Monthly Archives: September, 2012

Forget the Sleeping Pills..They Make You Forget!

Many people resort to sleeping pills to ensure a good night’s sleep. In fact, some doctors do prescribe it over the short-term. However, used over the long-term, many are aware of the danger of habituation or dependence on these pills..where patients become “addicted”to them.

Now,new evidence confirms the other main danger of long-term usage of these sleeping pills, commonly benzodiazepines (which include Xanax, Valium, Rivotril, Rohypnol, Ativan, Dormicum,Mogadon..see the full list here).

Patients over the age of 65 who start taking benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, have a 50% increased chance of developing dementia within 15 years compared with people who had never used the drug. Dementia is a group of symptoms caused by gradual death of brain cells –  the loss of cognitive abilities that occurs with dementia leads to impairments in memory, reasoning, planning, and behavior. Memory loss usually is the first symptom noticed. It may begin with misplacing valuables such as a wallet or car keys, then progress to forgetting appointments and then to more substantive omissions such as forgetting where the car was parked or the route home. More profound losses follow, such as forgetting the names and faces of family members.

The study, which was released by the British Medical Journal yesterday (see here) highlights the importance of the judicious use of sleeping and anti-anxiety pills, particularly among the elderly. While the emphasis is on the older population, this should serve as a warning to the younger groups that loss of memory, although due to a myriad of causes, may be due to the abuse of sleeping pills.

It has been reported that midazolam can cause temporary amnesia even when used on the short-term.

 

 

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Does Increasing Taxes Reduce Smoking?

In recent months, there has been a renewed initiative by most governments to make it costlier to light up a cigarette. In Australia, not only has excise duties increased, cigarettes can only be sold at designated areas and, since December 2011, they have to come in plain packaging, forcing all cigarette manufacturers to present their goods in khaki boxes with shrunken logos and a graphic health message.

The argument whether increasing taxes do significantly reduce the incidence of smoking has been with us for ages. Some have not been convinced, but irrefutable data has just been released  which showed that in the US, when President Obama signed the tax hike — the biggest to take effect in his first term — on his 16th day in office, reversing two vetoes by the previous President Bush (causing the federal cigarette tax to jump from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack on April 1, 2009) the net result was, as reported by USA Today, a historic drop in smoking, especially among teens, poor people and those dependent on government health insurance.

Most impressively, about 3 million fewer people smoked last year than in 2009, despite a larger population, according to surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These data are most certainly going to spur more countries to implement this form of social engineering via taxation, what with the economic recession resulting in declining revenues for the tax-man.

Counterfeits and black-markets account for one-quarter of cigarette sales in the UK,Australia and Malaysia

However, while most of us acknowledge the health hazards of smoking, increasing taxes may lead to newer problems. Increased smuggling, tax evasion, counterfeiting are challenges that law enforcement agencies have to handle effectively so that the ultimate objective is achieved. The tendency for smokers to downgrade to cigars (not necessarily more cost-efficient!) or cheaper brands will not reduce the incidence of smoking. Hence the necessity of concurrent health education campaigns.

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The last-mentioned is an often under-estimated weapon, particularly when the stand of most cigarette companies is “We don’t build our business on persuading people to smoke or trying to stop people from quitting. We believe that if you want to quit, you should.”

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