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Is Vaping a Safe Alternative to Smoking?

Posted Thursday 24 October 2019 12:27 by in Smoking Cessation by Johanna Galyen

October, in the UK, is also known as Stoptober. A nationwide campaign to help stamp out smoking once and for all. Although it has been 12 years since the “ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and workplaces took effect throughout the UK,” says the Centre for Public Impact, smoking is still prevalent. One of the many ways to stop smoking that is suggested is switching to vaping. But is this safe?

Vaping: A Basic Understanding

Cigarettes rely upon the burning cigarette’s smoke to carry nicotine into the lungs. Unfortunately, this smoke also carries carbon monoxide, tar, and many other harmful chemicals. Vaping uses a liquid vapor to carry the nicotine. This vapor is often made out of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, not out of water, as some might think.

In the UK, the amount of nicotine is more highly controlled than in other countries. The milligram levels are restricted to 20 milligrams, which have been reduced from 24. The companies cannot market their products in commercials, and only those ages 18 and over can purchase the products.

The Independent reported an “estimated 3.6 million people in the UK use vapes, according to a survey earlier this year.”

Is Vaping Safe?

This is a tough answer. Vaping is safer than smoking — just as not handling poisonous snakes is safer than playing with them. Some would say that it is 95% safer than smoking. Vaping does not carry the dangerous chemicals that are associated with cancer. But is it 100% safe as compared to never vaping or smoking? No. Stopping smoking and vaping all together is always better than choosing between the two.

Here are some statistics that were reported as of October 1, 2019, in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control.

  • As of October 8, 2019, 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory.
  • Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.
  • All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

Experts are cautioning doctors in the UK that e-cigarette deaths and illnesses are not just an American problem. There are “200 adverse reactions listed in the UK Yellow Card reports include major health problems such as cardiac arrest, epilepsy and spontaneous abortion, they also include coughs, sneezing and headaches” says The Independent. While there are stronger regulations in the UK, it is only a matter of time until people there start improperly using e-cigarettes and mixing in other ingredients like THC. This may be a world-wide issue unless strongly confronted.

Making Stoptober a Landmark in Your Life

Instead of switching from cigarettes to vaping pen, try stopping smoking all together. For the first time in years or even decades, be free of the need to smoke something. Champix is a prescription-based medication that alleviates cravings without reliance on Nicotine.

Studies have found that those taking Champix (varenicline) were the most successful in quitting smoking than those trying other tobacco dependence methods such as the patch or gum.

Knowing the difference between confusing scientific studies and real pharmacological benefits is important for your health. In some situations, you may need additional support, treatment, and medication. Discover medications for smoking cessation like Champix here at Express Pharmacy. We can help you gain access to effective treatment swiftly and discreetly.

Contact us today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online Live Chat service.

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From Myths to Medicine: How Our Understanding of Smoking Has Changed Throughout History

Posted Monday 21 October 2019 08:43 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

smoking myths

In the UK, 16.5% of men and 13% of women still smoke.[1] This may sound like a lot – and it is – but this is still a significant drop on the number of smokers documented 10 years ago. In fact, both cigarette smoking prevalence and the average number of cigarettes smoked by smokers per day have been decreasing since the 1970s.[2]

This is largely due to the increase in the scientific information available regarding tobacco. But our understanding of its risks hasn’t always been so strong.

Smoking has been the subject of much misinformation

People have smoked tobacco and other substances since ancient times. All over the Americas and across Indigenous peoples, tobacco was used in rituals and as a pastime as early as 5000 BC.[3]

By the 1700s, smoking had become a widespread habit throughout the western world. In the early- to mid-20th century, the popularity of smoking grew even more as misinformation about cigarettes became widespread, thanks in large to the boom in advertising. In the mid- and late-20th century however, particularly after World War II, people began to understand that there were serious health repercussions involved in smoking tobacco.[4]

Some of the wildest myths about smoking that people believed in the past include that it could relieve headaches and that it could ward off diseases. Some past health experts even believed tobacco could be used as an anaesthetic!

Today, there is no hiding from the damage smoking can cause

Today, most of us know that smoking is bad for us. Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death in the world.[5] Around three in 20, or 15%, of cancer cases in the UK are caused by tobacco.[6] This makes smoking the largest cause of cancer in the UK.

Smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer: lung, larynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, nasopharynx, bladder, pharynx, kidney, pancreas, stomach, liver, cervix, bowel, ovarian cancers and leukaemia.[7] It can also be a causal factor in early onset menopause, impotence, poor olfactory function and lower life expectancy.[8]

These kind of statistics and findings have clarified our understanding of the dangers of smoking. As such, our attitudes towards the habit are changing. The NHS reports that there has been a general decline in positive attitudes towards smoking, particularly among young people.[9] Since the 2007 smoking ban, attitudes and behaviours have changed even more dramatically.

Quitting for good requires perseverance and support

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of succeeding in your attempt to quit. These include:

  • Being realistic but positive in your expectations
  • Doing regular exercise
  • Making non-smoking friends
  • Finding ways to keep your hands busy
  • Identifying what triggers your cravings
  • Making changes to your diet and drink habits[10]

Some people benefit from quitting as part of a group, or seeking support via apps or family members. Others use safe and effective medication to improve their chances of success.

Are you trying to give up smoking for good this Stoptober? You’ll find safe and effective smoking cessation medication like Champix right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with our experts today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat system.

[1] Office of National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK. 2018

[2] Office of National Statistics. Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. 2013

[3] Gately, I. Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization. 2007

[4] Cancer Council. A brief history of smoking. 2010

[5] World Lung Foundation. The Tobacco Atlas. 2018

[6] Brown, KF., et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Island, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer. 2016

[7] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco Statistics. 2018

[8] Action on Smoking and Health. Facts at a glance — key smoking statistics. 2018

[9] NHS Digital. Statistics on Smoking, England. 2019

[10] NHS UK. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking. 2018

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How Diet Impacts Cystitis

Posted Friday 11 October 2019 20:56 by in Women's Medication by Tim Deakin

Every year, an estimated four million UK women suffer from cystitis, one of the most common urinary tract infections (UTI). One third of these women are younger than 24 years old.[1]

But what exactly is cystitis, and is there any relation to the food you eat and the severity of your symptoms?

What is cystitis?

Many women will have experienced a UTI like cystitis at some point in their lives. Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by an infection. It can last several days and can result in significant discomfort.[2]

Symptoms of cystitis may include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • A frequent, urgent need to go to the toilet
  • Dark, cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Confusion[3]

How does diet impact cystitis?

No research specifically links certain foods to causing or remedying a UTI. However, some people with cystitis find that certain foods are drinks can act as triggers for symptoms. Most common among these are coffee, soda, alcohol, tomatoes, hot and spicy foods, other caffeinated beverages, chocolate, fruit juices and MSG.[4]

Likewise, some people find that certain foods and drinks help to alleviate symptoms, but again these can differ from person to person. Most importantly, you should aim to eat in moderation and enjoy a balanced diet. Eating a range of healthy food from all different food groups is important for your overall health, including your bladder health.

Drinking plenty of water is key when suffering with a urinary tract infection. This helps to replace the fluids lost by the frequent toilet trips brought on by the infection. It can also help speed up the process of flushing out the infection.[5]

Common misconceptions about cystitis

One of the most commonly shared remedies for cystitis is cranberry juice, but research from Yale University suggests that this is an urban myth. The belief is that a compound in cranberries called proanthocyanin is able to inhibit the growth of the infection, but the study found that cranberries had little to no impact on the condition.[6]

It may just be that drinking lots of cranberry juice is only as beneficial as drinking plenty of any fluid.

Alleviating a UTI

As well as monitoring your diet, there are simple measures you can put in place in order to help prevent cystitis from occurring. These include:

  • Having a shower rather than a bath
  • Not using perfumed cleaning products
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Going to the toilet as soon as you feel the need
  • Wearing cotton rather than synthetic underwear[7]

However, curing an existing case of cystitis usually requires a course of antibiotics. Studies have shown cystitis medication like Trimethoprim to be 94% effective in alleviating a UTI within a week.[8]

Safe and effective cystitis medication like Trimethoprim is available right here at Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our experts today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] Cox, D. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about urinary tract infections. The Guardian. 2017

[2] NHS UK. Cystitis. 2018

[3] Bupa UK. Cystitis. 2018

[4] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Can what I eat or drink relieve or prevent IC? 2017

[5] Urology Care Foundation. Effect of Diet on Interstitial Cystitis. 2016

[6] Juthani-Mehta, M. MD. et al. Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Old Women in Nursing Homes. JAMA. 2016

[7] NHS UK. Cystitis. 2018

[8] Osterberg, E. Efficacy of single-dose versus seven-day trimethoprim treatment of cystitis in women: a randomized double-blind study. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1990

Tags: Trimethoprim Cystitis Women's Health

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How Did the Smoking Ban Change Our Relationship With Cigarettes?

Posted Friday 04 October 2019 09:25 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

Smoking can have a serious impact on the health of your heart, brain, circulation, stomach, mouth, skin and lungs. When you some, you increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and reproductive issues.[1]

But with the arrival of October comes the effort of many to give up smoking for a whole 28 days. The UK’s history of smoking has had a lot of ups and downs, but undoubtedly one of the most significant moments was the implementation of the smoking ban.

Back in 2006, parliament voted to outlaw smoking in all workplaces, on public transport, in pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants and in shopping centres in England and Wales. The ban came into force in Scotland in March 2006, with Wales following suit in April. The ban came into effect in Northern Ireland on 30th April. England put the smoking ban into action on 1st July 2007.[2]

The impact of the smoking ban, in numbers

The 2007 smoking ban transformed the UK forever. From our social habits and attitudes to our overall health, things have certainly changed in the time since the ban’s introduction:

Changes were implemented quickly and businesses were very complaint. In the first 18 months, councils inspected 590,155 premises. Of these, 98.2% obeyed.[3]

Smoking rates have fallen significantly since the ban. Back in 1974, almost half the UK population were smokers. By 2007, just over a fifth of the population smoked. By 2016, fewer than 17% of people smoked.[4]

Fewer young people now smoke. In 2001, 18% of 11-16 year olds smoked. By 2014, around 5% smoked.[5]

Many people attribute their lack of smoking directly to the ban. YouGov reports that 14% of ex-smokers say the ban helped them quit, while 20% of current smokers say the ban helped them cut down.[6]

Bar workers showed immediate signs of improved health flowing the ban. In 2007, before the ban, more than 65% of bar workers reported respiratory concerns. In 2008, just one year later, this number had fallen to less than 40%.[7]

There is still work to do when it comes to smoking

Despite these positive changes, our fight against the dangers of smoking is far from over. Smoking is still the largest cause of cancer in the UK, and 15% of UK adults still smoke.[8] What’s more, tobacco remains the largest preventable cause of death in the world. [9] In 2015 alone, almost a fifth (19%) of all deaths from all causes in the UK were caused by smoking.[10]

Second-hand smoke is still an issue too, as an estimated 11,000 deaths occur in the UK each year as a result of second-hand smoke.[11] There is also still a clear rich and poor divide when it comes to smoking, as people from low-income households are much more likely to smoke. 19% of people with an income under £10,000 smoke, while only 10.7% of those with incomes over £40,000 smoke.[12]

Medication can help you quit this October

That’s why it’s encouraging that thousands of people every year take part in the Stoptober effort. If you’re hoping to cut down on your cigarette use this October, you can use tried and tested medication to help you find success.

Clinical trials of medications like Champix have proven just how effective they can be in smoking cessation. One study found that almost three quarters of participants using Champix successfully abstained from smoking for 52 weeks, compared to less than half of those using a placebo.[13]

You can find safe and effective smoking cessation medication like Champix right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. How smoking affects your body. 2015

[2] Politics UK. Smoking Ban. 2019

[3] Local Government Association. A breath of fresh air: smoke-free workplaces 10 years on. 2017

[4] Office of National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in Great Britain. 2017.

[5] NHS Digital. Statistics on Smoking, England. 2019

[6] Action on Smoking and Health. England a decade after the smoking ban – heading for a smoke-free future. 2017

[7] Triggle, N. Pub smoking ban: 10 charts that show the impact. BBC. 2017

[8] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco Statistics. 2018

[9] World Lung Foundation. The Tobacco Atlas. 2018

[10] Peto, R., Lopez, A., Boreham, J. et al. Mortality from smoking in developed countries 1950-2020. 2015

[11] Jamrozik, K. Estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking among UK adults: database analysis. British Medical Journal. 2005

[12] Office of National Statistics. Likelihood of smoking four times higher in England’s most deprived areas than least deprived. 2018

[13] Ebbert, J. et al. Varenicline for smoking cessation: efficacy, safety, and treatment recommendations. Patient Preference and Adherence. 2010

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The Impact of Alcohol on Migraines

Posted Tuesday 01 October 2019 09:13 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

Migraines are extremely intense headaches which can also result in vision problems, dizziness and nausea. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, though they are thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity.[1]

But one theory behind migraines is that they can be caused by excessive drinking. We’re going to take a closer look at this theory.

Can alcohol cause migraines?

Although there is not enough evidence to conclusively state that drinking alcohol causes migraines, there is reason enough to find a link between the two.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you expel more fluid when you take it in, often referred to as ‘breaking the seal’. Losing fluid from your body can lead to dehydration, which is another known migraine trigger. What’s more, drinking alcohol relaxes the blood vessels, which causes increased blood flow to the brain and can make migraines more likely to occur.[2]

One 2014 study studied two groups — migraine sufferers and non-sufferers — after a night of drinking. They found that participants who suffered from migraines experienced a higher tendency of migraine-like symptoms, but no difference in other hangover symptoms compared to non-sufferers.[3]

What’s more, population-based studies in various countries such as Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the US have consistently found that fewer migraine sufferers consume alcohol than those without headaches. This is most likely explained as migraine sufferers giving up alcohol because it is triggering headaches.[4]

Alcohol as a migraine trigger

Of all alcoholic drinks, red wine is often cited as the biggest migraine trigger. Studies have shown that the odds of a person naming red wine as a migraine trigger are over three times greater than the odds of naming beer.[5]

Research does show that red wine could cause issues for people with certain sensitivities. For example, red wine contains 20-200 times the amount of histamine as white wine. Migraines can be a symptom of histamine intolerance, so people with this allergy may experience migraines as a result of drinking.

Red wine can also cause a rise in the level of serotonin in the blood, which has been linked to migraine headaches.[6]

Alcohol is also a well-known trigger of cluster headaches — a similar phenomenon to migraines characterised by pain on one side of the head. Those with a cluster headache are advised to avoid drinking alcohol until the episode has completely passed.[7]

How to reduce the severity and frequency of your migraines

Outside of alcohol, there are many other factors which have been known to trigger migraines in sufferers. These can be emotional, physical, dietary or environmental, and include:

Stress and anxiety



Bright lights


Skipping meals


Lack of sleep[8]

Addressing these problem areas can help to alleviate the intensity and frequency of your migraines. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, eating regular healthy meals and getting enough fresh air and natural light are just some of the ways people manage their migraine symptoms.[9]

Migraine medication like Sumatriptan can also be useful in reducing migraine symptoms. In fact, clinical studies showed that migraine intensity dropped by 79% in participants given 8mg of Sumatriptan, compared to just 25% in those given the placebo drug.[10]

Safe and effective migraine treatment is available from Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Migraine. 2019

[2] Panconesi, A. MD. Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption mechanisms. A review. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2008

[3] Zlotnik, Y. et al. Alcohol consumption and hangover patterns among migraine sufferers. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice. 2014.

[4] Panconesi, A. MD. Alcohol and Migraine. American Migraine Foundation. 2016

[5] Mathew, PG. MD, FAAN, FAHS. Alcohol and headaches. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018.

[6] Panconesi. 2008

[7] The Migraine Trust. Cluster Headache. 2019

[8] NHS UK. Migraine Causes. 2019.

[9] The Migraine Trust. Coping and managing. 2019

[10] The Subcutaneous Sumatriptan International Study Group. Treatment of Migraine Attacks with Sumatriptan. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1991.

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