This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special
English. I'm Shirley Griffith.
I'm Steve Ember. This week, we will
present some new warnings about smoking and tobacco products.
For many years, scientists have warned us not to
smoke. The World Health Organization
says tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. Five million people die of causes linked to
tobacco use every year.
medical research has provided even more warnings. Advisers to America's Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention report that pneumococcal pneumonia threatens smokers
more than nonsmokers. The advisers say many
smokers will need a vaccine to help prevent the disease.
is the first time medical experts have suggested the vaccine for young and
middle-aged adult smokers. The Advisory
Committee on Immunization proposed that the vaccine be given to smokers ages
nineteen through sixty-four.
Past research showed that cigarette smokers are four
times more likely to get pneumococcal diseases than nonsmokers. For years, older adults and children under
two have been urged to get the vaccine.
So have people with serious health problems like diabetes and heart
disease. Others at risk are people with
low resistance to infection.
A C.D.C. official says it
is not known why smokers are more likely to get pneumococcal infections. One idea is that smoking damages protective
tissue in the back of the throat. As a
result, bacteria are more likely to connect to the smoker's windpipe and lungs.
The vaccine fights several kinds of
Streptococcus pneumoniae. The bacteria can
infect a person's brain, causing the disease meningitis. It also can affect the blood. Experts say up to twenty percent of people
with pneumococcal blood infections die, even when treated.
experts say smoking even one cigarette a day can increase the threat of
pneumococcal pneumonia by one hundred percent.
The more cigarettes a person smokes, the greater the threat of the
disease. Health officials say smokers should
do more than get the pneumococcal vaccine.
They urge people to stop smoking.
also can affect your hearing. That warning
resulted from a study reported earlier this year by the International Society of
Audiology Congress in Hong Kong. The
study was said to be one of the largest ever carried out about hearing loss. The results were published in Springer's
"Journal of the Association for Research in Audiology."
report says hearing loss is not just a natural result of the aging
process. The major cause is noise. But the report says smoking and being
over-weight aid the development of hearing loss.
Four thousand eighty-three people took part in the
study. They were fifty-three to
sixty-seven years old. They answered
questions about their medical history and their contact with possible
environmental threats. They also took
considered the possibility of the links between the possible threats and hearing
loss. The researchers found a close
connection between smoking and hearing loss.
smokers use tobacco products while eating or drinking alcohol in public. The American state of Massachusetts banned
smoking in almost all restaurants and workplaces four years ago.
study found that the state had five hundred seventy-seven fewer heart attack
deaths each year since the ban became law.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Harvard School of
Public Health organized the study. The
findings may strengthen evidence for workplace smoking bans.
World Health Organization says one billion three hundred million people still
smoke worldwide – even after all the warnings.
W.H.O. officials say eighty-four percent of all smokers live in
developing countries. At the same time,
smoking in the United States and Europe has decreased.
People who smoke also harm non-smokers. The American Cancer Society says this kind of
secondhand smoke causes lung infections in as many as three hundred thousand
young children each year.
Expectant mothers who smoke are more likely to have
babies with health problems and low birth weight. Such babies may suffer health problems as
smokers are also at risk. A study in the
publication "Neurology" showed that older adults who smoke face an increased
risk of Alzheimer's disease. Decreased
mental health also was more likely in persons who smoked than in non-smokers. After a time Alzheimer's, patients lose the ability
to think, plan and organize.
people know that smoking causes lung cancer.
But it also has been shown to be a major cause of cancers of the mouth,
esophagus, kidney, bladder and pancreas.
Cigarettes are not the only danger.
Smokeless tobacco and cigars also have been linked to cancer. But these facts are not enough to prevent
people from smoking.
American Cancer Society says there is no safe way to smoke. The group has warned that smoking begins to
cause damage immediately. All cigarettes
can damage the body. Smoking even a few
cigarettes is dangerous.
is a substance in tobacco that gives pleasure to smokers. Nicotine is a poison. The American Cancer Society says nicotine can
kill a person when taken in large amounts.
It does this by stopping the muscles used for breathing.
The body grows to depend on nicotine. When a former smoker smokes a cigarette, the
nicotine reaction may start again. This
forces the person to keep smoking.
have found that nicotine can be as difficult to resist as alcohol or the drug
cocaine. So experts say it is better
never to start smoking than it is to smoke with the idea of stopping later.
say menthol cigarettes are no safer than other tobacco products. Menthol cigarettes produce a cool feeling in
the smoker's throat.
means that people may hold the smoke in their lungs longer than smokers of
other products. As a result, scientists
suspect that menthol cigarettes may be even more dangerous than other
smokers believe that cigarettes with low tar levels are safer. Tar is a substance produced when tobacco
leaves are burned. It is known to cause
America's National Cancer Institute has
said that people who smoke low-tar cigarettes do not reduce their risk of
getting diseases linked to smoking.
Scientists found no evidence of public health improvements from changes
in cigarette design and production in the past fifty years.
Is there no way to smoke without harming your health?
The American Cancer Society does not think so. The group wants people to stop, or at least
this reason it organizes the Great American Smokeout every year. The
event takes place in November. Local
volunteers support the efforts of individuals who want to stop smoking.
American Cancer Society says blood pressure returns to normal twenty minutes
after the last cigarette. Carbon
monoxide levels in the blood return to normal after eight hours. The chance of heart attack decreases after
one day. After one year, the risk of
heart disease for a non-smoker is half that of a smoker.
are products designed to help people reduce their dependence on
cigarettes. Several kinds of nicotine replacement
products provide small amounts of the chemical.
These can help people stop smoking.
Experts also say a drug used to
treat depression has helped smokers. The
drug is called Zyban. It does not
contain nicotine. It works by increasing
levels of dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a chemical that produces pleasure.
Here is some advice from people who have stopped
smoking: Stay away from alcohol. Take a walk instead of smoking a
cigarette. Avoid people who are
smoking. If possible, stay away from
situations that trouble you.
It is not easy to
stop. And people never can completely
control their own health. But as one
doctor advises her patients, becoming a non-smoker is one way to gain control
of your life.
SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by Jerilyn Watson. Brianna Blake was our
producer. I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Shirley Griffith. Read and listen to our
programs at voaspecialenglish.com. Join
us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice