Category Archives: Smoking Research

Research Studies on cigarette smoking

Smoking Bad for You Inside and Out

The cosmetics sector undoubtedly cashes in on our desire to look good.

We spend large amounts of money on creams and different products to enhance or maintain our appearance.

However we often fail to remember how much what we consume affects us.

Cigarettes, which are universally acknowledged to take a toll on our lungs, are an item that can hinder our appearance as well. Whether we are simply social smokers or chain smokers, we may be doing damage to more than our lungs.

Recent research carried out by dermatologists has shown that people addicted to smoking cigarettes have around five times as many wrinkles as those who do not indulge in the habit.

Experts, noting that some studies have even proven that cigarettes yield a stronger effect than sunrays, say: “If you don’t want to experience early aging, quit smoking!”

Photo of Girl SmokingDull, wrinkled, dirty-gray skin, recognized by many as being “smokers skin,” is a phenomenon experienced by 79 percent of smokers, says Dr. Bayram Börekçi, a skin and venereal diseases expert.

Börekçi explains; “Some of the symptoms we see on smokers’ faces include permanent lines and wrinkles, as well as a collapsed facial expression resulting from the protruding bones underneath the skin.

We also see thinning skin, a light-gray appearance, as well as a light orange/purple/red coloring. The “cigarette addict’s face” is the same face seen on women over the age of 70. It is worth noting that people addicted to cigarettes start getting wrinkles very early. The amount of wrinkling is parallel to the number of cigarettes smoked over the course of a year.

Some of the factors which lead to the formation of wrinkles on the skin as a result of cigarette smoking are the widening veins due to the stimulation of the nervous system by nicotine, the reduction of oxygen in soft tissues, the increase in clotting and the reduction of collagen.”

Börekçi, mentioning the toxic, mechanical and genetic effects of smoking, notes that the reduction of moisture in smokers’ skin is connected with the toxic effect of cigarettes. The doctor also notes that the wrinkling seen around the lips of some smokers is a result of the “mechanic” effects of cigarette smoking, the muscles used when actually inhaling smoke.

He notes: “Many people believe that there are also genetic factors at play here, as not all cigarette smokers have a cigarette addict’s face. The elasticity layer in the parts of bodies which are not regularly exposed to the sun in cigarette smokers are, when compared to the same areas of the body in non-smokers, much thicker and more fragmented. The chronic reduction of oxygen to the skin also reduces the synthesis of collagen, making visible wrinkles emerge.”

He went on: “Cigarettes can cause a variety of anti-estrogen effects, such as infertility, early menopause and menstrual irregularities. The physiological effects and importance of estrogen to the skin can be seen clearly in the post-menopausal period. In women who are addicted to cigarettes, the hypo-estrogen situation that is brought about shows itself in dry skin and wrinkles.

Cigarettes reduce the levels of vitamin A in the body, which means that the cells have a greatly reduced level of protection against their number-one enemy, free radicals. This too makes it easier for wrinkles to appear. In people who already have white or grey hair, there is a yellowish color that appears in the hair because of the tar in cigarettes.

The same sort of yellowish-brown color appears on the fingers and fingernails of people who smoke. This is called a “nicotine stain.” The insides of smokers’ mouths are darker than other people’s mouths. In fact, sometimes the insides of the cheeks develop a tough, irregular whitish film. The fact that veins become narrower as a result of smoking means that it is harder for wounds to heal.

It has been shown that even smoking just one cigarette can have the effect of narrowing veins for up to 90 minutes. There are more than 4,000 chemical elements found in cigarette smoke, although it is mostly nicotine, which is responsible for the decrease in the flow of blood.”

So bearing all this mind, you might want to ask yourself: Is enjoying a cigarette really worth all this potential physiological damage you could be dealing yourself?

Toenails Reveal All

Your toes tell it all, ladies.

Toenail clippings can provide evidence of tobacco exposure and help explain the risk of heart disease, at least in women, according to a unique study from the University of California-San Diego and Harvard University.

The medical researchers examined levels of nicotine in toenails of 905 women who were diagnosed with coronary heart disease from 1984 through 1998.

The women were among the 62,641 participants in the Nurse’s Health Study. Those with heart disease were randomly matched to two other participants by age and by the date that their toenails were collected.

The twenty percent of women who had the highest nicotine levels in their toenails turned out to have more than triple the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease as those whose levels put them in the lowest twenty percent. The risk remained significantly higher after the researchers took smoking into account, adjusting for the number of cigarettes smoked as well as exposure to second hand smoke.

Women's Toenails“Using toenail nicotine is a novel way to objectively measure exposure to tobacco smoke, and ultimately, to increase our understanding of tobacco-related illness, said Wael Al-Delaimy, of UC-San Diego’s department of family and preventive medicine, lead author of the study published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “This would be especially helpful in situations where smoking history is not available or is biased.”

Source: Josh Goldstein, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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

Researchers Identify Genetic Variant Linked To Nicotine Addiction

NIDA Researchers Identify Genetic Variant Linked To Nicotine Addiction And Lung Cancer – Variant Also Increases Risk For Cardiovascular Disease

Scientists have identified a genetic variant that not only makes smokers more susceptible to nicotine addiction but also increases their risk of developing two smoking-related diseases, lung cancer and peripheral arterial disease.

The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The study, published in the April 3 issue of the journal Nature, “highlights the advances that are being made in genetics research, which can now identify gene variants that increase the risk of complex bio-behavioral disorders,” says NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. “This finding will help us in our efforts to further reduce the scope and devastating consequences of cigarette smoking.”

“These results suggest for the first time that a single genetic variant not only can predispose to nicotine addiction but may also increase sensitivity to extremely serious smoking-related diseases,” explains NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. “Additionally, it points to potential targets for new smoking-cessation medications that may be more effective at helping smokers to quit.”

The variant is closely linked to two of the known subunits of nicotine receptors, the sites on the surface of many cells in the brain and body that can be bound by nicotine. When nicotine attaches to these receptors in the brain, there are changes in cell activity that results in its addictive effects.Carriers of this genetic variant are more likely than noncarriers to be heavy smokers, dependent on nicotine, and less likely to quit smoking. “The variant does not increase the likelihood that a person will start smoking, but for people who do smoke it increases the likelihood of addiction,” says Dr. Kári Stefánsson, the study’s principal investigator and chief executive officer of deCODE Genetics, a biopharmaceutical company based in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The variant was identified through a technique known as genome-wide association, in which DNA samples (from more than 10,000 Icelandic smokers) were analyzed for the presence of more than 300,000 genetic markers. Subsequent investigation showed that carriers of the variant strongly associated with nicotine dependence were also at increased risk for two smoking-related diseases, peripheral arterial disease and lung cancer. The findings were replicated in populations from five European countries and New Zealand. The researchers estimate that the variant explains 18 percent of cases of lung cancer and 10 percent of cases of peripheral arterial disease in smokers.

Nicotine addictionThe same variant was identified as one that increased risk for lung cancer in two other articles appearing in the April 3rd, 2008, issues of Nature and Nature Genetics, partially funded by two other NIH institutes–the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute.

For more information on Smoking/Nicotine: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html

The National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.

The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov.

The National Institutes of Health

(NIH) – The Nation’s Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

Smoking and SIDS: The Connection Explained

Like we need one more reason not to smoke, especially during pregnancy.

For the men in the house who create second-hand smoke read about this study.

New science is telling us that the increased risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) among people exposed to nicotine is very real. And very explainable.

Sleep Review magazine is reporting a fascinating study that just came out, detailing why an infant’s ability to respond to oxygen deprivation after birth is dramatically compromised by exposure to nicotine in the womb–even when that exposure is light to moderate.

Picture a baby lying face down in bed. A normal, healthy baby would sense it’s being deprived of vital oxygen, and thus move its head. This is similar to the “flight or flight” response we get when we’re in a dire situation and have to move fast to survive (our body moves without us really thinking about it).

But when a baby has been exposed to the chemical nicotine in the womb, apparently this instinctual arousal mechanism doesn’t work so well. So the baby isn’t quick enough to respond and save his life.SIDS is rare, but it’s one of the most common causes of death in babies between 1 and 12 months of age. Most babies who die of SIDS are between the ages of 2 and 4 months. It can be devastating for a family–what seems like a totally healthy baby suddenly dies during sleep.

We don’t know what causes SIDS, but clearly there are risk factors for it, and smoking is one of them (no, not the baby smoking, but the mother and anyone else in the vicinity). Current studies are looking at possibly a problem in the brain that controls breathing during the first few months of life. But this new study plainly shows how nicotine can kill a much-needed survival mechanism in the early stages of life.

Baby in a CribWhen a baby is born, it’s exposed to low oxygen, which signals the adrenal glands to release chemicals called catecholamines. These catecholamines contain the famous fight or flight hormone adrenaline that tell the baby’s lungs to reabsorb fluid, and to take its first breath. The heart also begins to beat more efficiently. This response mechanism remains in place for a few months after birth (so it’s the adrenal glands that act as the baby’s oxygen sensor).

But under the influence of nicotine, it appears this mechanism becomes dysfunctional. Granted, a baby would normally lose this mechanism in time as the central nervous systems takes over the controls of this critical response, but unfortunately when a baby loses this ability too early in the game of life, the door to SIDS opens.

Yet another reason to blow out the smoke. I know it’s no easy task. But neither is grieving for a lost child.

Source: Dr. Michael J. Breus

This article is cross-posted at Dr. Breus’s Blog, The Insomnia Blog.

UT takes $445,000 of Philip Morris Money for Tobacco Grower Research

Should the University of Tennessee accept money from the tobacco industry to help promote the growth of domestic tobacco production?

That ethical question has yet to be debated—even nearly six months after UT quietly received a one-year $445,000 grant from Philip Morris to establish and operate a Center for Tobacco Grower Research in Morgan Hall on the Knoxville campus.

News of the grant is coming as a surprise to anti-smoking activists and even UT staff.

“It blows me away that UT would take money from a cigarette manufacturer, knowing that smoking kills,” says Douglas Benton, an Alcoa resident who earned a business degree at UT and founded No Smoking in Restaurants in Tennessee (NoSIR) in 2005. “I don’t like people making one penny off killing other people. I don’t understand why my university would try to help farmers to make more money selling something that has no possible benefit at all to a human.”

UT initially released its big news to ag extension agents, tobacco growers, and Burley strade publications where the reaction was positive. The inaugural Nov. 29 press release unabashedly quotes Philip Morris’ Vice President of Leaf, Jeanette Hubbard: “Because American tobacco is the backbone of our blends, a stable supply of U.S. tobacco is very important to Philip Morris USA. That’s why we are pleased to work with the University of Tennessee to support sustainability of U.S. tobacco production through the research conducted by the center.”

But there’s been hardly a murmur about the ethics of accepting funding from a manufacturer of tobacco products, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say cause 438,000 deaths in the United States per year, representing 5.5 million years of potential life lost and $167 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity annually.

“I’m not really catching any heat,” says the center’s director Daniel Green, who also worked with the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. “Obviously you get some questions about, ‘Why tobacco?’ but we’re getting a lot of support from the growers.”

This support from growers will probably continue—after all, they stand to gain production and industry information that hasn’t been available since the 2004-2005 federal tobacco-quota buyout terminated federal tobacco price-support and supply-control programs, and the center’s research will undoubtedly provide them with ways to produce more competitively in the new free-market economy.

But away from the burley fields, opposition and outrage are mounting as more members of Tennessee’s public health community and UT alumni learn of the center’s creation and the source of its funding.

Jenny Carico, a nurse at Student Health Services who earned her Bachelor’s of Nursing at UT, says tobacco money funding anything on campus is ill-advised and unethical. “I think a great deal of tobacco marketing is geared to my patient population and it makes me spitting mad,” she says.

Tobacco According to the state Department of Health’s Prevalence of Tobacco Use in Tennessee, 1997-2007, smoking prevalence among adults ages 18-24 years is around 29 percent, compared to 22.6 percent of the state’s general population and 20.1 percent for the United States on the whole.

“The cigarette manufacturers are gunning for these kids with marketing that gets them started smoking at an age when they think they’re bulletproof,” she says. “By the time they figure out they’re not, they have to deal with the reality that tobacco is addictive, sometimes at great expense to their health—that’s not the kind of profit we want funding university research.”

The agricultural portion of the university community, though, doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“You know, tobacco is still a legal commodity for farm owners to produce,” says Green, himself a non-smoker though he grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky. “Here, it’s just a part of agriculture—an important part of agriculture.”

Kelly Tiller, an assistant professor at UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, whose work is partially funded by Philip Morris, explains the agricultural community’s emotional disconnect between tobacco fatalities and the product they grow as a long-time cultural phenomenon, one that hasn’t changed much even though around three-fourths of the state’s tobacco growers ceased production after the federal tobacco-quota buyout.

