I am a physician, and while I am always happy to hear someone has quit smoking, I worry that we shouldn’t see e-cigarettes as a miracle cure (“It made a health difference for me,” Readers Write, Nov. 11).

While the letter writer does not mention if he has a medical or scientific background, some of his claims are mistaken. His assertion that “vapor technology is not a tobacco product,” is simply false. The nicotine present in e-liquid used for vaping is extracted from tobacco plants. Often this liquid contains much higher levels of nicotine than traditional cigarettes, as well as heavy metals and fine particulates that can lodge deeply in the lungs. A recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that some e-liquids contain diacetyl, which has been found to cause irreversible lung damage when inhaled. The long-term health effects of vaping will remain unknown until further research emerges.

There’s also a very real concern that e-cigarettes are attracting kids to nicotine and addiction. Nicotine is dangerous for young people’s brain development, and the tobacco industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars marketing their products to addict new smokers. The Minnesota Department of Health’s recently released Minnesota Student Survey shows an alarming increase in e-cigarette use among our young people. Half of students using vapor technology are also using at least one other tobacco product. I think the letter writer would agree, having personally struggled with the health challenges of tobacco use since the age of 16, that we cannot continue to put our young people at risk for a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

We must continue to focus our efforts on limiting the harmful effects of nicotine on our communities. Common-sense regulations are justified to keep our kids safe.

Dr. Carolyn McClain, Edina

The writer is president of the Twin Cities Medical Society.

PRESCRIBING STATINS WIDELY

Lifestyle changes seem like the far wiser first step

Regarding the Nov. 14 article “Panel advises wider statin use,” about the idea that everyone over 40 should consider taking drugs to lower cholesterol, someone should point out that the president of the American College of Cardiology is vegan. He says that lifestyle choice might not work for everyone but that it might work for some, and it’s cheaper, without the side effects of drugs. If I had high cholesterol, that would be the first thing I would try before committing to a lifetime of taking expensive drugs with possible bad side effects.

Steven White, Minneapolis

• • •

Of course the medical industry and the “research” it controls recommend far broader use of statins; the industry reaps the tremendous profits from ever more expensive drug sales. Everyone has some risk of a heart attack or stroke, some more than others, but statins just have too many risky side effects that often cause more harm than good.

Mankind was not created to rely on drug ingestion to maintain life and health. Common sense dictates that a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition, exercise, avoidance of bad habits and risky behaviors, and adequate sleep for our overall well-being. There are many alternative supplements and therapies free of serious side effects. I refused to take statins after a stroke last year, and minor adjustments to diet (more oatmeal) led to very acceptable cholesterol levels two months later.

We all have to work to reduce drug use and medical costs for the health-care system to survive for those who truly need it.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis

RELIGION AND GENDER

God is a ‘he,’ and that’s that

A Nov. 13 letter writer, seeking to augment the Nov. 6 commentary “The sisterhood, still marginalized,” objects to the Catholic Church (instituted by Jesus Christ) identifying God with male pronouns. Well, Jesus, when quoted in scripture about the creator of all things, calls him “father.” Catholics also believe that Jesus is truly God (the second person of the blessed trinity). Does the letter writer then believe that Jesus was a female, disputing all scripture? In closing, she hints that Donald Trump’s win somehow is connected with the church’s decision to have an all-male clergy. Does that reference indicate that the pope influenced the election?

James P. Lynch, Edina

• • •

Perhaps an answer at billygraham.org will help the Nov. 13 letter writer understand:

Why does the Bible refer to God in masculine terms?

The answer to the question about why God is referred to in masculine terms in the Bible really has only one answer: This is the way God has chosen to reveal himself to us. God is never described with sexual characteristics in the Scriptures, but he does consistently describe himself in the masculine gender.

While God contains all the qualities of both male and female genders, he has chosen to present himself with an emphasis on masculine qualities of fatherhood, protection, direction, strength, etc. Metaphors used to describe him in the Bible include: king, father, judge, husband, master, and the God and father of our lord Jesus Christ.

Only God can change his word. No human has that capability. You either accept it or you don’t.

Marilyn Mangan, Mound

CAPITALISM

Avoid embracing absolutes

To the writer of the Nov. 17 letter calling socialism “absolutely wrong, inferior” and extolling capitalism as “absolutely right, a superior, successful economic system,” I suggest visiting Nicaragua, where the wealthy don’t pay taxes, have few regulations, can do most anything they want, but must wall in their property and have 24/7 guards to protect them. In the capital city, if you get water splashed on you while walking along Lake Managua, you must immediately take a shower to avoid a skin infection from the toxicity of the giant lake’s water, which serves as their sewer and toxic-waste dump. For contrast, the writer should visit moderate-socialist Denmark, which is frequently rated as the happiest country in the world, where you can start a business more easily than in the U.S., and essentially walk freely and safely anywhere. They have few natural resources, but the free education and health care provides the country with a highly educated populace able to successfully compete with anyone in the world. So much for absolutes.

Dennis Andersen, Minnetonka

BIKE THEFT

The racket just rolls on

James Lileks’ open letter to bike thieves (“Hope you crash like you deserve,” Nov. 13) only touches the tip of the iceberg. It’s no secret in the cycling community that bike thefts are rampant. Multiple bikes per day are reported stolen by their owners on community Facebook pages. I have a very good idea where I can go to buy a stolen $1,000 bike for $40. In person, or online. It’s as if the thief is holding the bike ransom. If it were stolen laptops being sold on the street, there would be a public outcry. As it is, it just seems to be business as usual.

Tom Cahoy, Minneapolis