Category Archives: Health & Lifestyle

vitamins

Vitamin K2 Benefits

vitaminsSo, what are the benefits of Vitamin K2?  There’s been a lot of discussion about the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, but lately researchers are starting to recognize the one often-misunderstood vitamin that goes unnoticed.

A huge number of the population is deficient in vitamin K, principally vitamin K1 and K2.  Cees Vermeer, Ph.D. is a world’s leading authority on vitamin K2 from the Netherlands. He says that inadequacy in this vitamin is the rule rather than the exception, especially one form that is called menaquinon-7.  

There are several forms of vitamin K and the best foods to eat for vitamin K1, all of them cooked, are: kale, spinach, collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens and turnip greens. These vitamin K1 foods are involved in blood coagulation that helps to stop bleeding. When consuming this vitamin your intestines parcel it out in portions known as chylomicrons, and disperse it through your lymphatic system into your blood.

Vitamin K2 has two basic and crucial functions dealing with cardiovascular health and bone restoration.  Several other valuable things are helping to prevent osteoporosis and hardening of the arteries, directing calcium to places like your bones, optimizing sexual function, creating insulin to stabilize your blood sugar, suppressing genes that can promote cancer and enhancing your ability to utilize energy as you exercise improving overall performance.

Vitamin K2 refers to a collection of MK that are found in a variety of foods.  MK-4 regulates gene expression. It is important as all animals and humans are able to synthesize it from other forms of vitamin K.  You can obtain MK-4 from animal foods, but because the conversion process is inefficient and likely varies, depending on your health status and genetic factors.  Also, certain drugs as statins that lower your cholesterol and some osteoporosis drugs, inhibit the vitamin K conversion to MK-4.

Not receiving enough K2 might cause problems with heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. These are all signs of the K2 deficiency. Poor diet might also affect your vitamin K status. Increase your intake of green leafy vegetables for K1 and grass-fed raw dairy products and fermented foods for K2.  A general recommended guideline is around 150 mcg of vitamin K2 per day. Some others might recommend a slightly higher amount that is upwards of 180 to 200 mcg.  By eating 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of natto or fermented vegetables each day you can obtain healthy amounts of K2. If you choose to opt for a vitamin K2 supplement, make sure that it’s MK-7.  Also remember to take it with fat because it’s fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed otherwise. Don’t worry about overdosing on K2 as it appears to be virtually non-toxic, however, those who are taking vitamin K antagonists (drugs that reduce blood clotting by reducing the action of vitamin K) are advised to avoid MK-7 supplements.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Desk job

Standing for Our Health

Desk jobThe average U.S. adult spends up to 10 hours a day sitting.  This is a habit viewed as a normal integral part of daily life with working at a desk job or commuting long hours.  We aren’t doing our bodies any favors by sitting so much as it contributes to rising rates of overweight and obesity, chronic disease and even sometimes premature death.

Kelly Starrett holds a Ph.D. in physical therapy and is the author of “Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World.”  He is a leader in the CrossFit movement and stresses the importance of having proper body mechanics both in and outside the gym.  He addresses biomechanical inadequacies that might increase your risk of injury. Kelly and Juliet are a husband-and-wife team and experts on movement and how it can make or break your health.  Their venture, StandUpKids.org is the product of their own role as parents to improve the health of kids across the U.S. This venture began when they volunteered at their daughters’ school and were disturbed to see the kids were having a hard time with the sack race at field day.  

They believe that sitting too much at a desk all day leads to decreased functionality and affects a child’s cognition.  The children attempting the sack race had decreased functionality as a result of this excessive sitting. Since the beginning of their non-profit organization, they have given about 35,000 U.S. school kids access to standing desks in the classroom.  This change is not only physical in nature but is linked to better learning in the classroom and improved productivity at work. The muscle activity acts as a stimulus to keep the brain alert.

It’s all about moving more and listening to what your body is saying.  Giving up that chair seems overwhelming to think about, but it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.  Think of other ways to move more and include sitting on the floor can have moving advantages over sitting in a more confined chair.  Standing up does take you out of sedentary mode and you will likely stretch, lean, bend and pace. All movement counts toward your daily activity.

After sitting for six, eight or 10 hours a day it may take some time to adjust to standing and moving more and won’t happen over night.  The average student in the U.S. spends 4.5 hours a day sitting at school and an additional 7 hours sitting in front of a screen. Therefore, 85% of their waking hours is spent sitting.