“To them, tobacco growing is viewed as a legal farm enterprise that has provided a significant economic base for many of our rural communities for a very long time, and is tightly integrated into those communities,” Tiller says.

The research center, she says, will also emphasize tobacco merely as an agricultural commodity. “The data will revolve around the farm part of production, not cigarettes or any other manufactured products.”

All of the center’s reports and survey results will be available to the general public, ordinarily from summaries on the center’s website—with no proprietary information for Philip Morris. The benefit to the tobacco giant will be shared by other manufacturers and growers, says Tiller.

And Green hopes that more farmers will decide to grow tobacco because of the center’s research, which could also benefit Philip Morris and other national cigarette and tobacco-product manufacturers.

“While the primary objective will be to collect and disseminate information necessary to enhance the long-term sustainability of U.S. tobacco production, research conducted by the center may improve the success of current growers or attract new or former growers to the industry,” he says.

Green insists that more tobacco farmers, in Tennessee and other tobacco-growing states, would be good for the farm economy.

But Chastity Mitchell, contract lobbyist for the grassroots Campaign for Healthy & Responsible Tennessee (CHART), based in Nashville, is skeptical of more farmers getting in—or getting back to—tobacco production. She’s also wary of Philip Morris’ interest in Tennessee starting in 2007, the same year the state passed the Non-Smokers Protection Act prohibiting smoking in most public places and workplaces, increased its cigarette tax by $0.42 to $0.62 per pack, and significantly increased funding for its tobacco control program.

“I find it interesting that after the big policy year that we had in 2007…that Philip Morris would make this kind of significant investment in Tennessee to sustain the tobacco economy and even to try to recruit new growers,” says Mitchell, who has worked in Tennessee in tobacco control for the past eight years, including stints with the American Heart Association and as Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “We’ve seen, over the years, that domestically grown tobacco is just a minute fraction compared to what tobacco companies purchase worldwide.”

And growers had good reasons to get out of the tobacco business back in 2005—and to continue to stay out, says Mitchell. “They wouldn’t make the same money that they did with price supports, they don’t have the allotment anymore…and to try to get them back, especially when manufacturers like Philip Morris are continuing to buy more and more overseas, it’s just a really strange situation.”

The Philip Morris investment may also cast a shadow on UT Agricultural Economics’ relationship with the public health community, says Mitchell, even though they’ve historically collaborated on tobacco issues that affected both groups, facilitated by Tiller, who was a tobacco policy analyst almost nine years before the research center’s creation.

“I think those collaborations fostered a good bit of communication, but now that we know Dr. Tiller is involved with this Tobacco Research Center, and Philip Morris is underwriting it, it would certainly make those in the public health community hesitant to sit down and have an open dialogue with the tobacco growers, knowing how they’re funded.”

At least on the surface, the Philip Morris money does not seem to benefit the University of Tennessee’s bottom line. It does cover Green’s entire salary and overhead at his Morgan Hall office, but he’s a new hire, not an existing member of the faculty. A small portion goes to cover part of Dr. Tiller’s salary, and a graduate assistant who would come from the Agricultural School is budgeted, but hasn’t been hired. The vast majority pays for data collection expenses.

But even if UT won’t get a new wing for the Ag school, or millions in discretionary funds, NoSIR’s Benton can see no excuse for taking Philip Morris money.

“It’s incredible that an institute of higher learning would promote smoking when ordinarily the more educated people are, the less likely they are to smoke,” Benton says. “I think the university has to learn to be like the rest of us…that sometimes you just have to put your foot down and say, ‘No.’”

Source: —Rose Kennedy, Metro Pulse

FSU Researcher Lands $3.3 Million Grant to Help Smokers to Kick Habit

A new study will focus on connection between smoking and anxiety disorders.

Tallahassee, Florida — A Florida State University professor will share a $3.3 million federal grant with a colleague from the University of Vermont to develop an innovative method that will help smokers with anxiety disorders extinguish the habit.

FSU psychology Professor Brad Schmidt and UVM psychology Professor Michael Zvolensky are recruiting about 600 people — 300 at each campus — to participate in the study over the next five years. Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the $3.3 million grant is one of the largest the scientific organization has ever awarded for this kind of study, Schmidt said.

Cigarette smoking, the leading cause of preventable death and disability in North America, is particularly common among those with, or at risk for developing, panic disorder, according to Schmidt. About 40 percent of individuals with panic disorder are regular smokers and more than 60 percent have a lifetime history of smoking.

