Damage from one cannabis smoke equals five cigarettes
PICTURES on the pack show in graphic detail the damage that cigarettes can do to your lungs. Now researchers have found that a single cannabis joint can have the same effect on the lungs as smoking five cigarettes at once. Their findings, published online this week in the journal Thorax , are based on 339 adults aged 25 to 75. Participants were divided into four groups — those who smoked only cannabis (at least one joint a day for five years), those who smoked only tobacco (one pack of cigarettes a day for at least a year), those who smoked both, and those who smoked neither. Their lungs were examined by CT (computed tomography) scan and breathing tests were used to assess how well their lungs worked. While the lung disease emphysema was only seen in tobacco smokers, cannabis smokers had significantly more lung damage and worse lung function than either non-smokers or tobacco smokers. And the more cannabis a person smoked, the greater their level of lung damage. Thorax - 2007;doi:10.1136/thx.2006.077081 (Aldington S, et al) DRUGS commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes may double the risk of heart failure, even among those with no history of heart disease, according to a new report in Diabetes Care . The authors analysed the results of 249 studies looking at the effect of drugs called TZDs (thiazolidinediones, including rosiglitazone and pioglitazone). Overall, the studies involved more than 78,000 patients. In the studies that compared TZDs to a placebo, the risk of heart failure was more than twice as high in those taking the drugs. The authors estimate that one in every 50 diabetic patients taking TZDs over a 26-month period will develop heart failure. These drugs already carry warnings that they should not be used in patients with more severe cases of heart failure, or in combination with insulin. But the authors suggest that the warnings should now include patients without any other risk factors for heart failure. DiabetesCare 2007;30:2148-2153 (Singh S, et al) EVEN low levels of air pollution can boost the chances of an early death, according to new research published online in Thorax . Researchers examined long-term records of air quality from different regions across the UK. For each region, they calculated the average black smoke and sulfur dioxide levels each year between 1966 and 1998, and compared this to national data on causes of death. More than 5000 adults aged 30 and over were included in the study. There was a strong association between black smoke and sulphur dioxide levels and earlier death, particularly from respiratory disease. Pollution levels dropped over the study period, but the increased risk of early death remained, even at the relatively low levels of air pollution in recent times. In 1994-1998, the risk of an early death from respiratory disease rose by 19 per cent for every 10 micrograms per cubic metre increase in black smoke, and by 22 per cent for every 10 parts per billion increase in sulphur dioxide. Thorax 2007;doi:10.1136/thx.2006.076851 (Elliott P, et al) ANTIBIOTIC use in children is still high enough to cause resistance to these drugs in the general community, claim researchers in the BritishMedicalJournal this week, and they encourage doctors to further reduce antibiotic prescriptions. Their study included 119 children attending general practices in Oxfordshire, UK, with a severe respiratory infection. An antibiotic called amoxicillin was given to 71 of the children, and 48 received no antibiotics. Their medical information was recorded and throat swabs were taken at the start of the study and again at two and 12 weeks to measure the levels of antibioticresistant bacteria. In the children who did not receive an antibiotic, there was no increase over time in the proportion carrying resistant bacteria. But in children who received amoxicillin, the proportion carrying resistant bacteria more than doubled at the two-week follow-up. Although the effect was temporary in the individual children, the increase in resistant bacteria may be enough to maintain a high level of antibiotic resistance in the population, warn the authors. BMJ 2007;doi:10.1136/bmj.39274.647465.BE (Chung A, et al) CHILDREN of soldiers experience more neglect and maltreatment when their parent is deployed to a combat zone, claims a new report in the JournaloftheAmericanMedical Association . Parental stress is thought to play an important role in child maltreatment, which includes neglect as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployment and increased stress for the parent left at home. Researchers studied the impact of combat-related deployment between September 2001 and December 2004 on 1771 families of enlisted soldiers in the US Army. Each of these families had been involved in one or more substantiated claims of child maltreatment. Within this group, 1858 parents maltreated their children. The rate of child maltreatment during deployments was 42 per cent higher than during times when the enlisted parent was at home. JAMA 2007;298:528-535 (Gibbs DA, et al) FIBROIDS— non-cancerous growths in the uterus that affect one in four women— can be effectively treated using a non-invasive ultrasound method, as described in the journal ObstetricsandGynecology this week. Fibroids commonly strike women during their reproductive years, with symptoms including severe abdominal and leg pain, excessive menstrual bleeding and abdominal bloating. The new treatment approach, called magnetic resonance imaging guided focused ultrasound surgery, destroys the fibroids by directing high-energy sound waves across the abdominal wall. The treatment was tested in 359 women aged in their mid-to-late 40s, with follow-up at six, 12 and 24 months after treatment. Compared to before treatment, symptom severity was significantly less at 24 months. The more completely the fibroids were destroyed, the longer the symptom relief, and the incidence of severe side effects was low. ObstetGynecol 2007;110:279-287 (Stewart EA, et al) Want to know more? Items are referenced where possible. A reference such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source article was published on pages 18-25 in volume number 35 of the publication, in 2007. A doi number or website address is used for research published on a journal’s website.
War zone: Active service has a knock-on effect within families