Tag Archives: smoking study

New Zealand, Clearly Becoming Smoke-Free

If you want to stop smoking then pack your bag and fly over to New Zealand.

While you are there New Zealand tobacco regulatory agencies will offer you the facts on smoking dangers and by 2017 you may have to leave the country to buy tobacco products.

New Zealand is one of the many countries incorporating smoking bans, and like Canada they are banning smoking in your car.

Under the Influence While Driving

In New Zealand now you could be fined for smoking while driving in your car.

If you are a cigarette smoker you may be asking, “Do they fine people if they are not driving, but just sitting by the side of the road with the car ignition off?”

Or you might even ask, “Is there a smoking airbag that will explode if I am smoking in my car?”

Seriously, it does matter if you smoke while driving. You are polluting the air around you with second hand smoke. Windows up, windows down; it doesn’t matter.

Passengers who are riding with you including young children are also subject to your second hand smoke that could lead to potential harm, like contributing to asthma and other bronchial ailments.

It’s a Matter of Respecting Others


Young children are more at risk for these ailment because their lungs, like the rest of their bodies are still in the development stage.

The casual cigarette puff near a crib where an infant may be sleeping has been known to result in Sudden Death Syndrome. Children’s lungs actually take in more air because they breathe faster. They are unable to turn away from the smoke and of course infants do not know how harmful the smoke from tobacco is or even what it is.

A child who is around an adult smoker might draw closer to the lite cigarette because it is something new and their curious minds want to investigate. They do not know any better.

Adults may not want to smell your second hand smoke either. Many people are polite and will tolerate the fumes when they accompany you walking, driving or riding in a car.

Also, think about it. Many friends will endure second hand smoke before offending you. You might ask how you will feel if in time they suddenly fall victim of an unexplained bronchial infection, cancer, and other ailments that are known to be smoker related.

New Zealand’s Stop Regulations and Initiative

If we take the initiative and see what’s working for the people of New Zealand, (we are not saying they are doing everything right) we might learn something. Their smoking rates are considerably lower than those in other countries, including the US.

Why not concentrate on more aggressive efforts to teach our kids not to smoke. How about becoming a good example by not smoking nor exposing our children to friends who still smoke. These three actions would be a good start.

Paying higher premiums for healthcare services could also be a major game changer to help smokers quit.

New Zealand is on the right track to help smoking statistics drop in their country, which will in turn improve the quality of life for everyone. In fact, on September 5th,  2007, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in New Zealand called for the removal of tobacco from sale by 2017.

Bigger Belly May Up Smokers’ Lung Cancer Risk

Reuters Health – Smokers who carry more weight around their waistlines may be at greater risk of lung cancer, according to a new study.

The finding, along with the fact that lung cancer risk is actually higher among leaner smokers, provides “intriguing” evidence that how a smoker stores fat could play a role in his or her likelihood of developing lung cancer, Dr. Geoffrey C. Kabat of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, told Reuters Health.

Several studies have found that a lower body mass index (BMI) means a higher lung cancer risk among smokers. “Reflex explanations” for the link include the fact that smokers are skinnier than non-smokers, Kabat noted in an interview, as well as the tendency for people to gain weight after they quit smoking.

Another proposed mechanism for the relationship is that people lose weight when they develop lung cancer.

But careful analysis of the data doesn’t bear out these explanations, Kabat said. To better understand the relationship, he and his colleagues looked at data from the Women’s Health Initiative.

Over the course of 8 years, 1,365 of the study’s 161,809 participants developed lung cancer. When the researchers looked at BMI after adjusting for weight circumference, they found that both smokers and ex-smokers with lower BMIs had a greater lung cancer risk.

But when they looked at waist circumference independent of BMI, they found that a larger waistline conferred a greater likelihood of lung cancer for smokers and ex-smokers. There was no relationship between BMI or waist circumference and lung cancer risk among never-smokers.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, must be confirmed by other investigators, and don’t offer any clues on the mechanism behind the relationship, Kabat noted.

belly fatHowever, he speculated, “it may have to do with the storage, the mobilization, and the metabolization of carcinogens. These carcinogens … tend to be stored in fat tissue. That may play a role in the development of lung cancer. It may be that it’s linked to smoking but that it plays a role on top of smoking.”

