Monday, August 15, 2011

American Lung Association continues to misrepresent smokeless risks

The ALA posted an article titled "Is There an Easy Way to Quit?" on it's web site today, which is filled with typically deceptive ANTZ tactics.

Making statements such as  smokeless tobacco has "28 cancer-causing agents" and "increases the risk of developing cancer" and that e-cigarettes contain "cancer-causing agents and toxic chemicals" found in anti-freeze is not only leaving out key information, it relies upon questionable "science" and sensationalism to deceive the reader.
Smokeless Tobacco
Smokeless tobacco includes chewing tobacco, snuff, snus and some other new products. Some people think that using smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to smoking but that’s not the case. Smokeless tobacco has 28 cancer-causing agents and it increases the risk of developing cancer in the mouth, gums, and pancreas. The amount of nicotine that is absorbed from smokeless tobacco is 3 to 4 times the amount delivered by a cigarette.

The key information left out here is that many products we consume contain "cancer-causing agents." The question is, "How much?" Hot dogs can contain "cancer-causing agents." Whole milk can contain "cancer causing agents." Potato chips and french fries can contain "cancer-causing agents."

Yet we consider these foods to be "safe," because although the "agents" are present, the risk of actually getting cancer from them is extremely low.

While there is a "risk" of developing cancer in the mouth and gums from some smokeless tobacco, the risk is extremely small - somewhere between 0% to 4% - and smokeless snus studies have not shown any increased risk of oral or other cancers. The very few studies linking smokeless tobacco to a very low risk of pancreatic cancer have contradicted themselves, so the link remains inconclusive as to whether or not there is an actual risk at all.

Yet the ALA reports these as established facts and make it sound as though the health risks are great.

Once again the ALA has ignored scientific evidence and used inflammatory language to make something sound worse than it is by reporting the statement made by the FDA rather than the scientific evidence from the actual FDA testing.
There is no scientific evidence establishing the safety of e-cigarettes. The FDA has found that these products contain cancer-causing agents and toxic chemicals, including the ingredients found in anti-freeze. While some distributors directly or indirectly market e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates these products are safe or effective at helping smokers quit.

By this time, anyone who has bothered to read the actual FDA test results knows the truth vs. the spin put out by the FDA. The "cancer-causing agents" discovered in the e-cigarette cartridges tested were found in only one out of the 18 tested, were not found in the actual vapor that is inhaled and were at levels so low they were comparable to the levels of "cancer-causing agents" found in the FDA-approved nicotine patch.

Yet the ALA reports this as though e-cigarettes have been proven to cause cancer and hides the fact that the same levels of "cancer-causing agents" are found in the nicotine patch - which they endorse.

The inflammatory language used to describe the non-toxic amount of diethylene glycol detected (again in just one cartridge and not in the vapor) as "ingredients found in anti-freeze" is pure sensationalism. Diethylene glycol is also found in other FDA-approved products at non-toxic levels. Because the amount found in the one e-cigarette cartridge is so small and not in the actual vapor to which the user is exposed, the user would have to drink the contents of a few thousand cartridges per day in order to reach toxic levels.

Yet the ALA reports the presence of "ingredients found in anti-freeze" as though e-cigarettes have been shown to be just as poisonous as anti-freeze.

So let's see why using the products and methods endorsed by the ALA isn’t a good way to quit:
Nicotine Replacement Products (NRT)
NRTs includes nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges and nicotine inhalers. Some people think that using NRT is a safe alternative to smoking but that’s not the case. NRT has cancer-causing agents and it increases the risk of developing oral cancer. The amount of nicotine that is absorbed from NRT is much lower than the amount delivered by a cigarette, which may contribute to a failure rate as high as 95%, greatly increasing the risk of relapse to deadly smoking. Nicotine is highly addictive and because these nicotine products are available over the counter to both adults and youth, they are easily abused, contributing to sustained addiction rather than cessation.

Chantix (Varenicline)
There is no scientific evidence establishing the long-term safety or effectiveness of varenicline. The FDA did not review varenicline for the usual 10 month period and it had not been tested in those under 18 years; those with mental illness or pregnant women and therefore is not recommended for use by these groups. The FDA has received reports of "suicidal acts and ideation, psychosis, and hostility or aggression, including homicidal ideation, were the most prominent psychiatric side effects. Multiple reports suggested that varenicline may be related to the loss of glycemic control and new onset of diabetes, heart rhythm disturbances, skin reactions, vision disturbances, seizures, abnormal muscle spasms and other movement disorders."

While some claim varenicline is "safe and effective," only 4.3% more smokers had still quit after one year compared with placebo and over 200 deaths have been linked to varenicline since its release to the public. France's government health insurance no longer subsidizes varenicline prescriptions due to questions about its safety. Canada and Australia have received more than 1,800 reports of adverse events related to varenicline as of May 2010. The number of adverse events associated with varenicline outnumber any other medication monitored by ISMP and more than twice as many deaths have been linked to varenicline than with any other medication currently on the U.S. market.

Really, American Lung Association? Compare all of that to zero reports of serious adverse events linked to e-cigarette use since they were introduced to Europe in 2004 and the U.S. in 2006.

The ALA claims that "Becoming smokefree is anything but simple, yet some folks will try almost anything that promises to a quicker, easier way to quit smoking. You can’t wave a magic wand and suddenly be done with the process of quitting." Yet millions of smokers world-wide, most of whom have tried and failed with the ALA's "safe and effective" methods, are calling e-cigarettes a "miracle" and the "easiest" method they've ever used to remain smoke-free. Sweden, where smokeless snus use is most common, boasts the lowest smoking rates in the E.U. without increased adverse health effects vs. never-smokers.

Any "fact" can be spun to appear to support an agenda. The difference is whether or not the "facts" are based on scientific evidence or if they are based upon junk science and made to sound reliable. Can you tell the difference?

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