Standup Kids has partnered with a number of corporations, giving children the much-needed opportunity to move more in school by installing standing desks, complete with fidget bars. The University of California Berkeley and the local county public health department have partnered to try to get more research done. There has been concern about “forcing” kids to stand all day, but this isn’t about standing still for long hours.  They do have access to stools, should they want to use them, but the teachers are saying they rarely do.

Interventions can help you avoid chronic diseases and orthopedic problems as neck problems, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee problems, lower extremity problems, shoulder dysfunction, poor diaphragm function, low back pain, hernias, pelvic floor dysfunction and hip dysfunction.  Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? They do to me! With age comes most of the above.

Standing is not only good for children as a prevention method against poor health, but as adults we could learn a lot about standing to help our own bodies as well.  Many suffer from sitting-induced range-of-motion problems and might increase the risk of injury and compromise long-term athletic and movement abilities.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Poor Carb Diets & Cancer Risk

breadAn article by EJ Mundell reported that even those people who’ve never smoked could get lung cancer.  A new study suggests their risk for the disease may rise if they eat a diet rich in certain carbohydrates.  These are high glycemic index diets that trigger higher levels of insulin in the blood and tend to be heavy in refined poor quality carbs, according to one expert.

Dr. Rishi Jain, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, says that the glycemic load and index are methods to estimate the quality and quantity of dietary carbohydrates.  A couple of examples of these high glycemic index foods would be white bread and white potatoes.

As the rates of obesity and heart risk factors rise in the U.S., so does the number of Americans with insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes.  Insulin-linked disorders are often tied to high-glycemic diets and have been implicated as potential contributors to a variety of chronic conditions that include certain cancers.  Dr. Xifeng Wu, chair of cancer prevention at the university of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, conducted a new study to help answer the question “if lung cancer could be one of those malignancies.”

Dr. Xifeng Wu and her team looked at the health and dietary histories of more than 1,900 people with lung cancer and more than 2,400 people without the disease.  The intake of foods with a high glycemic index, such as the white bread and potatoes, were specifically looked at by the investigators. Those people who registered in the top 5th in terms of a high-glycemic diet had a 49% greater risk of developing lung cancer versus those in the bottom 5th.  The trend was stronger when the study focused on people who had never smoked.  Those who scored highest in terms of a high-glycemic diet had more than double the odds of lung cancer compared to never-smokers who had the lowest glycemic index scores.  The findings of this study was reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.  

Focusing on never-smokers is important as it eliminates smoking as a confounding risk factor showing the potential role of diet in lung cancer risk.  Smoking is a major factor for lung cancer but does not account for all the variations in lung cancer risk.

Stephanie Melkonian, a study co-author says that high-glycemic diets are linked to insulin resistance, which may encourage the activity of certain cellular growth factor chemicals that are known to play a role in cancer.  Their study can’t prove the cause-and-effect and also fails to take into account the potential role of other illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. The downstream effect of a high-glycemic diet on cellular growth factors explaining the link to lung cancer risk was agreed on by Jain.  He further stated that this association was more pronounced in nonsmokers, suggesting that increased intake of poorer quality carbs might be more detrimental in this group.

The study contributes to the growing evidence that poor dietary habits and obesity do play a critical role in cancer development.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Koji

New Food Trend, Koji

KojiConsumer behavior is beginning to change in regards to food and is embracing more traditional foods. They are also relearning ancient culinary methods such as fermenting. This could be one of the most positive food trends in many decades as these fermented foods are really important for optimal gut health and plays a crucial role in how the microbiome plays in our overall health and mental wellbeing.

Your microbiome is one of the environmental factors that drives genetic expression that turns the genes on and off, depending on which microbes are present.  According to research, many are deficient in beneficial gut bacteria.

Koji (Asperfillus oryzae) is now embraced by chefs around the world.  It is a type of fungus that has been used for millennia in China and Japan.  Asperfillus ferments and produces a number of enzymes known to be beneficial for animal and human health, which aids digestion and promotes a healthy gut.  Sake, soy sauce, rice vinegar and miso soup are Asian foods and beverages made with koji. Western chefs are experimenting and coming up with all sorts of new koji-fermented products.