He added: “We’re not ready to give people advice, because overall the advice would not be changed. We’re not advocating that people lose weight so that they have a lower risk of lung cancer. Smoking is so far and away the dominant risk factor.”

News Source: American Journal of Epidemiology, July 15, 2008.

Anne Harding, Cancerpage.com

Antioxidants May Protect Smokers from Lung Cancer

Healthnotes Newswire Article Reports

Smoking generates free radicals in the body, causing cell damage that can sometimes lead to cancer.

A study found that smokers might protect themselves from developing lung cancer by eating foods that are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids.

Quit Smoking Now — The Best Bet for Better Health

Smoking increases the risk for several cancers and heart disease, in addition to causing emphysema and other chronic airway diseases.

People who quit smoking lower their chances of developing these diseases and can actually repair some of the damage that smoking has caused.

If quitting smoking proves an insurmountable task, though, there are some things that smokers can do that may help protect them from the effects of cigarette smoke.

Flavonoids—Nature’s Cancer Fighters

Flavonoids are plant-derived compounds that are capable of scavenging free radicals in the body.

Studies have shown that flavonoids have anticancer properties, but most of these trials have used amounts of flavonoids much higher than those typically found in the diet.

The new study, published in the journal Cancer, aimed to determine if flavonoids could protect against lung cancer in smokers and nonsmokers, by comparing the amount and types of flavonoids eaten by 558 people with lung cancer and 837 healthy people.

Smokers who ate more of certain flavonoids called catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and kaempferol, as well as more vegetables, tea, and wine were less likely to develop lung cancer than smokers who ate less of these flavonoids and foods.

Surprisingly, the protective effect of these foods and flavonoids was not seen among nonsmokers. “These results may reflect the finding that these flavonoid compounds are strong antioxidants against free radicals generated by tobacco smoking,” said the authors.

green teaDr. Lise Alschuler, author of Alternative Medicine Magazine’s Definitive Guide to Cancer, 2nd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing, commented, “These findings underscore the significant anticancer properties of flavonoids. Even a relatively small amount of dietary flavonoids exerted significant effects. This effect was most obvious in smokers likely due to the fact that smokers are typically severely depleted in antioxidants and have high exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.”

So where do you find lung-healthy flavonoids?

Benefits of Green and Black Tea

  • Epicatechin and catechin are plentiful in green and black teas, with lesser amounts in chocolate, grapes, and apricots. To boost the flavonoid power of tea, add lemon juice before drinking.
  • The main sources of quercetin and kaempferol are apples and red onions.

(Cancer 2008;112:2241–8)

Source:  Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, Healthnotes

Genetic Achilles Heel May Support Nicotine Addiction

Do genes play a role in tobacco addiction?

Recent studies suggest they may, particularly the CHRNA5 gene.

A University of Michigan press release notes a genetic variation suggests a finding that may help explain the path that leads from that first cigarette to lifelong smoking.

In the press release studies smokers and non-smokers to find if you have the less common rs16969968 form of the CHRNA5 gene and you smoke a cigarette you are more likely to get hooked.

Yet another reduction in the possible scope for free will.

Study on Genetics, Genes and Smoking

In a paper published in the September Issue of the journal Addiction, a multi-university collaborative team of researchers specializing in statistical genetics, gene analysis, and trait analysis reports an association between a variant in the CHRNA5 nicotine receptor gene, initial smoking experiences, and current smoking patterns.

The genetic and smoking data come from 435 volunteers. Those who never smoked had tried at least one cigarette but no more than 100 cigarettes in their lives, and never formed a smoking habit. The regular smokers had smoked at least five cigarettes a day for at least the past five years.

The regular smokers in the study were far more likely than the never-smokers to have the less common rs16969968 form of the CHRNA5 gene, in which just one base-pair in the gene sequence was different from the more common form. This kind of genetic variation is called a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP.

Smokers were also eight times as likely to report that their first cigarettes gave them a pleasurable buzz.

“It appears that for people who have a certain genetic makeup, the initial physical reaction to smoking can play a significant role in determining what happens next,” says senior author and project leader, Ovide Pomerleau, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and founder of the U-M Nicotine Research Laboratory.

“If cigarette smoking is sustained, nicotine addiction can occur in a few days to a few months,” he adds. “The finding of a genetic association with pleasurable early smoking experiences may help explain how people get addicted — and, of course, once addicted, many will keep smoking for the rest of their lives.”Among those who ever try smoking this gene explains only part of the difference between those who become addicted and those who do not. Expect more discoveries of genes that contribute to the odds of getting addicted.

Achilles HeelWe are witnessing an acceleration of the rate of discovery of genetic factors that influence behavior. This acceleration in the rate of discovery will accelerate as DNA testing costs continue to drop. So expect to see many more reports of genes that influence behavior.

Source: Randall Parker, FuturePundit

Progress Has Been Made in Cutting Nicotine Risks, but Exposure Remains Problem for Nonsmokers

Nearly half of America’s non smokers are sucking in fumes from tobacco products.

And that’s the good news!

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control showed that 46 percent of nonsmokers had signs of nicotine in their bodies during blood tests conducted between 1999 and 2004.

That is down significantly from 84 percent when similar tests were conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But CDC researchers emphasize that this is no reason for celebration – not with statistics showing that exposure to secondhand smoke increases nonsmoking adults’ risk of lung cancer by at least 20 percent and their odds of heart disease by at least 25 percent.

“It’s still too high,” research Cynthia Marano told The Associated Press. “There is no safe level of exposure.”

Moreover, there was little change regarding the exposure of children ages 4 to 11 to secondhand smoke. That percentage stands at 60 percent, and CDC officials note this greatly increases children’s chances of respiratory illnesses and ear problems. In babies, the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome also increases.

Officials attributed the overall decline in the exposure rate of nonsmokers to the growing number of laws banning smoking workplaces, bars, restaurants and other public settings.

The CDC study’s findings justify the public indoor smoking legislation that will go into effect in September in Pennsylvania, virtually nullifying the argument that these bans usurp proprietors’ and individuals’ rights. Indoor smoking creates a public health issue for others and contributes to rising health care and insurance costs for everyone.

It’s good to see at least some progress being made, but to paraphrase that old cigarette commercial, “we’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

Source: The Patriot News

The Sooner You Quit Smoking, the Better Your Chances of Recovery

Studies suggest that ex-smokers may face increased health risks from cigarettes for years to come.

Some of the damage that cigarettes inflict on the body subsides quickly, halving the risk of heart disease and stroke within five years after a smoker quits.

But the effect of smoking on risks of cancer and other diseases can persist for decades, experts say.

Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), 71, who quit smoking in 1980, still faces some increased risk of cancer from smoking two packs a day for 25 years, studies suggest.

President Barack Obama (D-Ill.), 46, who says he has struggled to stay off cigarettes since quitting last year, may have less long-term risk because he smoked fewer cigarettes per day.

Better to Quit Smoking When Still Young

A major message of the research is that people who quit at a young age are far better off than those who put it off until later.

Obama and McCain, both of whom waited until their mid-40s to quit, would have been measurably better off if they had stopped a decade sooner, experts said.

Young Girl Smoking“If you quit by age 35, by the time you’re 45 you look pretty much like a never-smoker in most of our profiles of risk,” said Terry Pechacek, associate director for science at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s office on smoking and health.

The danger intensifies as smokers approach their 30th year of addiction, Pechacek said.

The risk of getting lung cancer for a person who has smoked for 30 years can be six times greater than the risk for someone who has smoked for 20 years.

Some of smoking’s effects may be irreversible. For example, the chronic bronchitis that many smokers develop heals only partially. And quitting cigarettes often has little effect on emphysema, which stems from the damage that cigarette smoke can cause in the lung’s fine structures.

“That stuff doesn’t repair itself,” said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.

Getting other risks down to normal can take time. A study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that among women who smoked for 20 years on average, it took 30 years after quitting for their risk of lung cancer to reach normal levels.

Yet heart disease risks declined much more rapidly, the study found. Within five years of quitting, the excess risk from smoking had fallen by 61 percent.

“Clearly there are immediate benefits for some diseases,” said study co-author Stacey Kenfield, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s never too late to stop.”

Cancer risks are more difficult to get back to normal because of how that disease progresses in the body, experts said.
Genetic damage

Each cigarette has the potential to inflict small bits of genetic damage that can accumulate over time and cause cancer later in a smoker’s life. The longer a person smokes, the more cells get damaged, and the longer it takes for the body’s repair mechanisms to remove the damaged cells.

Smoking is Like Climbing a Mountain

Pechacek of the CDC compared the process to climbing a mountain; smoking more cigarettes takes a person farther up the slope. “If you smoke too long, [you] may not have enough years left to get back down to the base,” he said.

One measure of an ex-smoker’s risk is expressed in “pack-years,” the number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years a smoker was addicted. McCain, who smoked two packs a day for 25 years, would have about 50 pack-years, while Obama, who smoked less than one pack a day for about as long, would have fewer than 25 pack-years.

Smoking Risk Calculator

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has posted an online lung cancer prediction calculator (at mskcc.org/mskcc/html/12463.cfm) that uses pack-years and other information to assess an ex-smoker’s risk of developing cancer. Some researchers have debated the usefulness of pack-years in such predictions, arguing that overall duration of smoking matters more than the number of cigarettes smoked.

Like many smokers who try to kick the addiction, Obama says he has suffered smoking relapses since first attempting to quit last year. Such setbacks are less important than the ultimate goal, Pechacek said.

“Usually it takes three or four quits before a person is successful,” he said. “We need to stop looking at those as failures, because really they’re steps toward success. You’re building the skills you need to quit.”

Source:  Jeremy Manier – Chicago Tribune

Quitting Smoking is a Pack Behavior

Smokers tend to quit in groups, according to a new study.

One person who quits can have ripple effects across his or her entire social network, prompting others to kick the habit.

The New York Times offers this delightfully evocative explanation of how the process works:

As the investigators watched the smokers and their social networks, they saw what they said was a striking effect — smokers had formed little social clusters and, as the years went by, entire clusters of smokers were stopping en masse. So were clusters of clusters that were only loosely connected.

Dogs in a FieldStudy co-author Dr. Nicholas Christakis described watching the vanishing clusters as like lying on your back in a field, looking up at stars that were burning out. “It’s not like one little star turning off at a time,” he said. “Whole constellations are blinking off at once.”

Continue Reading About the Stop Smoking Ripple Effect

A Bachelor’s Degree for Quitting Smoking?

For Nora King, a former chain-smoker with a master’s degree, it was neither a harrowing visit to her doctor nor a disturbing news article on the latest findings about the damage of cigarettes that caused her to put down her smokes once and for all.

It was a television commercial she saw a year ago in her New York City apartment that vividly illustrated what goes on inside a smoker’s body that made her decide to try to quit though a new study suggests the academic work she did years ago may have helped, too.

“The commercial showed the white stuff that builds up in smokers’ arteries,” King, 44, said. “It was really graphic and gross, and I would turn my head every time it came on.”

Visual images in stop-smoking ads have been a mainstay of stop smoking campaigns for years, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin recently found they may be more effective helping those with a college degree than those with a high school diploma or only some college.

“Smoking rates have declined steadily since 1966 for college-educated smokers with some college, but they have declined far more slowly for people who have high school, and we wanted to know why that is,” said Dr. Jeff Niederdeppe, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin’s department of population health sciences and an author of the study.

Cigarette smoking has declined among adults in the United States from about 42 percent of the population in 1965 to about 21 percent in 2005 (the latest year for which numbers are available), according to the American Cancer Society. Figures from the society’s Web site show that about 45 million adults currently smoke cigarettes – and 24 percent of men and 18 percent of women are smokers.

For their study, Niederdeppe’s team interviewed a representative sample of smokers: some who had a college degree, some who had some college experience, and some who had a high school diploma.The smokers all saw stop smoking ads, and a year later, the research team then came back and interviewed the same group to see who had tried to quit and who had been able to quit in that period.

“Some type of media messages were less effective for people with lower levels of education,” Nierderdeppe said, “but we weren’t able to say definitively why that is.”

He said that the greatest discrepancy between groups trying to quit occurred based on the type of ad that encouraged the smoker to keep trying to quit, even though it’s hard, and they can call a helpline for support.

“We saw a big difference between education levels for the keep-trying-to-quit ads,” Niederdeppe said.

A reason Americans without a college degree responded less to the stop smoking ads is because education is tied to socioeconomic status and less-educated smokers may have less access to quit resources and may be less likely to be given medications to quit, Niederdeppe said.

The essence of the ads that college-educated smokers responded to, “If you keep trying to quit, you can do it,” may not be true for smokers who are in a lower socioeconomic status, said Niederdeppe.

“This message may not resonate with their experience,” he said. “Higher educated people have much more resources, social resources, and environments that restrict smoking.”

Nancy DiMartino, 61, who has some college but no degree, said commercials haven’t helped her quit.

“There’s an old saying: nothing scares an addict,” she said.

Picture of Graduation CapDiMartino, a former transcribing legal secretary who took several college credits to become certified, said, cigarettes help her deaden her emotions, so she’s out the door to the store to buy cigarettes as soon as she feels a negative emotion coming on.

“Cigarettes numb me out like alcohol does for an alcoholic, or drugs do for a drug addict,” she said.

Although her father died of emphysema, DiMartino said that the powerful chokehold nicotine has on her, physically as well as mentally, has made quitting a seemingly impossible task.

She successfully managed to quit for five years, but it didn’t last. One recent Christmas Eve, after she lost her job with a government agency, she was mugged.

The stress proved to be too much, and DiMartino picked up where she had left off.

Even when one of her grandchildren saw her smoking and began to cry, begging her to stop smoking, she has been unable to leave the habit behind for a second time.

DiMartino knows what kind of danger she is putting herself in by continuing to smoke.

“I have carpal tunnel syndrome and it’s getting worse,” she said. “I know I could wind up on an oxygen tank. But whenever I see those ads, I think that this could never happen to me,” she said.

Source: The Modesto Bee
Original source: Jessica Freiman, Columbia News Service

Toddlers Most Affected by Second Hand Smoke

Second hand smoke in the home appears to induce markers for heart disease as early as the toddler years.

Researchers reported this news at the American Heart Association 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in March.

It has long been known that many forms of cardiovascular disease in adults are initiated and progress silently during childhood. Now researchers have found a young child’s response to smoke may not just affect the respiratory system, but the cardiovascular system as well.

“This is the first study that looks at the response of a young child’s cardiovascular system to secondhand smoke,” said Judith Groner, MD, lead author of the study, pediatrician and ambulatory care physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Research Institute in Columbus, OH.The study included 128 children, 2 to 5 years old and adolescents between the ages of 9 and 14. Researchers found that the younger children absorbed six times more nicotine than the older children from the same levels of parental smoking. That exposure resulted in a dramatic increase of markers of inflammation and vascular injury signaling damage to the endothelium, the inner lining of the vessel walls.

Hair samples of the younger children had average nicotine levels of 12.68 nanograms per milligram of hair compared to adolescent group, which had 2.57 nanograms per milligram of hair. Toddlers had significantly higher levels of the inflammatory marker soluble intracellular adhesion molecules (ICAM).

“Toddlers in the homes of smokers not only had higher levels of nicotine, but also had higher levels of markers for cardiovascular disease in the blood,” said John Bauer, PhD, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “The dose of smoke is greater in toddlers than adolescents who are able to move in and out of the home. Toddlers are like a fish in a fishbowl. They are exposed at a higher dose. And it appears that toddlers also are more susceptible to the cardiovascular effects of smoke.”

Toddlers and a Fish BowlMost of the children in the study had varying levels of secondhand smoke exposure, measured by the number of adult smokers a child was exposed to in 24 hours. Researchers took hair samples to determine nicotine levels in the body and drew blood to determine endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) levels by flow cytometry. Endothelial progenitor cells replenish the endothelium and serve as a biological marker for vascular function.

Researchers also measured known inflammatory markers, such as ICAM, in the blood. “When we analyzed our data by looking at the relationships between the number of smokers in the home and the EPC levels, we found that in toddlers, there was an inverse relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and EPC prevalence,” Dr. Groner said. “In other words, the more smokers the toddler was exposed to, the fewer EPC cells were circulating in his bloodstream. This relationship was not present among the adolescents.”

The vascular endothelium (the inner lining of arteries and blood vessels) plays a key role in promoting cardiovascular health by maintaining the tone and circulation of the arteries. ICAM is a specific marker of endothelial cell stress, which contributes to artery clogging and atherosclerosis, raising the risk of heart disease.

“The combustion of the cigarettes appears to be causing endothelial damage which is reflected in the increase in soluble ICAM in exposed children,” Dr. Groner stated. “Toddlers who are in the vicinity of smokers in the home have a higher dose of tobacco chemicals. They live at home and can’t escape. Young children also breathe faster, taking more smoke into their respiratory system.”

Past studies found that the levels of EPC are lower in adult smokers. EPCs have not been studied previously in non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

This study indicates that cardiovascular effects of tobacco exposure in children are very similar to that of adults in the affect on the vascular wall, Dr. Groner said.

She noted the study is a “snapshot in time” and doesn’t give a long-term picture of the effects of secondhand smoke on the developing cardiovascular system of children.

“The results are intriguing, but further study is needed,” she said. “We’re not sure what happens to kids if they stay in a smoking environment or if they have multiple risk factors such as being overweight or having high blood pressure. Until then, parents and others should not smoke in homes with children, and should be especially attentive to this issue around toddlers.”

Other study authors were: Hong Huang, MD, PhD; Lisa Nicholson, PhD; Danielle Frock; Catherine Schroeder; and Jennifer Kuck, ACSM.

The Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) funded the study.

Source: Advance

Future of Nicotine Levels in Cigarettes Uncertain

Washington – The Food and Drug Administration may soon have the ability to regulate sales, distribution and advertising of tobacco products, but it would not be allowed to require removal of nicotine from cigarettes.

Nicotine, the most addictive ingredient in a cigarette, increases the level of the dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain.

Dopamine controls many important responses in the brain, such as behavior.

Nicotine spreads in the brain within a few minutes of the first inhalation, creating feelings of reward, which then cause the smoker to continue smoking.

“People may smoke for non-nicotine reasons, but it is the nicotine that is the primary addictive component of cigarettes,” said Dr. Allison Chausmer from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

American Lung Association Graph of Chemicals in CigarettesAlthough the FDA would not be able to get rid of nicotine altogether under the bill being considered by Congress, it would have the power to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco products.

The possible benefits for smokers, just like the bill, remain debatable.

A study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that tapered reduction of nicotine in cigarettes over a four-week span led one-fourth of smokers who were not trying to quit to spontaneously stop smoking after returning to their regular cigarettes.

“If a cigarette has nicotine levels that are below the level that people find rewarding, it may result in a reduced incidence of smoking initiation and/or increased incidence of quitting,” Chausmer said.

Chausmer also said that if the FDA lowers the nicotine content of cigarettes, “Fewer people will become addicted, and those who are addicted may find it easier to quit.”

However, smokers’ behavior varies, and some, if faced with lower nicotine levels in cigarettes, might smoke more to achieve the same nicotine satisfaction. Chausmer noted that smoking more cigarettes would mean spending more money and taking more time away from work or friends because of today’s smoke-free workplaces and restaurants.

The bill that would give the FDA regulatory power was approved by a House committee last week and will move to the House floor in the coming months.

Source: Farah Khan, Medill Reports, Northwestern University