AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: cigarettes

Are E-Cigarettes Worth the Hype???

In America, electronic cigarettes are all the rage as they come in a wide range of flavors and intricate and discreet devices. Yes, they are less harmful than regular cigarettes but do they have the ability to make the users quit smoking altogether? This is the question that the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina aimed to answer.

In this study, 68 smokers were evaluated over four months. 46 were randomly selected to use different e-cigarettes however they wished and the other 22 were in a control group where they could only use the e-cigarette as instructed. All were either given a device with low amounts of nicotine or high amounts (like the one pictured above). After the four months and the study was complete, the results were as expected.

Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the 46 smokers who could freely use the e-cigarettes had a seemingly positive response to them. With  high frequent usage, the majority purchased their own electronic cigarettes and ditched the regular traditional cigarettes they used to smoke. They also were more likely to quit smoking overall compared to those in the control group. Additionally in the control group, since the smokers were confined to only to using the e-cigs when instructed, it only increased their urge to go back to non-electronic cigarettes. Also stated in the article, “Of the two e-cigarette models used in the study, the more powerful device, with a higher dose of nicotine, showed stronger outcomes. People using e-cigarettes throughout the study smoked an average of 37 percent fewer cigarettes, showing a positive effect when making the switch and potentially serving as a tool to help smokers quit.” This shows that e-cigs can make a difference, especially with a higher amount of nicotine. Lead researcher Matthew Carpenter was happy with the positive response and people who switched to e-cigs since smoking traditional cigarettes is the leading cause of cancer.

Don’t get it twisted, electronic cigarettes are still harmful!!!  Yes they are safer than the conventional cigarette but they still expose the lungs and body to harmful toxins and chemicals that we all know should not be there. Especially with the variety of flavors, sizes, and customizable appearances of these devices (pictured below), they are now made specifically to target adolescents. Big companies create a product crafted to draw more and more adolescents in, with the sole purpose of making money at the expense of the consumer’s health. Terrible! So ask yourself, will you fall for it? (DON’T!!!)

Wait… Smoking is bad for you???

Thinking back, it’s pretty hard to believe that at one point most people thought smoking was good for you. Up until about 60 years ago, advertisements preached that smoking cigarettes was not only the cool thing to do, but was also in some ways beneficial for your health.


Cigarette ads used doctors and scientists to preach that smoking helped alleviate social anxiety, dry mouth, colds, and headaches. Although in some cases the menthol used in many cigarettes did have a positive effect on cold symptoms, in many cases the ill symptoms were caused by smoking withdrawal itself. (i.e. social anxiety and headaches)

To much of 1940’s doctors’ demise, enumerable amounts of studies have come out proving that smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer, gum cancer, tongue cancer, throat cancer, and most of all emphysema. Now, the tobacco is not always the cause of all these diseases; all the other fun chemicals that the cigarette companies put in the cigs to “enhance the experience” and help them burn faster, are the culprits. Just a few of the chemicals in modern cigarettes are as follows:

Acetone = commonly found in nail polish and many paint removers

Ammonia = highly toxic; usually found in household cleaners

Arsenic = found most in rat poisons

Butane = found in lighter fluid (helps cigarette to burn faster)

Cadmium = component of battery acid

Carbon Monoxide = found in car exhaust fumes

Formaldehyde = embalming fluid (used to preserve dead bodies)

Need I go on? Okay!

Lead = decreases function and activity of the nervous system (brain, spine, etc.)

Methanol = main component of rocket fuel

Nicotine = main component of insecticide but has a very addicting side-effect

Tar = used for paving roads

Toluene = found in dynamite (TNT = Tri-Nitro Toluene)


It is obvious to me why cigarette companies have stopped running their ads that depict doctors, scientists, teachers and other professions often lauded as some of the most intelligent in society, smoking and promoting cigarettes. Even so, what troubles me, is how 17% of America’s population still chooses to smoke. With 8% of that 17% being teenagers, the number of smokers has steadily declined over the years, but not at a rate rapid enough. The common sense that goes behind just not smoking is maddening to those who watch smokers constantly spending $15 (NY) per pack.

PS: Up until 1978, Camel Cigarettes actually contained minute particles of camel. The company used the fat because it burned very quickly, was odorless, and gave the cigarette a more mild taste.

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We All Owe Mice a “thank you”

Recently in our AP Biology class, we read about advances in stem cell research. Important developments began with experiments involving mice. The scientists were able to generate induced pluripotent stem cells from mouse fibroblasts and were later able to generate iPS cells from human fibroblasts . The research as been extremely helpful and scientists were able to learn a lot through the mice cells. It turns out mice are useful for many other avenues of medical research.

Mice have become a critical tool in the quest for new drugs and medical treatments because their genes are remarkably similar to a person’s”. Mice affected with various human ailments, such as “obesity, diabetes, cancer and countless other conditions are being used to study both the illnesses themselves and potential treatments”.

photo from WikimediaCommons









The latest “mouse sacrifice” for society involves cigarette smoke. We know that cigarette smoke heavily damages the lungs but scientists and doctors have long wondered what it does to the brain. There is an established, but “murky”, relationship between cigarette smoking and Alzheimer’s. A recent study with mice inhaling cigarette smoke significantly strengthened the suggested relationship.

Scientists led by Claudio Soto of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston exposed mice to cigarette smoke for four months. These exposed mice all showed signs of Alzheimer’s. Additionally, mice were bred with Alzheimer’s and then later exposed to cigarette smoke. These mice exhibited significantly worsened Alzheimer’s symptoms.

This sort of research proves extremely beneficial to humans and will most likely continue to become even more popular. Already, there are as many as 25 million mice used for medical research each year.

It seems as though we will have many mice to thank in the future.


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