Koji is used to tenderize meats, cutting the time required to dry and age the meat from 45 days to as little as 48 hours.  Koji looks a bit like rice pudding or little grains covered in powder. Over time the enzymes in the koji breaks down the connective tissue in steak and rids the meat of its moisture.  The meat is beginning to decompose, and that is what makes it so tender.

Another use for koji is to use it as a marinade for fish, chicken and vegetables.  Marinade for as little as 30 to 60 minutes and keep in mind that the food may burn faster than normal when cooked.  It’s salty enough so do not add extra salt. Koji can also be used as a salt substitute.

The fermentation process produces:

  • Beneficial healthy bacteria that promotes gut health
  • Beneficial enzymes
  • Certain nutrients, including B vitamins, biotin and folic acid
  • Increased bioavailability of minerals
  • Short-chain fatty acids that help improve your immune system function

Optimizing your gut health is a foundational step.  Most people have poor gut health and would benefit from eating more fermented foods.  Fiber serves as a prebiotic and is another important component. Ways that probiotic foods influence your health and well being are: enhancing nutritional content of the food, restoration of normal gut flora when taking antibiotics, immune system enhancement, improvement of symptoms of lactose intolerance, reduced risk of infection from pathogenic microorganisms, weight loss aid, reduced constipation or diarrhea, can help prevent allergies in children, antioxidant and detoxifying effects, reduced risk for helicobacter pylori, improvement of leaky gut, reduced urinary and female genital tract infections, improvement of premenstrual syndrome, improvement of and reduced risk for atopic dermatitis and acne, reduced risk for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, improved mental health, mood control and behavior, improvement of autistic symptoms and reduced risk of brain diseases.

Optimizing your microbiome could be a potent disease prevention strategy.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Low-Dose Aspirin & Cancer

AspirinAna Sandolu has written another article explaining the use of low-dose aspirin and the prevention of cancer.  As well known, cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and death worldwide and is predicted to increase in the following years.  Making healthy lifestyle choices and getting tested if at risk are some prevention strategies. I have always been aware of taking a “baby” aspirin for heart maintenance but never as a possible prevention of cancer.  The new research is suggesting that a small dose of aspirin may help prevent the formation of cancer cells and explains how.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that cancer is one of the leading causes of death accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 alone.  They recommend making healthy lifestyle and dietary choices as well as avoiding tobacco, alcohol and staying physically active with a diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The idea that low-dose aspirin intake may also help to prevent cancer and inhibit the proliferation of cancer cell reinforces the idea through new research.  The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended in September of 2015, the daily use of a small dose of aspirin to help with cardiovascular disease as well as colorectal cancer.

This low dose of aspirin may very well inhibit cancer cell proliferation and metastasis.  The scientists from Oregon Health and Science University in collaboration with Oregon State University published their research results in the journal AJF-Cell Physiology.  They reported that the benefit of aspirin might be due to its effect on blood cells called platelets, rather than acting directly on tumor cells.  Our blood platelets also increase the levels of a certain protein that may support cancer cells and help them to spread. This oncoprotein is called c-MYC.  Its function is to regulate the expression over 15% of all the genes of the human body. The c-MYC regulator controls the life-and-death cycle of cells, the synthesis of proteins and the cells’ metabolism. Research has shown that in human cancers, this oncogene is overexpressed.

This work suggests that the anti-cancer action of aspirin might be in part during their transit in the blood; circulating tumor cells interact with platelets, which spur tumor cell survival by activating oncoproteins such as c-MYC.  This inhibition of platelets with aspirin therapy reduces the signaling between platelets and tumor cells, thus reducing tumor cell growth.

Blood platelets can play a protective role for the early cancer cells and aid metastasis.  Aspirin appears to interfere with that process and c-MYC may explain part of that mechanism.

It is also noted by the researchers that almost 1/3 of colon cancer patients and 42% of patients with pancreatic cancer had overexpression of the c-MYC oncoprotein.  The impact that aspirin has on blood platelets is just as effective in high doses as it is at low ones. The clinicians can weigh the risks and benefits of aspirin intake as well as reduce the risk of bleeding, which is a common side effect of ingesting too much aspirin.  It is emphasized the crucial role of physicians and healthcare professionals when considering even a low-dose aspirin intake.

The interaction between platelets and cancer cells is believed to occur early and the use of anti-platelet doses of aspirin might serve as a safe and efficacious preventive measure for patients at risk for cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon

healthy foods

Low Carb Food Swaps

healthy foodsCarbohydrates are mainstay for lots of people who say they love all those comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, donuts, white rice and bread.  These sure aren’t the foods for someone who has healthy eating on the mind. These carbohydrates are just plain bad for you.

Not all carbs are the same though.  A lot of the good ones provide nutrition, containing things like protein, iron, fiber and B-vitamins.  Simple and complex are the two types of carbohydrates. A good way to separate them is simply substandard and sinful or sketchy.  Just remember to avoid them, as they contain a lot of sugar. The complex carbs are the ones that are commendable, constructive and correct.  

Kim Larson, a registered dietitian from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, says that when it comes to carbs, the simple ones are composed of short-chain carbon molecules that basically head straight for your bloodstream and spike your blood sugar.  The complex carbs have longer chains of carbon molecules and take longer for your body to break them down, so the sugar isn’t dumped into our bloodstream.

As we have all learned, not all carbs are created equally!  Seven nutritionists were asked to submit their favorite low-carb “swaps” for those who want to lower their carb intake without giving up the flavor.  Some of their submissions were:

  • Sweet potato “toast”.  Skip the bread, peel the sweet potato, slice it up and pop the slices in the toaster.  Then you can top it with a number of flavors just to suit your own taste. Be inventive!
  • Mashed turnips.  They contain just 2/3rds of the calories and you get lots of fiber. Wash, peel and steam, or bake them like squash or traditional potatoes.
  • Fava bean flour.  These are known as broad beans and come in a pod similar to green beans.  Mature ones are bitter, so remove the pod and release the beans inside to use in many recipes, including salads. An excellent source of folic acid.
  • Lettuce wraps.  This process has been done for many years in restaurants, so individuals can do the same at home.  Cut down on the white bread and use the lettuce. Collard greens, kale, chard and lettuce leaves are a nutritious way to cut those calories on sandwiches.
  • Applewich.  Replace that bread with apple slices by cutting an apple so you have two circular slices ¼ inch thick, and spread each slice with nut butter.  Top with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon or cherries and press them together.
  • Whipped Cauliflower.  Potatoes have 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar and 21 grams of carbs.  Steamed cauliflower has 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar and only 5 grams of carbs.  This yummy alternate to potatoes is the only option now for that mashed, buttery goodness.
  • Carrot “noodles”.  Carrot noodles work well as an alternative dish for a pasta substitute.  You get fewer carbs and the texture is crunchy.
  • Spaghetti Squash.  Another pasta option like this can cut carbs and provide you with potassium, folate and fiber.  Slice the squash length-wise, place with cut side up in baking dish with ½” of water. Salt and butter and bake for one hour at 350 degrees.
  • Broccoli “rice”.  Toss broccoli florets into the processor then steam or sauté with a little salt and butter.  This brings a good serving of fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin K to lessen your diabetes and heart disease risks.

Umm. Lets give it a try.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Jet_Lag

Jet Lag, Obesity & Pathways to Liver Cancer

Jet LagHepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, has nearly tripled since 1980, and obesity related liver disease is one of the driving forces behind the increasing number of cases.  Baylor College of Medicine researchers are now examining other lifestyle factors that may affect your health. By using mice, the scientists have shown that repeated jet lag increases both obesity related liver disease and the risk of liver cancer.  The Cancer Cell has published the study.

Liver cancer is rising worldwide and through human studies, we’ve seen that patients can progress from fatty liver disease to liver cancer without any middle steps such as cirrhosis, according to David Moore, a professor of molecular and cellular biology who led the study with Associate Professor Loning Fu, both at Baylor.  Studies in the Fu Lab found that chronically jet-lagged mice developed liver cancer in a very similar way as that described for obese humans.

Our bodies’ central circadian clock in the brain resets when we are exposed to light.  Traveling constantly through different time zones, working night shifts or pushing us to stay awake at the regular sleep time causes our central clock to be chronically disrupted.  This also extends to clocks in other tissues that are controlled by the central clock.

The researchers modeled the effects of chronic jet lag in normal mice who were fed a healthy diet by changing the times the lights went on and off during the night each week.  The mice gained weight and fat and developed fatty liver disease. This progressed to chronic inflammation and eventually to liver cancer in some of the cases.

