The Global Fool

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E-Cigarettes and Vaping May Cause Lung Damage and Impaired Immune Responses
Feb14

E-Cigarettes and Vaping May Cause Lung Damage and Impaired Immune Responses

By Roberta Attanasio A few months ago, Oxford Dictionaries announced “vape” as its international Word of the Year 2014 – language research conducted by their editors revealed that its use in 2014 had more than doubled compared to 2013 (and increased by 30-fold since 2012), mostly because of the rapidly growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and the expanding debate over their safety. Although e-cigarettes are portrayed as devices that can help adult smokers quit while providing a safe alternative to tobacco smoking, mounting evidence shows that these devices may cause considerable harm. Indeed, about two weeks ago, California health officials said that e-cigarettes represent a rising public-health risk that threaten to unravel progress made on tobacco by “re-normalizing smoking behavior” and luring a new generation into nicotine addiction. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are tobacco-free and vaporize liquid (also called e-liquid or e-juice) that contains nicotine, producing “faux” smoke or vapor. Because they don’t burn anything, e-cigarettes don’t release any smoke – therefore, users don’t “smoke”, they “vape.” In addition to nicotine, the e-juice typically contains vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and flavorings. There are several types of e-juices, each containing different flavorings – these flavorings make “vaping” especially appealing to young smokers who would not normally try tobacco. While nicotine addiction caused by vaping in young smokers is clearly a major public health issue, there are also public health concerns associated with toxic substances released by e-cigarette vapors. Indeed, e-cigarettes may likely become a toxic replacement for tobacco products. Results from a recent study (published in the scientific journal PLOSone) show that emissions from e-cigarettes damage lung cells. The damage is mostly caused by inflammatory responses and oxidative stress, which are known to represent key events in the development of chronic airway diseases. Some flavored e-juices – particularly those containing cinnamon – are more toxic than others. Irfan Rahman, lead author of the study, said in a press release: “Several leading medical groups, organizations, and scientists are concerned about the lack of restrictions and regulations for e-cigarettes. Our research affirms that e-cigarettes may pose significant health risks and should be investigated further. It seems that every day a new e-cigarette product is launched without knowing the harmful health effects of these products.” Results from an additional study recently published in the same journal confirm that vaping may cause potential deleterious health effects. Using a mouse model, the researchers showed that e-cigarettes compromise the immune system in the lungs and generate some of the same potentially dangerous chemicals found in traditional nicotine cigarettes. Thomas Sussan, lead author of this study, said in a press release: “E-cigarette vapor alone produced mild effects...

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Paradoxical Thinking May Lead to Conflict Resolution
Aug04

Paradoxical Thinking May Lead to Conflict Resolution

By Roberta Attanasio Agreeing with people might be the best way for leading them to reconsider their beliefs. A team of scientists from Israel has recently shown that such a strategy may promote long-term conflict resolution — the study included 161 Jewish-Israeli participants, was based on the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, and was carried out in collaboration with The Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Peace (an American nongovernment organization). According to the scientists, the Fund “felt that the Israeli–Palestinian peace process was at a dead-end, that both societies were dominated by deep despair, and that there was a need for a new psychological intervention to change the reality”. Thus, the Fund asked the team of scientists to develop an innovative strategy to mobilize public opinion for peace. The strategy used by the researchers is called “paradoxical thinking” — individuals receive information that is consistent with their current beliefs but presented in a way that makes the beliefs appear extreme or irrational. A paradox is something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible. For an almost complete list of paradoxes, you can head here. One of the most known paradoxes is the Catch-22 — a situation in which someone is in need of something that can only be had by not being in need of it. Another one is the Barber Paradox —  a barber (who is a man) shaves all and only those men who do not shave themselves. Does he shave himself? Tony Fang, in his book Chinese Business Negotiating Style, provides an excellent example of a paradox: Western negotiators often complain about Chinese negotiators being very deceptive and very sincere at the same time.  An interesting study published a few years ago shows that the adoption of paradoxical frames — mental templates that encourage individuals to recognize and embrace contradictions — increases creativity. Paradoxical intervention can help people overcome problems using similar templates. Let’s see how paradoxical intervention was used in the study based on the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians (Paradoxical thinking as a new avenue of intervention to promote peace, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on July 29, 2014). The scientists constructed video clips resembling commercials used in political campaigns. According to the scientists, “These clips emphasized how Israeli Jews — who traditionally perceive themselves as striving for peace and viewing the conflict as necessary, despite its negative consequences — construe their identity primarily on their experiences of the conflict.” Each video focused on one core Israeli identity theme — including justice, morality, and unity. The videos ended by arguing that Jewish Israelis cannot afford to terminate the...

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