When It Comes To Antibiotics and Hookah Parlors…

27 Oct

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing. You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do. In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

This month, we want to discuss a couple questions sent by readers of my new book, This is YOUR Do-Over: The Seven Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, And Getting A Second Chance at the Life You Want (shameless plug—you can order it on Amazon). You can send us questions anytime to youdocs@gmail.com, just put “Question for Dr Mike Roizen to answer” in the subject line and I’ll try to get to it.

Q) How safe are antibiotics for kids under 6?   Jill in Atlanta.

A) Scientists from New York University Langone Medical Center have found that antibiotics (amoxicillin and a class of antibiotics called macrolides, in terms of their research) are linked to immune problems and alternations in bone development if more than two rounds are taken during childhood—especially between birth and age two. They also suggest that exposure to antibiotics early in life upsets a child’s gut bacteria balance and permanently reprograms the body’s metabolism, setting up a predisposition for obesity!

So, Jill, where does that leave you? You want to help your kids overcome ear infections and other childhood bacterial assaults, but you and your doctor need to discuss the risks and benefits of antibiotic prescriptions for your child. And when antibiotics are truly needed (hey, they’re life-savers!), you want to help your child restore his or her gut biome. Feed ‘em lots of fiber-rich veggies and 100% whole grains, probiotic foods (if your child can handle solids like these) such as sauerkraut, kimchii, yogurt, and kefir (try em…your kids will follow your lead) and, if your doc says okay, a low-dose lactobacillus probiotic. We believe the obesity epidemic may well turn out to be related to a combination of factors including more screen time, larger serving portions, and antibiotics in the food supply and their overuse during childhood!


Q2) My teenage son and now my daughter are hanging out in a Hookah club…and tell me the stuff is all filtered thru water so it is safe. I trust you—and even my kids read your columns. Tell me and them the truth. Are Hookah Parlors Safe? Jo Ann in Albany.

A) The use of hookahs – pipes that bubble tobacco smoke through water before you puff – doubled among middle- and high-schoolers in just one year. Now it’s on par with cigarette use among school-age kids. One possible factor fueling the crazy is the dangerous myth that these exotic pipes are harmless.

The truth: Hookahs are dangerous. Research shows they deliver 100 times more lung-clogging tar, four times more nicotine (tobacco’s most addictive chemical), and eleven times more heart-threatening carbon monoxide than one cigarette. Hookah-users are also exposed to high levels of carcinogens, including benzene and acrolein.

In one remarkable study, scientists convinced 55 hookah users to abstain for a week. They then analyzed their urine the morning after they spent one evening in the hookah bar of their choice. In this important real-world study, smokers’ nicotine levels increased 73-fold after their hookah night, and levels of cancer-causing compounds in their urine increased between 41 to 93%! But surveys show that teens and young adults, including college students, think hookahs and hookah parlors or bars are safe. They mistakenly believe that the water in these fancy pipes filters out the toxins in tobacco smoke. The truth is, these water pipes may make the smoke less irritating, but that just encourages users to smoke more!

Typically shared with several others, a hookah user sucks in the smoke through a mouthpiece and tube attached to a pipe. A session may last a half-hour to an hour or longer, leading to inhaling as much smoke as you’d get from up to 100 cigarettes (5 packs) in one session. The exposure to air from charcoal used to keep the tobacco burning also poses substantial health risks that cause chronic disease and disability.

The manufacturing and marketing of hookah tobacco (and the charcoal) is currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That leaves the door open to sales of flavored hookah tobaccos — also called shisha, narghile and hubble-bubble — that are especially attractive to young users. We hope more states and communities close legal loopholes that allow hookah bars, lounges, and cafes to open their doors to young kids. Until that happens, here’s what you should know about this dangerous new craze…

Hookahs can hook your teen or tween on tobacco for life. A recent Dartmouth College School of Medicine survey of 1,050 young smokers, age 15 to 23, found that within two years, 39% who had smoked a hookah had “graduated” to cigarettes. Those early smokers are more likely to get hooked and have a harder time quitting.

Share a pipe and you’re swapping disease-causing germs. Sharing saliva means sharing herpes or the flu. Health groups warn that hookahs may even spread hepatitis, tuberculosis, and even some more serious viruses like MERS if you are unlucky enough to share a pipe with an infected individual!

Hookah smoke contains an alarming variety of harmful chemicals. Yes, hookah smoking is an old tradition dating back at least 600 years. But so does the falsehood that they’re a healthy way to smoke. There’s nothing healthy or natural about it. We mentioned a bunch of the risks already. Others toxins in the smoke include heavy metals, formaldehyde, and a nasty radioactive compound called “Po.” Short for polonium-210, this radioactive stuff concentrates in the delicate airways of the lungs and can course its way throughout the body, causing genetic damage, and premature aging. Not healthy!


Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—to youdocs@gmail.com, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).


Young Dr Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)


NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.

This article is of the opinion of its author.

Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have tow newly revised books: The patron saint “book” of this column YOU Staying Young—revised and YOU: The Owner’s Manual…revised —yes a revision of the book that started Dr Oz to being Dr Oz. These makes great gifts—so do YOU: ON a Diet and YOU: The Owner’s Manual for teens. And, the new book by Dr Mike Roizen: This is YOUR Do-Over

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on http://www.radioMD.com Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including: YOU Staying Young.

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