cancers (or cancers of the ovary or uterus), this public health study’s favorable findings are additive to a growing body of research data suggesting that both cruciferous vegetables and soy-derived isoflavones may be associated with a substantial decrease in the risk of breast cancer in women. 

 

To learn more about the potential role of cruciferous vegetables and soy isoflavones as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle, look for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can. 


In view of the extreme devastation and human misery brought about in Haiti and Chile by the recent earthquakes, Weekly Health Update asks our tens of thousands of caring readers to give generously to established charities that are currently working in those countries to assist the injured, the ill, and the homeless.  There are many such legitimate charities, including the following two:

http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti 


 

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Avodart (Dutasteride) & Prostate Cancer Prevention

April 4, 2010 by Robert Wascher  
Filed under Weekly Health Update

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers” 


AVODART (DUTASTERIDE) & PROSTATE CANCER PREVENTION

 

Because most prostate cancers, like breast cancer, are fueled by sex hormones, the prevention of prostate cancer through the use of hormone-blocking medications is an attractive potential strategy.

Two medications, finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), are FDA-approved to treat the benign enlargement of the prostate that commonly occurs with increasing age (also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH).  Both of these medications have recently been evaluated in prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research trials as potential prostate cancer prevention agents.  Finasteride and dutasteride are 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, and function by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone by this enzyme (dihydrotestosterone is the biologically active male sex hormone within the prostate gland).  Finasteride inhibits one of the two known forms of 5-alpha-reductase, while dutasteride (Avodart) inhibits both forms.

Finasteride (Proscar) has previously been evaluated in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which enrolled nearly 19,000 men (55 years of age and older) who were without any clinical evidence of prostate cancer at the time they entered the study.  These men were randomly assigned to receive either finasteride or an identical placebo pill, and the entire cohort of men was then followed for a period of 7 years.  After 7 years of follow-up, 18 percent of the men who had been secretly randomized to receive finasteride were diagnosed with prostate cancer, while 24 percent of the men who had received the placebo pill (unknown to them at the time) developed prostate cancer.  Thus, taking finasteride for 7 years was associated with a 25 percent reduction in the relative risk of prostate cancer during the relatively brief course of this clinical study.  However, a potentially significant downside was also observed in this study, as the men who received finasteride, and who still went on to develop prostate cancer, tended to have more aggressive tumors when compared to the men in the placebo group (37 percent versus 22 percent, respectively).  Moreover, and not surprisingly, since finasteride blocks the active metabolite of testosterone, sexual dysfunction and breast enlargement were more common among the men taking finasteride when compared to the men in the placebo group. 

Following the intriguing results with finasteride (Proscar) in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, there has been a great deal of anticipation building for results of the recently completed dutasteride (Avodart) prostate cancer prevention trial.  Now, the results of this important cancer prevention study have just been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  This prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study lasted for 4 years, and included 6,729 men at high risk of developing prostate cancer.  These men, all of whom were between 50 and 75 years of age, were secretly randomized to receive either 0.5 mg of dutasteride (Avodart) per day or an identical placebo pill.  As part of this research study’s protocol, all of these men underwent needle biopsies of the prostate gland at 2 years and 4 years after entering the study.  By the end of the study, 20 percent of the men who had received dutasteride (Avodart) had developed prostate cancer, while 25 percent of the men in the placebo (control) group were diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Thus, there was an observed 25 percent decrease in the relative risk of prostate cancer among the group of men that was randomized to receive dutasteride (Avodart) for 4 years (and a 5 percent absolute reduction in prostate cancer risk with Avodart).  As was observed in the finasteride (Proscar) study, however, there was also a higher incidence of more aggressive (i.e., higher grade) tumors observed among the men who took dutasteride (Avodart) when compared to the men in the placebo group, although only a very small number of these high grade tumors were identified in either group of men.  Finally, and not surprisingly, the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), including difficulties in passing urine, were much improved among the men randomized to take dutasteride (Avodart).

Because it is still too soon to determine whether or not finasteride or dutasteride are able to significantly reduce the risk of death due to prostate cancer, there is no consensus at this time, among most prostate cancer experts, regarding the use of these hormone-blocking agents as prostate cancer prevention agents.  However, for men with significant prostate cancer risk factors, it may be prudent to consider the use of Proscar or Avodart.

 

To learn more about the potential role of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors in cancer risk reduction, look for the publication of my new landmark book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the spring/summer of this year.


Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can. 


In view of the extreme devastation and human misery brought about in Haiti and Chile by the recent earthquakes, Weekly Health Update asks our tens of thousands of caring readers to give generously to established charities that are currently working in those countries to assist the injured, the ill, and the homeless.  There are many such legitimate charities, including the following two:

http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti

 


 

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