Skip navigation
All People > Thomas3.20.2010 > Thomas3.20.2010 Blog > 2014 > December

Seizing LIFE!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 28, 2014

Smoking kills both quickly and slowly! I choose to live my life to the fullest. 


As another season of overindulging draws to a close, many of us will plan — then promptly ignore — resolutions to (pick one) lose excess weight, exercise or stop smoking. These days, however, it seems that smokers who vow to quit in the new year might have an added incentive, given that their habit, once viewed as a sign of sophistication, is now considered by many to be socially unacceptable and even offensive.

Whether you’re a smoker or not, no doubt you’re familiar with the litany of ill effects that can result from smoking, which claims more than 480,000 — that’s about one in five — American lives each year and is the top cause of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But even smokers who believe that they’ve heard it all before are often surprised to learn that lighting up can harm nearly every organ in their body and cause cancer not just in their lungs, throat, or mouth, but throughout their body. In addition, few smokers realize that with every drag on their cigarette they inhale carbon monoxide — the same carbon monoxide that many of us guard against with detectors in our homes, says Diane Masters, a health educator at Concord Hospital’s Center for Health Promotion. Masters likens smoking to standing and breathing behind a bus. “As a person smokes throughout the day, their carbon monoxide level increases so that by the time they go to bed at night their levels are sometimes alarmingly high, depending on how much they smoke,” she says.

If only quitting were easier. When smokers try to break free from cigarettes, they face a battle against a fierce addiction that is firmly rooted in their physiology and psychology. The nicotine that smokers inhale triggers reward mechanisms within the brain, and repeated exposure creates increased dependence on and cravings for nicotine, along with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that feed the desire to smoke, says Eduardo Velez Calderon, MD, FCCP, a pulmonologist with Pulmonary Associates and St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua.

Adding to the challenge, many smokers must abandon decades-old habits, such as smoking to relax, or lighting up with their morning coffee. Smokers can grow to fear the psychological and physiological withdrawal symptoms, Velez says, which contributes to the desire to smoke even after physical withdrawal symptoms have ended. Sadly, the longing for cigarettes can linger throughout a person’s life, Velez says.

Some smokers who want to reform find inspiration in today’s increased understanding of the danger that second- and third-hand smoke poses to the health of loved ones who spend time with smokers. Nonsmoking companions can inhale vapors or ingest particles from smoke that settle on fabric and other surfaces. Second- and third-hand smoke threaten the health of everyone, including infants, children and even pets. Among animals, small pets and animals that clean themselves, such as cats, are at particular risk, Masters says.

Regardless of whether your body is exposed to smoke through active or passive means, the physical effects “are essentially the same,” Velez says, and the length rather than the rate of exposure appears to be most meaningful in terms of health consequences. “Many people who smoke only a few cigarettes a day for many years have the same risk as patients who smoke a lot but only for a few years,” Velez says. “People think that because they smoke a little, they are at less risk, but the length of the smoking has a lot to do with problems [that develop],” he says.

Fortunately, people who want to quit can take advantage of an array of methods and tools, including nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gums and nasal sprays that help wean smokers from their deadly habit. Such aids “take the edge off uncomfortable physical feelings” that typically appear as withdrawal symptoms, Masters says.

However, nicotine replacement therapy is “not a magic wand,” Masters says. Smokers who try nicotine replacement, fail to quit and then go on to complain that “it” didn’t work need to adjust their expectations, Masters says. The purpose of nicotine replacement therapy is to lessen the discomfort of smokers who are going through the quitting process and to provide assistance in overcoming addiction to nicotine, which “is as serious a drug as any,” she says.

Of course, “you don’t have to use a smoking cessation aid to quit smoking,” Velez says, but the nicotine replacement tools “do help with controlling the withdrawal symptoms and the anxiety that comes with them.” Results vary, but in general, such aids improve the chance of success by at least 50 percent compared to not using anything, Velez says.

These days, some individuals turn to what they see as a new ally in the war against smoking: electronic cigarettes. Proponents believe that the nicotine-laced vapor produced by e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoke created by conventional cigarettes. But whether that is true remains open to debate and uncertainty. The e-cigarette industry is not regulated, so the ingredients in products can vary, Masters says. “What’s inside those cartridges is a question mark because there is no approval process and there is no manufacturing standard. It’s the Wild West for these things; you don’t really know what’s in that vapor,” unlike the patches and gums and other traditional nicotine-replacement aids, she says.

Indeed, “there is a lot of controversy” surrounding e-cigarettes, says Velez. “The nature of the chemicals that are present in e-cigarettes is not well known,” he says. “There could be a less harmful chemical brew” than what exists in traditional cigarettes, but with the current manufacturing and selling system, doctors and users can’t know whether that is the case. Smokers should keep in mind that manufacturers want to sell their products, Velez says, so not only might smokers who turn to e-cigarettes find that they are not able to end their nicotine addiction, it’s possible that the e-cigarettes they use might contain more nicotine than regular cigarettes, Velez says.   

Reasons to Quit

How bad is it? Here are some hard facts about smoking from the American Lung Association:

  • Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80 to 90 percent of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths.
  • Among current smokers, chronic lung disease accounts for 73 percent of smoking-related conditions. Even among smokers who have quit, chronic lung disease accounts for 50 percent of smoking-related conditions.
  • Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. It is a cause of coronary heart disease, stroke and a host of other cancers and diseases.
  • For more information, see

Smoking health infographic. For a text-version of the information displayed on the infographic, use the link after the image.

Quit smoking to start your year off right.

Every January 1, people all over the world make New Year's resolutions. If you're one of the nearly 7 out of 10 current U.S. smokers who want to quit, why not get started today? Smoking is still the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Quitting now can cut your risk for diseases caused by smoking and leave you feeling stronger and healthier.

Tiffany, a former smoker, found many benefits of quitting, such as tastier food and more energy. She describes some of the rewards that came to her when she quit in a video entitled "Surprising Things About Quitting" from CDC's Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign.

Most smokers who want to quit try several times before they succeed, but you can take steps that can improve your chances of quitting for good.

Develop a Quit Plan

Planning ahead is a major part of successfully quitting smoking. offers details on how to create an effective quit plan, including:

·         Picking a quit date. Starting the new year smokefree is a great idea.

·         Letting loved ones know you're quitting so they can support you.

·         Listing your reasons to quit smoking. See the "Smoking and Diabetes" ad featuring Bill—another former smoker who participated in the Tipscampaign—for advice on finding your reasons to quit.

·         Identifying triggers that make you want to smoke so you can avoid them, especially during the early days.

·         Having places you can turn to for immediate help, including the free resources listed below.

Use Free, Effective Resources

There are many free resources for people trying to quit smoking:

·         1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers). This free quitline offers a lot of resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.

·         Smokefree TXT. This free 24/7 program sends encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers quit smoking and stay quit. To get started, just text QUIT to 47848, answer a few questions, and you'll start receiving messages.

·         Online Help. This Tips From Former Smokers Web page provides additional helpful online quit resources,

·         Smokefree Apps, The free QuitSTART app, developed with teens in mind, can help track cravings and moods, monitor progress, and identify smoking triggers.

Find a Medication That Is Right for You

Because cigarettes contain nicotine, a powerfully addicting chemical, your body may feel uncomfortable until it adjusts. This is known as withdrawal, and there are medications that can help lessen this feeling and the urge to smoke. Studies show that smokers who use medicine to help control cravings, along with coaching from a quitline, in a group, or from a counselor, are much more likely to succeed than those who go it alone. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider before using any medications if you:

·         Are pregnant or nursing

·         Have a serious medical condition

·         Are currently using other medications

·         Are younger than 18 years of age

Many options are available if you are considering using medications to help you quit smoking. The most common smoking medications are nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), which give your body a little of the nicotine that it craves without the harmful chemicals found in burning cigarettes.Examples of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved NRTs that you can buy over the counter include:

·         Nicotine patches

·         Nicotine gum

·         Nicotine lozenges

NRTs that require a prescription include nicotine inhalers and nasal spray; your doctor can also prescribe medication that does not contain nicotine (such as bupropion or varenicline) to help you quit smoking completely.

As the start of a new year approaches, isn't now the perfect time to quit smoking? You can start 2015 as a healthier you by developing a quit plan, using free resources, and finding a smoking medication that is right for you. Even if you don't smoke yourself, you can use this article to help a friend or family member become smokefree in 2015!


Make No Mistake!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 26, 2014

Study: E-cigarettes damage healthy cells

ATLANTA -- More than 40 million Americans have used e-cigarettes, but a new study shows the liquid inside damages healthy cells and increases your risk of respiratory infections.

Researchers at National Jewish Health in Denver tested the liquid used in e-cigarettes, sometimes called e-liquid. They found the liquid quickly damaged healthy cells. Doctor Hong Wei Chu led the study. His team put cells from the airways of healthy, young, non-smokers in one end of a device and an e-cigarette in the other.

"It increased the level of viral infection inside the cells," Chu said. In fact, they found after just ten minutes of exposure, the cells were damaged. That damaged lasted 24 hours or longer. The study showed it didn't matter if the liquid contained nicotine or not, the liquid itself did the damage.

Researchers say the findings are especially troubling since some e-cigarettes are flavored to appeal to younger users. "When you flavor them that way, not only are they appealing, but, falsely, the user sees them as 'Oh, no big deal. They're not bad for me.'"

Over the next week, millions of Americans will make New Year's Resolutions to quit smoking. Many will turn to e-cigarettes as a method to help. Over the last year, as sales topped $3.5 million, concerns about safety are also on the rise. In July, the World Health Organization found there was not enough evidence to determine if electronic cigarettes really help people quit smoking. The World Lung Foundation is recommending tighter regulation of e-cigarettes due to those growing concerns.

In March 2010, The Elders of this site gave me the gift of their wisdom and Experience! They patiently EXplained to me how to save my LIFE and then gently guided me toward the path of SUCCESS! For this gift of LIFE I will be forever grateful! 

Since then, These strangers have invited me into their hearts and EX-Family and I have made more LIFE time Friends than I can count! I have also paid forward as much as I can to the others who came behind me in the best way I know how. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to do so!

Now, I find myself in the midst of a personal tragedy as I spend perhaps my last Holiday Season with my Best Friend, Kenny as he passes through last stages of CHF. I have since found out that he also has diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney falure as well. No, he did not smoke ever....he literally drank himself to his deathbed! I and a few close Firends are his Care Providers in his last days.

Therefore, I ask that you please forgive me for not addressing each of you individually with my heartfelt well wishes for a Very Happy Christmas Season and a Wonderful Smoke FREE 2015! Each of you, from those Elders, many of who still pour out their hearts to beginners and serial quitters to the newest member who just joined today have a Special place in my heart as well! 

The BEST LIFE you can give yourself is the gift of FREEDOM from Addiction! Be safe this Holiday Season, protect your lungs, heart, ....yes, your whole body Smoke FREE because Life is just Wonderful and way too short for self-destruction! 

God Bless You Everyone!

   Smokers who are unwilling or unable to quit smoking may benefit from using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for harm reduction. This may include the partial or complete substitution of cigarettes with NRT.
   A taxonomy of the characteristics of those using NRT for harm reduction would be helpful in tailoring advice and treatment. Although attempts to categorize those using NRT for harm reduction have been made, these have largely been based on quantitative data.
   In order to provide further in-depth exploration of views, beliefs and experiences, the current study probed issues surrounding NRT and harm reduction qualitatively to better understand barriers and facilitators to this approach. 
   Methods: Three groups of participants (n = 15) were recruited from a student sample: current smokers with a history of NRT use, smokers without a history of NRT use, and ex-smokers with a history of NRT use. Participants were asked about their demographic characteristics, smoking behaviours, intention and perceived ability to quit smoking, awareness and use of NRT, beliefs about the health consequences of using NRT, and the safety and efficacy of NRT, using semi-structured telephone interviews. 
   Results: Twenty-four themes were identified; these themes were clustered into three main issues of cross-cutting themes: attitudes towards smoking and motivation to quit; smoking reduction and quit attempts; and beliefs, use and concerns about NRT.
   Those with a history of NRT use were more motivated and engaged with the quitting process than non-users. However, irrespective of smoking status and past NRT use, all participants showed misperceptions about NRT, such as the health consequences associated with NRT use. 
   Conclusions: NRT users are more motivated to quit smoking than non-users and are more likely to employ techniques to assist their cessation attempts.
   The majority of smokers have misperceptions regarding the safety and efficacy of NRT which may act as a barrier to its usage.
   Author: Kabay SillaEmma BeardLion Shahab
   Credits/Source: BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1311

As an ex-smoker, you’ll have urges to smoke. Sometimes the urges are physical, as if your body needs a cigarette. At other times, they’ll be mental — feeling like you deserve a cigarette. And sometimes you may want to smoke because it’s a habit.


Physical urges

As a smoker, you became addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine can create good feelings that make you want to smoke more. But it also creates bad feelings when you try to cut back. Physical urges are one way your body tells you it wants nicotine. This “craving” for nicotine is part of the withdrawal process, along with symptoms such as headaches and feeling tired or lightheaded. These symptoms go away after one or two weeks, but the urges may keep coming for a while. As time passes, you’ll have fewer physical urges to smoke.

Tip: Time your smoking urges. They will probably last a minute or less.


Mental urges

Did you used to reach for a cigarette when you were nervous? Or to help you relax? Or as a reward? If so, you may still want a cigarette at those times.



Smoking is a habit you can change. You learned to use cigarettes to feel “normal.” Now you must retrain yourself. In time, you’ll feel normal without cigarettes.

  • Identify triggers. Think about times when you want a cigarette.
  • Select coping skills. How will you cope with each of your trigger situations?
  • Put your plan into action. Review the plan, practice and be ready to act when you feel an urge to smoke.

Put your plan into action
Review your plans and prepare to use them.

  • Do you need to stock up on anything such as gum, hard candies, healthy snacks, books, videos or projects?
  • Is there anyone you want to talk with about your plans?
  • Is there anything you can practice? Try out the tips you chose to see if they work for you.

Off Topic

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 14, 2014

Cannabis users 'have lungs of 80-year-olds': Doctors warn people are turning up at A&E with new form of emphysema after using drug for less than ten years 

  Many, who are just in their 30s, are in need of long-term oxygen therapy

  Cannabis-tobacco mix damaging because often smoked without filter

  Emphysema normally caused by tobacco and usually occurs late in life

Cannabis smokers in their 30s have lungs so badly damaged that they look like an 80 year old’s, doctors have warned.

They say that young adults who have smoked cannabis for less than a decade are turning up at A&E with a severe, rapid and advanced form of the lung disease emphysema.

Some are in their 30s and in some cases their lungs are so badly damaged that they are put on long-term oxygen therapy.

One patient, studied in Ysbyty Gwynedd, a hospital in Bangor, north Wales, is waiting for a lung transplant, a British Thoracic Society conference heard.

Emphysema, in which the millions of tiny air sacs in the lungs are gradually damaged, is normally caused by tobacco and usually occurs late in life.

It is thought the cannabis-tobacco mixture found in joints is more damaging because they are often smoked without a filter. Cannabis smokers also tend to inhale for longer and much of the cannabis on sale today is much stronger than in the past.

Dr Damian Mckeon, a consultant in respiratory medicine at Ysbyty Gwynedd, who studied eight patients who had smoked at least five joints a day, said: ‘We are seeing young people on the wards with the lungs of 80 year olds after less than a decade of smoking cannabis and tobacco.

‘Our study was in a rural region of North Wales but we believe these cases may represent the tip of the iceberg.

‘Cannabis is far stronger these days and we are seeing the emergence of a new severe form of emphysema – which could lead to people struggling for breath for the rest of their life.

‘We urgently need a detailed study across the UK which analyses the national picture of cannabis-use and lung disease.’

Dr Bernard Higgins, of the British Thoracic Society, said: ‘This study is yet another small but persuasive piece of a jigsaw pointing to a real danger of regularly smoking joints.

‘The Government should monitor this emerging evidence carefully and take it into account when considering future drugs and smoking policy.’

Young adults who have smoked cannabis for less than a decade are turning up at A&E with a severe, rapid and advanced form of the lung disease emphysema (pictured)




I respect the Gift of LIFE that the Lord has given me!

I honor myself and my Family by not smoking!

I look forward to another Year Smoke FREE!

57 Years and counting.... 

I remember when 57 seemed so old!

Now it seems so young! 


Many people who quit smoking gain 10 pounds, but not you.

TK Baltimore (pronounced "Teak"), 34, a Web developer who lives in New York City, smoked for nearly 20 years. She's lost track of how many times she tried to quit. Here, she shares how she quit smoking without weight gain, and how you can do it too.

Like a lot of people who smoke, I didn't have the most healthy lifestyle. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with extremely high cholesterol. My doctor told me that he could put me on medication, or I could try seeing if it was lifestyle-related by eating healthier and getting exercise. Considering high cholesterol didn't run in my family and I knew what my lifestyle was like, I decided to try making some healthy changes, and that included quitting smoking. 

I got advice from a nutritionist about cleaning up my diet without wanting to die. For example, I added a lot of whole grains to my diet -- brown rice, whole-wheat pasta. And I started sharing the yolks of my eggs with my dog when I made an omelet in the morning. But the biggest part was exercise. I had been completely sedentary -- the only exercise I got was a ski trip once a year and walking around Manhattan. So I started going to the gym three or four days a week, doing weight training and cardio.


Another thing that was important: When I quit smoking, I avoided the bars, and I wasn't getting all those calories from alcohol! I actually managed to lose about 20 pounds while quitting smoking, and I've kept most of it off. I have to be honest, though. … I've definitely backslid with stopping smoking. It's hard, because my husband smokes too. We quit together, and when he started again, it was hard for me not to. It's really an ongoing process.


Why It's Hard to Quit Smoking Without Weight Gain

On average, people who quit smoking gain about 10 pounds, according to Trina Ita, Quitline counseling supervisor for the American Cancer Society.

Weight gain while quitting smoking can be traced to two factors.

·         First, you eat more. If you're not smoking, you want to put something else in your mouth. Since you now can smell and taste food better, things like sugary and sweet foods become very attractive. 

·         The second reason is metabolic. "Nicotine increases the metabolic rate. When you stop smoking, your metabolic rate decreases," explains Lirio Covey, PhD, director of the smoking cessation program at Columbia University in New York.


Top Tip for Stopping Smoking Without Weight Gain: Exercise More!

One of the best ways to avoid weight gain while quitting smoking is just what Baltimore did: amp up the exercise. "When you stop smoking, you can breathe better, walk better, run better," says Covey. "Take advantage of that!"

Exercise also has the additional benefit of helping you burn off the nervous energy many smokers struggle with when they quit. Studies show that people who exercise while quitting smoking gain much less weight, and are twice as likely to kick the habit as those who don't.

More Smoking-Cessation Secrets: Plan Ahead and Drink Lots of Water

Besides eating a healthy diet and exercising more, here are some other tips to help you avoid gaining the "kick the habit 10":

·         Plan ahead. "Some of my patients, when they know they're going to quit, start improving their diet and exercise ahead of time so that they're not already at a really high weight when they quit," says Covey. 

·         Find something else to do with your mouth. Keep sugar-free hard candies, gum (nicotine gum if you like), or Tic Tacs in your car, purse, and coat. Crunching on a carrot when you feel like a cigarette or a snack will keep your mouth busy without adding calories. 

·         If you're keeping a "smoking journal," track your cravings to eat just as you track your cravings to smoke, and identify replacement activities (a walk, a run, a video game, playing with the dog). 

·         Drink plenty of water. Being hydrated will boost your metabolism, while at the same time helping you beat back the craving to smoke. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day.

Hello, EX-Family! 

Although I miss being here regularly with you my time is well spent with my friend Kenny! He is most likely looking at his last holiday season at the age of 52. Kenny has last stage CHF and needs 24 hr care which I and other friends are providing for him. 

So this is a sad time for us - but also a happy time! That's what I keep in mind for both our sakes! we can feel both simultaneously! We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with only 1200 calories - no sugar, low fat, and absolutely no salt! 

Now we're enjoying a very grateful Christmas Season! For my family, Christmas has never been about gifts (except for the little ones.) It's about Celebrating the marvelous gift Our Lord has given us for a chance at a new eternal life of peace and happiness. These themes have fit in well with Kenny's planned move from one world into another better world! 

We sing, laugh, cry, joke, surmise about the afterlife - we imagine!

So yes, I'm very sad - but also glad to be here with Kenny today and every day of his last year!

And I always remember to take care of me first! I know that I can't be a good friend if I don't keep myself in good shape physically and mentally!

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts that help sustain me during these trying days. Your support keeps my mind and heart clear making me a better care provider! 

Here's an article on Motivation that might help folks in their early days of this incredible quit journey:

Smoking and Motivation: Exploring Why Helps Smokers Quit

Smoking has long been acknowledged as an unhealthy behavior that is difficult to change, yet it can be successfully treated in part through a counseling technique called motivational interviewing, which helps smokers quit by exploring why they smoke, why they want to quit, and why they may have trouble quitting. As a technique, motivational interviewing encourages personal empowerment as a driver of change instead of enumerating medical and scientific facts to justify change.

Smoking is an unquestionably risky health behavior, yet nearly 1 out of 5 adults in the United States continue to smoke. While disease statistics and medical facts support a logical rationale for stopping smoking, this type of information may not represent a compelling motivation for some individuals to take action and stop smoking. At least one study has shown that less than ten percent of people who say they would like to quit are able to do so without help.

Motivations to stop smoking vary from person to person, and being in touch with the main personal reason behind wanting to be smoke-free can spell success or failure for any individual trying to quit. A 2014 study on the role of primary care physicians in bladder cancer prevention indicated that smokers are aware of the risks of their smoking behavior and may benefit from additional help in leveraging factual information into psychological motivation to change their behavior. Motivational interviewing is one tool that can provide that leverage.

Motivational interviewing is a non-aggressive, non-confrontational, counseling technique that encourages self-confidence and guides smokers toward choosing for themselves to make a change by helping them explore and resolve uncertainties related to the change. Motivational interviewing was originally developed as a treatment for alcohol abuse, but it has been shown to be successful in other situations, such as smoking cessation, where behavior change is the goal.

Most health behavior experts agree that motivation is an important component of making any significant lifestyle change. Some change management experts argue that motivation is an inherent quality in every individual that simply needs to be identified.

The lifestyle change that is required to stop smoking requires a high level of motivation, which varies from person to person. This individual variation, is, in part, why motivational interviewing is such a useful tool, because it helps individual smokers explore what motivates them, personally, to quit.

According to an article on motivational interviewing in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, one of the core tenets of motivational interviewing is that the motivation to change becomes most powerful when the patient, not the practitioner, articulates the personal benefits and costs of making the change. Motivational interviewing is based on building a collaborative relationship between the smoker and the health care provider, in which judgment, friction, and conflict do not exist.

Numerous scientific and behavioral studies have shown that pharmaceutical treatments, such as nicotine replacement therapy, are more effective when combined with behavioral support, of which motivational interviewing is one example. These same studies show that the most successful means of helping people stop smoking is the combined pharmaceutical-behavioral approach. Precisely why these combinations are so effective is still being studied, meanwhile, exploring the motivations that help smokers quit can be worthwhile when the process gets results.

A 2011 Cochrane database summary found that the motivational interviewing technique was effective both when used by trained counselors and by primary care providers and that the most effective sessions lasted longer than 20 minutes each. The same study showed that two or more sessions of motivational interviewing offered more successful outcomes than one-time encounters. Researchers believe that motivational interviewing performed in multiple sessions over time may be so effective because it provides a useful tool for helping smokers move through any stage of change they happen to be in, whether that stage is a complete lack of awareness of the need for change, a sincere desire to change, the process of taking action and adjusting to maintenance behavior, or the introspective work of recovering from a relapse.

Additional evidence indicates that providing ongoing behavioral support, such as motivational interviewing, can significantly increase smoking cessation success rates. Whether the additional support is provided in person or by telephone, a 2012 systematic review of scientific studies showed that increasing the amount of behavioral support could increase the chance of success in stopping smoking by up to 25 percent.

Smoking is known to be the largest single cause of preventable death worldwide. Not only does smoking cause numerous forms of cancer, including bladder cancer, but smoking also increases the risk of cancer recurrence. While facts alone may not be sufficient to motivate certain individuals to stop smoking, motivational interviewing can provide smokers with a means for exploring why they are motivated to make a change and what is the best plan to help them quit.

By Lane Therrell



Under the Hood

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 4, 2014

Changes In Working Memory Among The Effects of Quitting Smoking, May Predict Relapse

A new study shows how quitting smoking sets off a series of changes in the brain so that researchers can predict which smokers will relapse. 

Ask any smoker: Quitting cigarettes is hard work. But because the life-saving benefits are worth it, many researchers are doing their best to understand the process well enough to properly hack it — to make it easier for anyone willing to attempt it. A new study from researchers at Penn Medicine shows how quitting sets off a series of changes in the brain so they can predict, with greater accuracy than any current method, which smokers will relapse. In fact, unlike smokers who quit successfully, those who relapse within one week show specific disruptions in their brain's working memory system during their brief period of abstinence.

"The neural response to quitting even after one day can give us valuable information that could inform new and existing personalized intervention strategies for smokers, which is greatly needed," said Dr. James Loughead, associate professor of Psychiatry and lead author of the study, in a press release

This is the Prize

They say nobody likes a quitter, but smoking is the one instance where this is simply not true. Not only is smoking a waste of your precious cash, there are real benefits to letting go of the nasty habit, including these health prizes:

  1. You will lower your risk of lung cancer and many other types of cancer.
  3. Your will risk of heart disease, stroke, and vascular disease decreases.
  5. You will lessen the risk of developing coronary heart disease within just one to two years after quitting.
  7. Your coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath will decline or in some cases end.

While smoking in the United States is at an all-time low for adults, there are still 42 million Americans, teens, and young adults among them, who continue to smoke. Remember, a healthier life means an easier life. Being sick is difficult. It’s never too late to give up the cancer sticks and improve your health.

For the current study, the research team gathered 80 participants between the ages of 18 and 65 who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day for more than six months. Next, the participants underwent brain scans (functional MRIs) so that the researchers could explore the effects of brief abstinence from smoking on working memory and its relationship to brain activity. The first fMRI session occurred immediately after each participant smoked while the second transpired 24 hours after a trial period of abstinence.

Following this, the participants began counselling and set a future quit date for themselves. Exactly seven days after that target date, the researchers visited each participant to assess their smoking behavior — and to conduct a urine test. Past research suggests quitters who remain tobacco-free after seven days will likely remain that way for six months, if not longer.

So how did our quitters do? Of the 80 smokers, 61 relapsed and 19 quit successfully at the one-week mark, the researchers reported.

Looking at the brain scans, the researchers noticed the smokers who relapsed (compared to those who quit) had decreased activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which controls executive functions, including working memory. Working memory is an essential cognitive function necessary for staying focused, blocking distractions, and completing tasks. Participants who relapsed also had a boost in their brain’s default mode network, which is more active when people are in a so-called "introspective" state.

"This is the first time abstinence-induced changes in the working memory have been shown to accurately predict relapse in smokers," said Dr. Caryn Lerman, a professor of psychiatry and director of Penn's Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction, in the press release. Having pinpointed these areas of neural change, researchers may use them as therapeutic targets in future experiments with the hopes that a more personalized approach can help people who want to quit the dangerous habit of smoking.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: