Teenage Smoking

Why do teenagers smoke?

Is it because it is “cool” to smoke? Is it because the idols of many teenagers – movie actors and actresses – smoke on screen? These are the questions asked in an editorial in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada.

But we do not know the answer. What we know is that if you are not addicted to tobacco by the age of 20, then it is less likely that addiction will start later. Hence, teens and pre-teens should be key groups for whom anti-smoking programs should be designed.

Do you think movies and television may have a significant role to play in this public-health problem? Well, next time you go to a movie or sit down to watch TV, think about it!

Do you think smoking protects against dementia?

Well, that is what some people think. But the British Medical Journal writes that Richard Doll, who has been studying the smoking habits of doctors since 1951, says that contrary to previous suggestions, persistent smoking does not substantially reduce the rate of Alzheimer’s disease or of dementia in general. If anything, it might increase rather than decrease the rate, but any net effect on severe dementia cannot be large in either direction.

Which Canadian province spends the most money on health care?

It’s not Alberta. Alberta has the 5th lowest expenditure at $2832 per person. Quebec has the lowest expenditure per capita among the provinces – $2453 per person in 1999. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Albertans continued to spend a lower proportion of their provincial gross domestic product on health in 1999 (7.6 percent) than citizens of any other jurisdiction on Canada.

Among the provinces, spending per person was highest in Ontario and British Columbia in 1997, at $2,746 and $2,728, respectively. The three Prairie provinces occupied third to fifth positions. The Atlantic provinces and Quebec occupied the lower half of the distribution.

Now that Bill 11 has gone through the Alberta legislature, does the government think that for-profit health delivery is cheaper than publicly funded health care?

An article in New England Journal of Medicine says that US healthcare spending in 1995 in for-profit markets resulted in $5.9billion in excess costs when compared with spending in not-for-profit markets. So private health is not cheap!

In the last column we discussed six important risk factors for cardio-vascular disease. Somebody was kind enough to remind me that I missed the seventh risk factor – diabetes.

Diabetes causes hardening of the blood vessels. When diabetes develops, the blood sugar level goes up because insulin (the substance which keeps blood sugar level under control) is in short supply.

Insulin is produced by pancreas. In diabetics, pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or our body does not respond to insulin as it should.

Warning signs of diabetes are many – drowsiness, excessive weight, easy fatigue, constant urination, family history of diabetes etc. Discuss these symptoms with your family doctor.

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