Archive for the 'Smoking Cessation' Category

Many Long-Term Smokers have Chronic Lung Disease, But Don’t Know They Have It

the lungsLong-term smokers are at high risk of developing a chronic lung condition called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), but many are not even aware they have it during the early stages.  In a recent Canadian study of long-term smokers, about one in five were found to have COPD, but only a third of them knew they had the condition.

COPD causes a slow damage to the lungs. The destruction is irreversible, making it the leading cause of death and illness worldwide.

COPD develops slowly, and it may be many years before symptoms become noticeable. The severity of the following symptoms depends on how much of the lung has been destroyed. If you continue to smoke, the lung destruction will be more extensive than if you stop smoking.

  • Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
  • Chest tightness
  • Cough (A cough that doesn’t go away and coughing up large amounts of mucus are common signs of COPD)
  • Sputum (mucous) production
  • Wheezing

Most COPD is caused by long-term smoking and can be prevented by not smoking or quitting soon after you start. Damage to your lungs can’t be reversed, so treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and minimizing further damage.

Breathing in other kinds of lung irritants, like pollution, dust, or chemicals over a long period of time may also cause or contribute to COPD.

If you think you might be at risk of having COPD, ask your doctor to order a simple breathing test called spirometry.

More Information: Quitting Smoking, About COPD

Source:  Hill K, et al “Prevalence and underdiagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among patients at risk in primary care” CMAJ 2010. DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.091784. 

Source: “Undiagnosed COPD Common”, MedPage Today, April 6, 2010  

Stop Smoking and Save Your Blood Vessels

Blood vessels throughout the bodySmoking wreaks havoc on every blood vessel in the human body, it damages nearly every organ, and is linked to at least 15 different cancers.  But researchers from the University of Wisconsin offer hope for long-term smokers.  In their recent study of 1,500 smokers, blood vessel function started recovering one year after the smokers kicked the habit. 

More Information: Smoking Cessation  includes a photo of a chronic smoker’s lungs, the facts about smoking, and tips and resources for quitting

Source: University of Wisconsin, news release, March 15, 2010

 Source: “Blood Vessels Bounce Back Once Smokers Quit”, HealthDay, March 16, 2010


Electronic Cigarettes Contain Chemical Used in Antifreeze

Electronic cigarettes are loaded with carcinogens and addictive nicotine Readily available on the internet and shopping malls, electronic cigarettes are marketed to teens and touted as a healthy substitute for cigarettes.  E-cigarettes, which are often made to look like real cigarettes, are far from healthy.

The FDA has recently analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two leading brands of e-cigarettes. A chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans was found, as well as other  known carcinogens, such as nitrosamines, were detected.   

These products have never been submitted to the FDA for evaluation or approval, so at this time the agency has no way of knowing, except for the limited testing it has performed, the various levels of nicotine or the different amounts or kinds of other chemicals that these products deliver to the user. In fact, little is known about the devices.

The devices, known as e-cigarettes, are battery operated and contain nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals that are converted into a vapor that the user inhales.  Flavors such as chocolate, cola and bubble gum provide a youthful appeal.  Manufacturers provide no health warning on the product and claim that they are a safe alternative to cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco.  

The FDA said it has been examining and detaining shipments of e-cigarettes at the borders since Summer 2008, and is currently involved in a lawsuit challenging its jurisdiction over certain e-cigarettes.
Source: “E-Cigarettes Subject of FDA Warning”, MedPage Today, July 23, 2009

Stop Smoking Gradually with Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Stop smoking with nicotine replacement therapySmokers who do not want to quit right now, but who are willing to try to cut down their smoking, are twice as likely to stop smoking permanently if they use nicotine replacement therapy, according to a new study by British researchers from the University of Birmingham.
In a related article, the UK researchers note that one option for patients who have previously used nicotine replacement but still failed to stop is to use the patch plus another form of nicotine replacement, such as gum or lozenge. The patch provides continuous nicotine replacement and the gum or lozenge helps with “breakthrough” urges. Previous research has found that the patch plus an immediate form of nicotine replacement increases the chances of permanent smoking cessation.

Nicotine Replacement Products carry no cancer risk.  Nicotine itself is a stimulant and not a carcinogen. Cigarettes contain over 60 carcinogens, but nicotine is not one of them.  Many people attempting to quit smoking are unaware of these facts about nicotine.

Another common misconception is that so-called “light? cigarettes are better for them. People smoke to get the drug nicotine, but a smoker actually inhales 4,000 other chemicals, in addition to the nicotine.  Toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, and carbon monoxide are inhaled with every puff.

Read more about “Smoking Cessation and Nicotine Replacement Products”

Source: “Managing Smoking Cessation” BMJ  2007;335:37-41 (7 July), doi:10.1136/bmj.39252.591806.47

Source: “Smoking” from the American Cancer Society

Source: Virginia Reichert, N.P., director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

Secondhand Smoke Can Damage the Brain

Passive Smoke is HarmfulPassive smoking, also known as secondhand smoke, has been found to impair cognition according to British researchers from the University of Cambridge. In their recent study, nonsmokers with the heaviest secondhand smoke exposure were at a 44% higher risk of scoring in the bottom 10% on cognitive testing, compared with those with the lowest level of passive smoking.  

People over fifty were included in this clinical trial, but other studies have also connected secondhand smoke exposure to impaired cognition in both children and adolescents.

Passive smoking has also been found to be a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, tuberculosis,  breast cancer, psoriasis, glucose intolerance, and other chronic medical conditions.

The results from a number of studies affirm that public interventions which prohibit smoking can have an enormous impact on public health.  In fact several studies have provided evidence that smoking bans have not only reduced respiratory symptoms among workers in service industries, but hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction in the general population have significantly decreased.

Source: “Secondhand Smoke Linked to Adult Cognitive Impairment’, MedPage Today, February 15, 2009
Source: Llewellyn D, et al “Exposure to secondhand smoke and cognitive impairment in non-smokers: national cross sectional study with cotinine measurement” BMJ 2009; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b462.
Source: Menzies D et al. “Respiratory Symptoms, Pulmonary Function, and Markers of Inflammation Among Bar Workers Before and After a Legislative Ban on Smoking in Public Places.” JAMA. 2006;296:1742-1748

Smoking Cessation More Successful with Monetary Reward

CigaretteWorkers given financial rewards from their employers,  ranging from $100 to $400, were more likely to be smoke-free up to 18 months later compared to workers who were merely given information on smoking cessation, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for a growing list of cancers as well as chronic diseases. 

Many people who are trying to quit don’t know that Nicotine Replacement Products are widely recommended by health care professionals and carry no cancer risk. Nicotine itself is a stimulant and not a carcinogen. Cigarettes contain over 60 carcinogens, but nicotine is not one of them.  Many people attempting to quit smoking are unaware of these facts about nicotine. Another common misconception is that so-called “light? cigarettes are better for them. People smoke to get the drug nicotine, but a smoker actually inhales about 4,000 additional chemicals as well.  Some of the chemicals include formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, and carbon monoxide.

Read more about Smoking Cessation

Source: N Engl J Med. 2009;60:699–709
Virginia Reichert, N.P., director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

Ten important steps to ward off cancer

1. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains. Read about the top power foods.Fruits, grains, vegetables, salmon

2. Minimize high-fat foods and meats in your diet. Read and understand food labels

3. Be active and stay fit. Get started on a regular exercise program that you will enjoy. The 18 benefits of exercise and how to get started.

4. Drink minimal alcohol, if you drink at all. How much is unhealthy?

5. Don’t start smoking, and if you do smoke, make every effort to stop as soon as possible. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society. Stop smoking, get results, change your life!

6. Shield your skin from the sun. Sun damage to deeper layers of skin eventually can cause cancer.

7. Get regular pap smear screening and colonoscopy as recommended for your age, family history, and medical history.  Pap smear screening is an important method of detecting early cervical cancer. Colonoscopy both prevents and detects colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths.  Read about colonoscopy.

8. Girls age 11-18 should get the vaccine for HPV (human papilloma virus).  A decision about whether a woman aged 19 to 26 years should get the vaccine should be based on an informed discussion between the woman and her health care provider.

9.  Be aware of and try to avoid environmental carcinogens.

10. Ask your doctor about checking a blood test for Vitamin D levels. Many recent studies have found that adequate levels of Vitamin D appear to be critical in preventing cancer and many other serious, chronic diseases, yet the deficiency is widespread in the U.S. and worldwide. This has prompted a recent surge in the number of general practitioners and pediatricians who are now routinely screening for adequate blood levels of Vitamin D and recommending Vitamin D supplementation

Photo courtesy of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)


Broccoli may slow progression of COPD

A recent study has indicated that  an anti-oxidant found in broccoli, sulforaphane, may help slow the progression of COPD.  The work is preliminary and conducted solely on mouse cells, but this research may hold the key to determining why some people develop emphysema while others don’t. 

While eating broccoli may be good for your lungs, if you’re a smoker, the best thing to do for them is put down the cigarette.

via MedPageToday

Being married to a smoker increases stroke risk

Being married to a smoker increased stroke risk by 42% in nonsmokers and by 72% in former smokers according to a recent study from Harvard and Columbia.

via American Journal of Preventive Medicine, July 2008 

Learn more about:
-Smoking and how to stop

Side-effects of Chantix prompt new legislation

Pilots, air traffic controllers, truckers and bus drivers are now legally prohibited  from taking Chantix while working.  While Pfizer attempts to counter growing concerns over its smoking cessation drug, both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the FAA have released new statements banning the use of Chantix while operating planes, trucks, and buses.

Since its release in 2006, Chantix has been blamed for nearly 1,000 significant events reported to the FDA including serious accidents and falls, potentially lethal cardiac rhythm disturbances, severe skin reactions, acute myocardial infarction, seizures, diabetes, psychosis, aggression, and suicide. To top it off there have been 420 confirmed reports of mood changes, including anxiety, nervousness, depressed mood, tension, and suicidal behavior or suicidal thoughts.

Chantix does work pretty well in helping people stop smoking, but the concerns are mounting and the risks are certainly appearing to outweigh the benefits.  Clearly, stopping smoking is extremely important, but there are other methods that have worked for many people, such as nicotine replacement patches and the antidepressant Wellbutrin.  Finding a friend or co-worker who also wants to quit markedly improves motivation and increases the chances of success. 

For those who elect to start or continue on Chantix, the recently published warning from the FDA and Pfizer should definitely be heeded: ”If either you, your family or caregiver notice agitation, depressed mood, or changes in behavior that are not typical for you, or if you have suicidal thoughts or actions, stop taking Chantix and call your doctor right away.”

via, May 2008
MedPage Today , May 21, 2008
via FDA, May 16, 2008