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Entries from December 2008

Marijuana Use and Pregnancy Failure

December 31st, 2008 · No Comments

A study from Vanderbilt University that appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reveals that marijuana use at the time of conception and early in pregnancy prevents embryos’ safe passage from the ovary to the uterus, resulting in early pregnancy failure.

Marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug among women of reproductive age, binds to 2 receptors — cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1, CB2) — which are found in the brain and other organs including sperm, eggs, and newly formed embryos. Normally, these 2 receptors are activated by the naturally occurring signaling molecule anandamide. Anandamide formation by the enzyme NAPE-PLD is carefully balanced with its degradation by the enzyme FAAH, resulting in a finely tuned local “anandamide tone” in embryos and the oviduct. This balance is required for normal embryonic development, transport along the oviduct, implantation in the uterus, and full-term pregnancy.

The results of the study show that drugs such as THC persist and swamp these finely tuned signaling systems and as such the use of THC-containing drugs such as marijuana may lead to ectopic pregnancy and/or impaired fertility in women.

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Tags: Marijuana Addiction

Light Cigarettes Are More Toxic

December 31st, 2008 · No Comments

cigarette smoke A UC Riverside study shows that smoke from “light” or “low-yield” harm-reduction cigarettes retains toxicity and that this toxicity can affect prenatal development.

The research also studied the effects of two kinds of cigarette smoke: mainstream smoke, which is smoke actively inhaled by smokers; and sidestream smoke, which is smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette.

Tobacco companies market harm-reduction cigarettes as being safer than traditional “full-flavored” brands, leading many smokers to conclude that the use of harm-reduction brands lowers their exposure to toxicants.

“Many chemicals found in harm-reduction cigarette smoke have not been tested, and some are listed by manufacturers as safe,” said Prue Talbot, a professor of cell biology who led the study. “But our tests clearly show that these chemicals adversely affect reproduction and associated development processes. Pregnant women would be particularly vulnerable to the effect of smoke from these cigarettes.”

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Tags: Smoking - Nicotine Addiction

Alcohol, Drugs and Holidays

December 19th, 2008 · No Comments

Daniel Amen, MD is a physician, psychiatrist, author and a pioneer in brain imaging.

In his recent newsletter, he states that January is the busiest month in mental health treatment nationwide. For many, the holidays bring a lot of unpleasant memories, unrealized expectations and stress. It is easy to get into the comfort zone of overeating, isolating and abusing alcohol and drugs.

Unfortunately, the temporary relief provided by indulging wears off fast and leaves you feeling worse. And, the damage you do to your brain sets the stage for repeated failure.

As to brain scans, Dr Amen discovered that a healthy scan shows full, even, symmetrical activity. Drug and alcohol abuse tended to cause overall decreased activity in the brain. These brains looked more aged, more shriveled, and more toxic than the brains of people who did not use drugs.

Heroin and heroin-like drugs, called opiates, caused severe decreased activity, as did much alcohol. Methamphetamines and cocaine tended to cause what looked like multiple holes or mini-strokes in the brain. Marijuana caused decreased activity in the frontal and temporal lobe areas (areas involved with memory and motivation).

One of the most powerful lessons learned from imaging is that many people who abuse substances are really trying to change their own brain chemistry (self medication).

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Tags: Drugs and Brain Disorders

Nurses and Smoking

December 7th, 2008 · No Comments

Can you believe this photo!

A nurse helps her patient light up a cigarette in a 1943 Saturday Evening Post cover. (Image courtesy of UCLA)

A recent UCLA School of Nursing study is the first to reveal the devastating consequences of smoking on the nursing profession. Published in the November–December edition of the journal Nursing Research, the findings describe smoking trends and death rates among U.S. nurses and emphasize the importance of supporting smoking cessation programs in the nursing field.

“Nurses witness firsthand how smoking devastates the health of their patients with cancer and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” said principal investigator Linda Sarna, D.N.Sc, a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing. “Yet nurses struggle with nicotine addiction like the rest of the 45 million smokers in America. We are concerned that nurses who smoke may be less apt to support tobacco-control programs or encourage their patients to quit.”

Sarna led a team of researchers who analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a historic study on women’s health. Launched at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the mid-1970s, the study relied upon surveys completed every two years by 237,648 female registered nurses about their health, including smoking habits.

The Nurses’ Health Study is the largest study of women’s health in the world,” Sarna said. “From a workforce perspective, however, the findings also hold a mirror up to the well-being of nurses, the largest group of health care professionals in the country.”

The current UCLA research explored changes in smoking trends and death rates among female nurses enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1976 and 2003, a span of 27 years.

The research compared the differences in death rates among nurses who never smoked, former smokers and current smokers. In all age groups, roughly twice as many current smokers had died in comparison to nurses who never smoked.

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Tags: Smoking - Nicotine Addiction

Self Help Addiction Programs Are Widely used

December 6th, 2008 · No Comments

Based on a recent nationwide survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a report reveals that 5 million people participate in self-help groups each year. (That is a lot of people who need help!)

Among the report’s notable findings:

• An annual average of 5 million persons aged 12 or older attended a self-help group in the past year because of their use of alcohol or illicit drugs

• 45.3 percent attended a group because of their alcohol use only and 21.8 percent attended a group because of their illicit drug use only, while 33.0 percent attended a group because of their use of both alcohol and illicit drugs

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Tags: News - Addiction and Alternative Health