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Teens Still Think Light Smoking is Safe

Many teens think that light or occasional smoking isn’t bad for them, according to an analysis of a nationwide youth survey.

“But they are wrong to think that lighter smoking is not very dangerous,” said lead author Stephen M. Amrock of the New York University School of Medicine. “Even the occasional cigarette truly is bad for you. Light and intermittent smokers face tremendous future health risks.” He says that decades of research have found that even light and intermittent smoking increases the risk of cancer and heart disease, the leading killers in this country.

Amrock and his coauthor, Dr. Michael Weitzman, evaluated survey answers from nearly 25,000 teens in grades six through 12
from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The participants were asked whether they thought a particular smoking pattern caused no harm, little harm, some harm, or a lot of harm. According to the authors’ report, which was published in Pediatrics, nearly 90 percent of the teens knew that heavy smoking, defined as smoking at least
10 cigarettes per day, is very harmful. However, only 64 percent knew that light smoking – having a few cigarettes per day –
is very harmful, and only 33 percent knew that intermittent smoking on some days but not every day is very harmful to health.

“Some ‘light’ smokers don’t even think of themselves as ‘smokers,’ despite the fact
that their tobacco use puts them at tremendous health risks down the line,” Amrock observed.

Addressing the misconception that light or intermittent smoking is safer or low risk is an important strategy for preventing kids from starting to smoke.

“It may also be easiest for these smokers to quit,” Amrock noted.

Napping – Helpful
or Harmful?

As kids, we did everything we could to avoid taking a nap. But as adults, there are days when we would do anything just to get one. The question is –do afternoon naps help or disturb sleep later on in
the night?

Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News explains that the body’s clock creates a feeling of sleepiness between 3am and 5am, as well as a milder feeling of fatigue in the afternoon. The longer you stay awake, the more likely you are to go into deeper stages of sleep when you finally lay down at night. Scientists think this is caused by a buildup of a neurotransmitter in the brain called adenosine, which increases with each waking hour. Taking a nap causes the brain to get rid of adenosine rapidly, so you may have a harder time falling asleep later on in the night.

On the other hand, there are some benefits to taking short naps during the day. Studies show that people who took midday naps performed up to20 percent better in memory exercises than those who didn’t. Researchers believe sleep may help clear out the hippocampus
the part of the brain responsible for
short-term memory – to make room for new information.

However, napping for too long can leave you feeling groggy, so it is best to keep your cat naps to about 20 minutes or less.

Weight Training Better Than Aerobics for Belly Fat

For those battling belly fat, weight training may be a better option than aerobic exercises like jogging and running, a new study suggests. The best choice, though, would be a combination of the two.

The study found that men who did
20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat than those who spent an equal amount of time doing aerobic activities, Harvard researchers reported.

While men who did aerobic exercise lost more weight than those who lifted, their waistlines still continued to expand. The study’s lead author, Rania Mekary, a researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health and an assistant professor at MCPHS University in Boston, explained that weight lifting adds muscle mass – something we naturally lose as we age – while aerobic exercise contributes to a loss of fat along with muscle mass.

Mekary and colleagues scrutinized the physical activity, waist circumference and body weight of 10,500 healthy American men, aged 40 and older, who had been participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1996 and 2008. Men’s waist sizes tend to increase as they age, and the men in the study showed an average 1.2-inch increase in their waists. The men who engaged in weight training for 20 minutes a day had a smaller increase than men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic exercises.

Mekary said that although the study was among men, the researchers suspect that the results are true for women, as well.