As many of you know I have been dissing e-cigs all the time, on my radio show, in my column and when I lecture. But I may have gone too far. Many of my problems with e-cigs I still stand by – we don’t know what’s in them, there are 1,500 varieties, we do know that some manufactured in China have heavy metals, such as lead, a terrible contaminant, and they may be the gateway drug for young people to start smoking. These are all good reasons not to smoke e-cigs.
But what about the smoker who wants to quit. Will they help? Research funded by the National Science Foundation sheds some light. About 70 smokers who wanted to quit were randomly assigned to use e-cigs or not and followed to see what the quit rates were.
The e-cig users had a higher rate of quitting, or if they didn’t quit, they smoked fewer cigarettes. So for them they had benefit – fewer butts are not as good as no butts at all, but for those who are too addicted to quit, e-cigs might be their answer.
On the other hand, and this is a big one, research out of the University of California showed that nonsmoking teens who used e-cigs were more likely to start smoking. And if they tried snuff or tobacco water, it was even more likely that they would start to puff.
My Spin: Now we don’t know the long term effect of e-cigs, but we do know the long term effect of cigarettes – lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and early death. So although the only safe thing to breathe in is clean pure air, e-cigs for the hard to quit might be a viable answer. But when it comes to teens and young adults, starting e-cigs may be the gateway to smoking cigs. Never start. Never need to stop.
Dear Doc: A caller on your radio show asked you about “oil pulling” for teeth. You said you knew nothing about it. You made fun of the caller. You were awful.
You can be sure the American Dental Association will never approve of oil pulling, as they make money from filling cavities. Ka-ching, ka-ching. Money in their pockets.
I used to have periodontal disease. But since I tried oil pulling and eating cranberries every day, my gums stopped bleeding. You should respect your callers more and stop dishing stuff you are ignorant about. – K.F. from Texas
Dear K.F.: I apologize. I never mean to insult anyone who calls me on the air. Every caller should be respected. Mea culpa.
Now, on to oil pulling. Since that radio show, I’ve read about this ancient Indian Ayurvedic treatment for teeth. It involves swishing around a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. It’s supposed to draw toxins out of your body, improving oral health.
As for cranberries, we know good nutrition is an important part of good dental care. So keep up with those cranberries if it helps. But don’t forget to brush twice a day and floss because we know that works.
I do take umbrage with your assumption that dentists are motivated to give poor care so they can make more money. Come on. Do you really think they’re out to fleece the public? If that were the case, why would they embrace fluoride toothpaste, flossing and regular cleaning?
There might be some bad apples out there, but they are few and far between. In my opinionated opinion, you’re totally wrong. Stay well.
Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician and host of the public radio program “Zorba Paster on Your Health.”
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