Normal control of liver metabolism was lost on the jetlagged mice.  This included the buildup of fat and also increased production of bile acids, which are produced by the liver to help us digest our food.  Some studies linking high bile acid levels to liver cancer, in mice and humans, were done in earlier studies. Circadian clock disruption activated two nuclear receptors that help regulate liver bile acid metabolism.  A receptor called FXR, which keeps bile acid level in the liver within a normal physiological range in the jetlagged mice lacking the receptor, had higher bile acid levels and much more liver cancer. Those lacking a receptor called CAR, which regulates bile acid breakdown and known to promote liver cancer, did not get any liver tumors.

These receptors work in a similar manner in humans. The scientists did not directly study jetlag in humans, but there is evidence that sleep disruption increases both fatty liver disease and liver cancer risk in humans.

Studies show that more than 80% of the population in the U.S. adopts a lifestyle that leads to chronic disruption in their sleep schedules.  This has reached an epidemic level in other developed countries and coupled with the increase in obesity and liver cancer risk.

They hope to continue their research to further examine if drugs interacting with the nuclear receptors can help to prevent jet lag from affecting bile acid levels in the liver with a goal of using them as pharmaceutical strategies to prevent liver cancer in humans.

Bottom line results are that chronic jet lag was sufficient to induce liver cancer.  Results definitely show that chronic circadian disruption alone leads to malfunction of these receptors, so maintaining internal physiological homeostasis is very important for liver tumor suppression.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Hair

Healthy Hair Growth

It is best to avoid the toxic commercial shampoos and hair treatment products in promoting healthy hair and scalp.  Rely on what nature has supplied us, which is high quality burdock oil. Achieve those shiny locks and receive the other therapeutic effects.

This oil is also known as Bur oil and burdock root oil extract that is extracted from the leaves and root of the burdock plant that is native to Europe and has been naturalized in North America.  It has been used for centuries by various cultures, thus its various names. Burdock oil has been used in food and drinks, cosmetics and medicines.

The root is sometimes used as food and the seeds can be used to make a decoction to lower fevers, while all of the parts of the plan are used for medicinal purposes like joint problems, acne treatment and hair growth and scalp maintenance.  This product has also been marketed for hair loss, with products available in cosmetic stores that can be massaged onto your hair 3 times a week for maximum results. This will help to restore the function of your hair follicles and sebaceous glands to further protect against scalp dryness.  The oil is very popular in Japan for hair wellness and also for skin care.

Burdock oil has vitamin A and essential fatty acids that can help strengthen our hair by nourishing your scalp.  This is definitely something I need to try. The older I get, the less hair I have. It can also help with scalp infections and irritation caused by dandruff.  Mucilage, tannins, and inulin are also contained in the burdock plant that can provide beneficial action.

Any safety issues are rare, except for individuals specifically at risk such as causing an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive to certain flowers and herbs as ragweed, daisies, marigolds and others.  Those individuals with allergies, along with women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, should avoid using this oil. It might also increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery.

Your blood sugar may be reduced or increased by the use of burdock oil so diabetics should watch their levels and avoid using the oil.  It can also cause electrolyte imbalance and skin allergies. Consulting a natural holistic practitioner before using it, especially when doing so for therapeutic benefits, would be advised.  If you take an anticoagulant or medication that slows blood clotting, they will interact with burdock. Taking them might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Some of these drugs are aspirin, clopidogrel, diclofenac, ibuprofen and warfarin.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Facebook

Facebook Lurking

Facebook Lurking

Are you a lurker?  Well, every month about 1.65 billion people are actively using the social media site Facebook.  Each user is spending about 50 minutes using the site each day, which is really more time than you realize and more than on any other leisure activity except for TV watching.  On the average the U.S. American spends 19 minutes reading every day and only 17 minutes on exercise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes the nearly one hour spent on Facebook as significant and around the same amount of time you spend eating and drinking!  Of course this doesn’t take into account those people, specifically teens, that spend far more time and sometimes up to nine hours a day on social media.

This lurking will cause you to be inundated with photos and posts depicting other people’s seemingly perfect families and lives.  These can induce feelings of envy and lead to unrealistic social comparisons that can bring down your mood and level of well being, and even lead to depression.

