Monthly Archives: August 2016

The reason of brain cancer connection

There is no link between long-term use of cell phones and increased risk of brain tumors – at least according to research just published in the British journal BMJ. In what is being described as the “biggest ever” study on the subject, scientists in Denmark reviewed data on the entire Danish population age 30 and older and born in the country after 1925, which included nearly 360,000 cell phone users, over an 18-year period. After comparing rates of cancer of the brain and central nervous system between long-term cell phone users and non-users, they found no evidence of increased cancer risk, even among people who had been using their phones for more than 13 years.

The results are certainly reassuring, but are they right?

The Debate Over Cell Phones and Cancer

This new study is just the latest loop in the cell phone-cancer roller coaster: Previous research on the subject is extensive – and conflicting. In 2006, for example, Swedish scientists announced that an hour of daily cell phone use over the course of a decade could increase a person’s risk for developing brain cancer by as much as 240 percent. But earlier that same year, British researchers who collected data on cell phone users found no such link – to any type of cancer.

That’s just one example of the mixed messages we’re getting from cell phone-cancer research. In the last nine months alone, there have been at least five studies or reports related to the effects of cell radiation on brain tumor growth, each contradicting or complicating the results of a study that came before.

In February, British researchers at the University of Manchester released data that found that mobile phones were not likely to increase the risk of brain tumors, as there had been no significant change in the number of cancer cases diagnosed since cell phones were introduced. Four days later, scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that brain activity was higher in the areas closest to a phone’s antenna, although whether the effect was good or bad was unclear.

Then, in May, a World Health Organization (WHO) panel officially classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic” – the same category that includes the pesticide DDT and gasoline engine exhaust. That announcement was followed by a June report in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which suggested that people who used their phones often and for 10 years or more were at higher risk for developing gliomas (a type of brain tumor). But a month later, in July, Swiss researchers released results of a study that found that cell phone use did not pose a cancer threat to children, who are generally thought to be most at risk.

Confused? You’re not alone.

Cell Phones and Cancer: Should You Be Concerned?

The fact is, even experts can’t seem to come to any definitive conclusions. In each of the aforementioned studies, the authors noted that although their results were accurate, their conclusions were not likely to end the debate over whether cell phones cause brain tumors. In fact, the only thing everyone can agree on is that more research is needed. “[The results] must be put into the context of the 15 or so previous studies on mobile telephones and cancer,” Anders Alhbom, PhD, and Maria Feychting, PhD, MD, professors at the Institute of Environmental Medicine in Sweden, write in an accompanying editorial for the latest Danish study. “Evidence is reassuring, but continued monitoring of health registers is still warranted.”

“You have to look at a wide range of patients and people,” says Rahul Jandial, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. “When you’re looking at statistics, you don’t always find conclusive results right away.” Complicating matters, he adds, is the fact that a lot of these studies are looking at different types of tumors (not just cancerous growths in the brain), so results are bound to be mixed. His personal belief, however, is that cell phones are safe – an idea which he says science seems increasingly to support.

Really Do Get People Salivating

Move over, gourmet meal. Apparently cold hard cash and a shiny new sports car are drool-worthy, too.

That’s the conclusion of new research that examined how people react when faced with the prospect of non-edible consumption.

The bottom-line: people salivate when they desire material objects, according to the study, published online recently in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Merely being exposed to the concept of money has been shown to have dramatic effects on behavior, and it has even been argued that money can be conceptualized as a drug,” doing much the same thing as other stimulants in driving human behavior, noted study author David Gal of Northwestern University in a journal press release.

In fact, “in multiple languages, the terms hunger and salivation are used metaphorically to describe desire for non-food items,” he noted.

In the study, Gal first had study participants view photos of money while holding cotton dental rolls in their mouths. While gazing, some of the participants were instructed to “feel” powerful, while others were told to believe that they lacked power.

The result: by weighing the rolls to measure saliva Gal found that only those who perceived themselves as being in a low-power situation had a mouth-watering reaction to money.

“This suggests that people salivate to non-food items when those items are desired to fulfill a highly active goal,” he suggested.

Romance may be another prime motivator in drooling after expensive goods, the study found.

In a second experiment, Gal confronted a group of men with photos of high-end cars. However, before looking at the cars, some of the men were first shown photos of beautiful women and told to ponder one they would like to date. Others were simply told to think about getting a haircut.

Have a Lip Balm Addiction

lip balm is a fall and winter rite of passage with which many of us are all too familiar. With cold weather comes dry, chapped lips, making that little tube or pot a seasonal staple, whether it’s a newer brand or an old standby like ChapStick (invented in the 1880s) or Carmex (manufactured since 1936). In fact, in 2010, Americans spent about $417 million on lip care (including balms and cold-soreproducts), according to market research firm SymphonyIRI.

But could a lip balm addiction really be driving these blockbuster sales numbers? Many people swear they need to slather their lips with balm many times a day. Referring to themselves as lip balm addicts, these “junkies” gather on Facebook in groups with names like “I forgot my lip balm, my life is over!” There’s even a Web site devoted to helping people break their dependency on balm, called (what else?) Started in 1995 by “Kevin C.,” a self-described “suffering ChapStick addict,” the site offers tongue-in-cheek information and guidance based on the classic 12-step model of addiction therapy. There’s even a self-evaluation with questions like “Do you feel depressed, guilty, or remorseful after you use lip balm?”

So what’s the real story about lip balm addiction? “The truth is that you cannot get addicted to lip balm in the same way you can get addicted to drugs like alcohol or nicotine,” says Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist and author of the book Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?

There’s no denying, though, that people feel they can’t do without the stuff, and here’s why: Because your lips have no oil glands, they tend to dry out very easily. As a result, people slather on balm to relieve the dryness, which “makes them feel immediately better,” Romanowski says. But the balm can actually slow down your lips’ production of fresh new skin cells. “So when the lip balm wears off, as it inevitably does, your lips will feel more dry.”

What’s more, some common ingredients found in lip balms (like menthol and salicylic acid) may irritate your lips, leading you to re-apply in an attempt to soothe the irritation. Repeated often enough, this dryness-balm-more dryness cycle becomes a habit, which some describe as a psychological “addiction.” Romanowski notes, “It’s similar to someone biting their nails.”

But the conspiracy theories still linger. In fact, the rumors that lip balm manufacturers put certain ingredients in their wares in a sinister attempt to get people hooked are so pervasive that Carmex and ChapStick even address the issues on their official Web sites. Romanowski says there’s no truth to this, either. There are no physically addictive substances in balms. So if you think you’re addicted to lip balm, you’ve just got a bad habit.

If you want to wean yourself off lip balm, try these other tips from the American Academy of Dermatology to keep chapped, dry lips at bay this winter:

  • Use a humidifier to keep the air moist in your home.
  • Avoid licking your lips.
  • On cold, blustery winter days, cover your mouth with a scarf or face mask.

And if you’re not willing to part with your trusty ChapStick, don’t worry, says Romanowski: “Having a ‘lip balm addiction’ may be annoying, but it isn’t harmful.”