Smokers Urged to Forgo Cigarettes Today for Great American Smokeout
It's a good day to be a quitter. Thousands are expected to stamp out their cigarettes, at least for one day, as the American Cancer Society hosts its 35th Great American Smokeout—a nationwide push for smokers to stop lighting up. Planned events include parades, rallies, and ceremonial cigarette burials and bonfires. Volunteers will swarm schools, malls, and workplaces, distributing information about quitting, as well as support and advice. In previous years, a national sandwich shop chain handed out free "cold turkey" sandwiches and cookies to smokers who traded in at least a half-pack of cigarettes. And a hospital clothed newborns in "I'm a born nonsmoker" t-shirts. About 46 million adults in the United States currently smoke, the American Cancer Society says. But recent research suggests smoking rates are on the decline: Between 1980 and 2009, the percentage of people who have never smoked rose from 28 percent to 55 percent in men, and from 45 percent to 60 percent in women.
Omega-3 Supplements Won't Fight Irregular Heartbeat
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements don't cut back on recurrences of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that can cause stroke, new research suggests. "We now have definitive data that they don't work for most patients with [atrial fibrillation]," said Dr. Peter R. Kowey, lead author of a study appearing in the December 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that is also scheduled to be presented Monday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Chicago. "Although we can't exclude the possibility of efficacy in sicker AF patients, it would be hard to believe that it would work in that population and not in healthier patients. So for practical purposes, yes, [this is] the end of the line in AF."
This study, the largest of its kind, looked at patients with AF who were otherwise healthy, HealthDay reports. "We cannot say there is any convincing evidence of a role for omega-3 in the prevention of atrial fibrillation," added Dr. Ranjit Suri, director of the Electrophysiology Service and Cardiac Arrhythmia Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved with the trial. [Read more: Omega-3 Supplements Won't Fight Irregular Heartbeat.]
Doctors Warn Against Popular Energy Drinks
Even though energy drinks are hugely popular and can be bought just about anywhere from corner markets to big-box stores to gyms, researchers writing in this month's Mayo Clinic Proceedings urge caution in using them and endorse federal regulation. "What we know is that a typical energy drink can have as much as a quarter cup of sugar, and more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee," the leader researcher, Dr. John Higgins of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, told Reuters Health.
Caffeine content ranges from 70 milligrams (mg) to 200 mg per 16-oz serving. In comparison, an 8 oz. cup of coffee can contain between 40 mg and 150 mg depending on how it's brewed. The problem, Higgins said, is what is not known. Quantities of other ingredients, such as the herbal stimulant guarana, the amino acid taurine, and other herbs, minerals and vitamins that may make up proprietary energy blends are rarely listed, he said. [Read more: Doctors Warn Against Popular Energy Drinks.]
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