Those using Facebook expect to feel better but, in fact, they actually feel worse.  If everyone expected that to happen, they’d probably stop using it. Part of this is due to a feeling of having wasted time, according to a Computers in Human Behavior study.  They report that Facebook activity is associated with a dampened mood. I personally do not spend time on Facebook for this very reason. It’s a waste of my time that could better be spent on something productive.

Frequent posting on Facebook has also been associated with increased rumination and the users were more at risk of depression if they displayed the following:

  • Felt envy after observing others
  • Accepted former partners as Facebook friends
  • Made negative social comparisons
  • Made frequent negative status updates

The researchers at the University of Houston explored Facebook’s emotional effects and found a link between usage of the site and symptoms of depression, which among men, was associated with the tendency to make social comparisons with others.  As it turned out in a second study, social comparison was significantly associated with depression symptoms in both men and women.

Nighttime use of social media is also linked to sleep problems, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression among the 12 to 18 year olds.  Those aged 19 to 32 were also significantly associated with disturbed sleep in a Preventive Medicine study. When melatonin is suppressed, there is less stimulation to promote sleepiness at a healthy bedtime.  

Facebook wants you to spend more time on their site and that it would become a platform that’s on all day to become basically a background for your life. They are busy cooking up ways to get us to spend even more time on their platform.  You must be aware for yourself and your children that using Facebook exposes you to a lot of advertising that is targeted to your habits and interest.

Facebook uses a sophisticated algorithm to track your interests, who you talk with, what you say, your age, gender, income level and a phenomenal number of other specifics that allow advertisers to target exactly who they believe will click on their ads.  Some are not harmless, like drug ads that can have more sinister effects.

Even though it is a wonderful platform for friends and family to socialize and share, it’s important to keep the use in perspective and use the sites that make you feel good and not worse after browsing.

Dr Fredda Branyon

E-cigarette

E-Cigarettes Harmful

E-Cigarettes Harmful

There was a surprising article written by Honor Whiteman that revealed the harm that e-cigarettes can have for our oral health.  They are marketed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, but when it comes to our oral health, new research suggests that vaping may be just as harmful as smoking.

An article was published in the journal Oncotarget revealing that researchers had found the chemicals present in electronic cigarette vapor were just as damaging, and in some cases even more damaging to the mouth cells, as tobacco smoke.  This can lead to an array of oral health problems that include gum disease, tooth loss and even mouth cancer.

The battery-operated e-cigarette devices contain a heating device and a cartridge that holds a liquid solution. The device vaporizes the liquid when the user “puffs” on the device resulting in vapor being inhaled.  E-cigarettes do not contain the highly harmful tobacco, a highly harmful component of conventional cigarettes, but they do contain nicotine and other chemicals, including flavoring agents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the e-cigarette usage has increased in recent years, especially among the young people.  About 16% of high-school students in 2015 reported using the devices where only 1.5% used the devices in 2011. There is little known about the long term effects of vaping on the health, but e-cigarettes are considered to be safer than conventional smoking by many.

The research team exposed gum tissue of nonsmokers to either tobacco or menthol-flavored e-cigarette vapor and found that tobacco-flavored vapor contained 16 milligrams of nicotine, while the menthol flavor contained 13-16 milligrams of nicotine or no nicotine.  All e-cigarette vapors caused damage to gum tissue cells comparable to that caused by exposure to tobacco smoke. When the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which is turn aggravate stress within cells and result in damage that could lead to various oral diseases.

Even though it is a fact that nicotine is a known contributor to gum disease, the e-cigarette flavoring appears to exacerbate the cell damage caused by e-cigarette vapor, with menthol-flavored vapor causing the most harm.  

Another study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology revealed a high rate of mouth cell death with exposure to e-cigarette vapor over just 3 days and killed 53% of mouth cells.  E-cigarette vapor was pumped into the chamber at a rate of two 5-second puffs every 60 seconds for 15 minutes a day and performed over 1, 2 or 3 days.  Upon analyzing the vapor-exposed epithelial cells under a microscope, the researchers identified a significant increase in the rate of cell damage and death.  It was found that with exposure to e-cigarette vapor, the number of dead or dying cells rose to 18%, 40% and 53% over 1, 2 and 3 days, respectively. This leads researchers to believe that their findings are a cause for concern as over the longer term, it may also increase the risk of cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon