News, views and insights on maintaining a healthy edge.

Coughing Up More for Cigarettes

Getting adults to quit smoking sometimes seems like an uphill battle. But keeping kids from starting is a little easier. Study after study—many dozens, in fact—agree that the more cigarettes cost, the less likely young people are to start smoking. That is one of the main reasons the Centers for Disease Control is backing President Obama’s recent proposal to raise the federal tobacco tax by almost 100%.  CDC Director Tom Frieden estimates that this alone would result in 230,000 fewer people taking up the habit as teens. An additional benefit would be a reduction in heavy smokers. A 2012 study by Tobacco Control magazine found that people who smoke two packs a day were very likely to cut back with a steep rise in prices.

60 is the New…75?

We may be living longer than our ancestors, but are we healthier? A new study in the Netherlands suggests we are not. Researchers looked at the prevalence of risk factors for stroke, heart disease and diabetes—including obesity and high blood pressure—and found that today’s adults are “15 years older” than their parents and grandparents at the same stage of life. The reason we live longer is probably because fewer of us smoke, and treatments for common diseases are better. The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, followed 15,000 adults between 20 and 59 for a period of 16 years.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Who takes it harder when a relationship goes south? A study by Wake Forest University claims that young men do. Despite being portrayed as aloof and insensitive in romantic relationships, they appear to be more emotionally involved than their female counterparts. Researchers found that young women derived a greater benefit from being part of a couple. However, their male counterparts were more likely than women to be harmed emotionally when a relationship hit the rocks. “This finding makes a lot of sense and is extremely logical,” says Dr. Rodger Goddard, Director of Wellness Management Services at Trinitas. “Women are socialized to share and express their emotions and stress with others. When men get together, however, young and old, they tend to talk about sports, politics and other things that are external to them. They often save their emotions and intimacy for their love relationships. It therefore makes sense that, when they lose the person they love, they are more devastated emotionally than women are…because now they are without an outlet for their emotional side.”

The One Percent Solution

Every week it seems we hear about another initiative to get teens to eat healthier. And yet our eyes tell us that teens are eating more junk than ever. Well, our eyes don’t lie. The University of Oklahoma’s School of Public Health just released data from a five-year study that shows 4 in 5 teens are eating their way toward heart disease. Even worse, only 1 in 100 teens is eating an “ideal” diet from a heart-health perspective. The American Heart Association, which published the report, characterized the numbers as unacceptably high and called for broad social and cultural changes as the only way to avoid a national catastrophe by the time today’s teens reach middle age. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” observes

Kevin Lukenda, DO Chairman, Family Medicine

Kevin Lukenda, DO, Chairman of the Family Medicine Department at Trinitas. “Parents need to show their teens and ’tweens how to eat healthy, by example. Also, fewer video games and more outside activity will keep the heart healthy.”

Bipolar Breakthrough

In the last issue of EDGE, Chris Gibbs wrote about the advances in medicine triggered by the Human Genome Project. One of the newest advances may benefit people suffering from bipolar disorder. Researchers at University in College in London found that a small percentage of these patients had a mutation in a brain receptor gene that put them at greater risk for bipolar disorder. The findings, published in JAMA Psychology, suggest that these individuals can be effectively treated with existing drugs that are not currently used for bipolar disorder. Indeed, two drugs trialed for anxiety disorder and schizophrenia should be effective on 1.7% of bipolar patients. It’s not a huge number, of course, but to that 1.7% it could mean the world. While genetic research holds tremendous promise,

Anwar Y. Ghali, MD Chairman, Psychiatry

Dr. Anwar Y. Ghali, Chairman of Psychiatry at Trinitas, cautions that the medications approved by the FDA—including mood stabilizers and second-generation anti-psychotics—are still the most effective means of treating bipolar disorder. “In addition,” he says, “psychotherapy is indicated for better adjustment and coping with the disease, as well helping to reduce future relapses.”