Ask A Doc



Are Vapes dangerous? The vast majority of vapes are made in China and the delivery device has not been checked by the FDA as far as dose or other chemicals present in the vapor.  The other products in the vapor can be: propylene glycol, flavorings, solvents, and other additives and their effects, short- and long term, are not known. The battery can leak or produce a vapor that you breathe in; sounds risky to me as first- or second-hand smoke.

As we discussed before, we don’t know which effects of cigarette use are from the nicotine alone, since cigarettes also have tar and many other chemicals. The physical effects take sometimes 20 years to develop, so obviously there is no good data on chronic inhaled vapor/nicotine/new chemicals effects.

Does vaping help you stop smoking? Many studies are underway to find out. Certainly not breathing in tar is a good thing. People have abused the nicotine patches and gum and are now abusing nicotine with vaporizers. The symptoms listed from nicotine poisoning are: Abdominal cramps, Agitation, restlessness, or excitement, Muscular twitching, Breathing – rapid, Breathing – stops, Burning sensation in mouth, Coma, Confusion, Convulsions, Depression, Difficulty breathing, Drooling (increased salivation), Fainting, Headache, Heartbeat – pounding and rapid, followed by slow heart rate, High blood pressure, which then drops, Vomiting, Weakness.



Having epilepsy is associated with ADHD, depression, anxiety, psychosis, autism, suicidal thoughts. So if you have epilepsy, ask your provider if you have an associated condition.



Why do we have cannabinoid receptors in our bones and joints, skin, and neurons?  They seem to be involved in pain, stress, and sleep. Arthritis specialists find no quality studies comparing cannabis to other medications (because the government feels it is highly addictive).  Companies take out the ingredients and then test, and then market them for a profit. There is no big money (positive energy) behind the buds and that is what the government feels is addictive (negative energy).  This study mentions that about 8% of chronic cannabis users become dependent (they will have a withdrawal if stopped abruptly).  The strict definition of addiction is manipulative and deceitful behavior to get more of the drug.  Dependence means there is a withdrawal.



We should consider physical fitness to add to the traditional risks of family history of stroke or heart attack of a relative at a middle age, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and hypertension. So get back to your aerobic exercise routine.



There is a benefit of mild alcohol use on the heart, but if you look a overall deaths, any alcohol is associated with earlier death. The more the earlier. You must weigh the risks with the alternatives.



Chelation therapy is putting large molecules in the blood to grab onto toxins. It seems to make sense, but this therapy has been tried by many and found to be dangerous. There was a new, careful study showing it did not help heart disease. You might go to the website to discuss why taking a worthless medication is still considered harmful.



If we floss and brush and see the dentist twice yearly, we will prevent gum disease and keep our teeth. If not, then gum disease happens but gingivitis affects other important parts of the body because of chronic inflammation. It promotes heart disease and stroke, accelerated aging of the body, may promote premature birth, increased hospital admission.



There are many with Hepatitis C who aren’t aware of their infection. Baby boomers, those born after World War II (after the surviving men came home there was a lot of sex) are the ones that may have caught it through needles and very rarely sex (a lesser risk factor is anal sex). It is recommended that those born 1945-1965 get tested at least once for Hepatitis C since there are short, easy to take cures available now (are you in this group and have you been tested?). First you must be staged and if you are in the early stages you can wait till the treatment costs go down from about $180,000 per treatment now. Many need treatment as soon as possible before they get much sicker. The number of providers available to treat is much smaller than the need, so treatment will be done mainly by generalists rather than specialists in the future. We expect the pills to come down in price and have many alternatives by next year and the years to come. Remember, each genotype of Hepatitis C may have its own best treatment combination.



The CDC now recommends we do HIV testing with newer technology to find people earlier in their disease, as soon as a week after infection and that is great news for the person who is positive since giving medicine early for a year may mean they don’t need medicine after that.



A recent study showed that PrEP was agreed to by many patients so they wouldn’t catch HIV. As far as we know, it must be taken daily to be effective. Of course condoms are more available and work very well and sexual satisfaction can be achieved after the body gets used to it. Truvada®. I looked up prices: mail order is about $600/month and a pharmacy told me the retail price is $1500/month.



In Thailand, drug users were given Truvada® and their chance of catching HIV was cut by 1/2. Of course a condom doesn’t prevent transmission by needles and of course they were encouraged to wear condoms.


Keep those questions coming. Be Safe!


Daniel Pearce, D.O., FACOI, AAHIVS
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine and HIV, Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine and Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine
Researcher, Veterans Administration Hospital, Loma Linda
HIV Specialist, Riverside County Public Health Department
Hepatitis C Specialist and Researcher, Southern California Liver Centers, Riverside
REFERENCES: Medscape, Medline Plus