Should You Get a Flu Shot?

Newspaper ads, television commercials and pharmacy marquees are all seemingly pointing us in one direction – get a flu shot, and do it today!

But is this really ironclad advice? To help answer this important question, let’s see what the very best research reveals about the effectiveness of the flu shot. In other words, whether it even works or not.

To answer this question, I visited two sources. First, WebMD described the flu vaccine as “reducing the odds of getting the flu by 70% to 90%.” Who wouldn’t be impressed by those statistics! Continue reading

Dangers of e-Cigarettes

The Hidden Dangers of E-Cigarettes

By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes, are a relatively new phenomenon, becoming increasingly popular over the last several years. A recent study by the CDC shows that from 2011 to 2013, the number of never-smoking youth who tried e-cigarettes tripled from around 79,000 to over 263,000.  E-cigarettes are marketed as a better alternative to traditional cigarettes, but as a new product, data regarding the health effects of these cigarette substitutes has taken time to catch up. However, recent analysis on the chemicals contained in the e-cigarette shows why it’s likely best to avoid the products entirely.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are loaded with a vaporizable liquid. This fluid is made up of a number of chemicals, among them propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine and a variety of flavoring substances. While these chemicals don’t sound entirely appealing, the new research shows that the real danger may be in how these compounds change when heated. Continue reading