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HEALTH

Electronic cigarettes may be bad for your health

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

Q: I want to quit smoking and am thinking about trying electronic cigarettes. Are they safe? Do they work? — Matthew F., Atlanta

A: Congratulations! That commitment is the first step to victory! Now you want to choose a routine that's effective.

We think smokeless electronic cigarettes threaten the progress that's been made in helping people get free of nicotine and tobacco. E-cigs deliver pure nicotine to the lungs. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that, if people start using traditional and e-cigarettes together, the public health repercussions could be pretty bad.

Also, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate e-cigs (they're trying), so no one knows for sure what's in the water vapor that drifts out of them, how much nicotine they deliver or whether other toxins are present (they're reported to contain chemicals that are as bad for you as cigarettes, or worse). Most are made in China.

Their vapors are free of the tar and carbon monoxide in real cigs, but the device doesn't necessarily lessen nicotine dependence. Breaking habits means substituting new behaviors for old ones; the electronic cigs just keep you puffing away (inhaling toxins, if reports are correct).

Stick with patches and gums for smoking cessation. And follow our proven techniques for kicking nicotine and tobacco. The full program is on www.RealAge.com.

1. Exercise daily — walk at least 30 minutes, jog, swim or cycle. Withdrawal symptoms will vaporize.

2. Along with nicotine patches, ask your doc about using the anti-craving drug buproprion.

3. Upgrade your diet. Eliminate refined carbs and added sugars and sugar syrups; they fuel food cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You'll lose weight as you quit. Women typically lose six pounds on our Enforcer E-coaching program.

Q: I can't seem to get into a comfortable position at my desk at work. I like my job, but it's killing my back, neck, everything! Any suggestions? — Trevor, G. Anaheim, Calif.

A: The average American spends around five hours a day sitting down, but folks in offices may spend much more than that! So for you and your colleagues, we say: Set up your workspace so you can do some sitting, standing and walking. It'll provide relief right away, and let you live longer! Here's how.

1. Sit in a stress-free position, and get up and walk around for at least 10 minutes every two hours — no excuses! In your chair, your back should have lumbar (lower back) support. Your seat should be well-padded and at a height that makes your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet slightly forward. Use a footrest if you cannot reach the floor comfortably. Hands, wrists and forearms should be parallel to the floor; elbows in and shoulders relaxed with upper arms hanging normally. Your head should be straight over your torso when you're looking at your monitor.

2. Try a standing desk. The same positioning guidelines apply: You want good posture with your head, neck, torso and legs aligned. Your hands, wrists and forearms parallel to the floor. Elbows in and shoulders relaxed with upper arms hanging normally. You can alternate putting a foot up on a rest if that's comfortable. You'll improve muscle tone, ease backaches and lose a little weight (it takes added calories to stand up).

3. Go for Dr. Mike's favorite (he has one in his office) — the treadmill desk. It improves circulation, increases oxygen to the brain (you think better) and ups your metabolism (tone those thighs!).

An Australian study shows the importance of using a standing or treadmill desk; it found people who sit for eight to 11 hours a day were 15 percent more likely to die sooner than those who sat four hours or less. Those who sat for 11 hours or more were 40 percent more likely to die sooner, whether they worked out or not!

Our bottom line? Make sure you stand, walk and sit during your workday. You'll feel best when you stay off your butt 85 percent of the day.

Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily@sharecare.com.