“These rates are higher than in the general population where about 25 percent are smokers. Yet no specialized approach currently exists to help smokers with anxiety problems quit,” Schmidt said.

“The thing that makes this smoking cessation program unique is the focus on reducing anxiety sensitivity, which is a risk factor for developing anxiety problems” he said. Nicotine withdrawal produces all kinds of unpleasant feelings, and if you’re extremely sensitive to these kinds of bodily sensations, it could provoke anxiety and panic responses. People with anxiety sensitivity perceive certain physical responses — such as a pounding heart, sweaty palms or dizziness — as a sign of imminent personal harm, even if the cause is something as mundane as stress, caffeine or nicotine. They not only fear their own reactions, they also fear that other people will detect their anxiety, which then increases their anxiety and puts them at risk for a panic attack.

“Some people with anxiety sensitivity actually begin smoking in a misguided attempt to assuage these feelings, while others develop anxiety sensitivity after they pick up the habit in response to the effects of nicotine on their bodies,” Schmidt said. “Either way, many of these anxiety-sensitive smokers find that withdrawal symptoms cause them to be even more anxious and panicky — thwarting their attempts to quit or triggering a relapse.”

Schmidt and Zvolensky’s cessation plan involves four one-on-one sessions. The program includes education, coping skills and anxiety reduction strategies, along with nicotine replacement therapy, such as the patch.

smoker inhaling“We have two inter-related goals, Schmidt said. “The first is to see whether combining some of what we know from our anxiety treatments with the state-of-the-art smoking cessation treatments will enhance our ability to help people quit smoking, and the longer term goal is to determine if these treatments will prevent the development of anxiety problems like panic attacks.”

“If the program is successful, it would reduce the public health burden of both anxiety and smoking-related problems,” Schmidt said. “In addition, the results of the study are expected to increase knowledge about the role of smoking in the development and maintenance of anxiety symptoms, panic attacks and panic disorder and the role that vulnerability to panic attacks plays in smoking relapses.”

For more information, call (850) 645-1766 or visit www.anxietyclinic.fsu.edu/research.htm.

Brad Schmidt
schmidt@psy.fsu.edu
850-644-1707
Florida State University

Medicaid Could Save $10 Billion Over 5 Years if Recipients Quit Smoking, Study Says

With all the news about government spending on unnecessary items comes news that spending on a program that helps reduce medicaid expenses would be a wise decision.

America’s Medicaid system could spend $10 billion less in costs for its patients’ care over the next five years if they were to stop smoking, according to a new study by the American Legacy Foundation.

This study also found that effective smoking prevention and cessation programs could cut the cost of funding Medicaid by 5.6 percent. This is according to a recent press release issued by the American Legacy Foundation.

According to the report, the costs vary from state to state. In a state such as Wyoming the current Medicaid spending on smoking is $15 million. Meanwhile, in a much more populated state such as New York, that total is much higher, in the amount of $1.5 billion. Overall as a country, if all the smokers on Medicaid quit at the same time it would save the country $9.7 billion according to the press release.

“This report is a wake up call to the nation’s health policy makers,” said Janet Napolitano, who is the Governor of Arizona and also a board member for the American Legacy Foundation. “All of us who are struggling with the ever-rising costs of Medicaid should take these dramatic findings to heart.

With more than 8.6 million Americans suffering from tobacco-related disease, and tobacco remaining the number one preventable cause of death in our nation, we must help smokers quit. These data make clear that investing in proven tobacco cessation programs is sound fiscal and public health policy.

We can – and must – take the necessary steps to save both lives and taxpayer dollars.”, concluded Napolitano.

The amount of taxpayer money that could be saved if smoking is treated at a young age is significant. According to the press release if every state could prevent smoking among all current 24-year-olds, the savings for Medicare would range for each state from $1.4 million for Alaska, all the way up to $125 million for Texas.

The study also showed that the cost for treating women smokers is much higher than males. The average spent on a female smoker in Medicaid funds is $1,372, while for men it is $6.

Medicaid ImageThroughout the country 20.8 percent of adults in the country are current smokers based on the most recent statistics from 2006 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also revealed that smoking rates are not dropping throughout the country. This is the situation for the past two years, after witnessing the smoking rate dropping for seven consecutive years. The rates have remained steady over these past two years. Indicating that the number of potential Medicaid members who smoke is not dropping as it had in past years, increasing the likelihood of the expense of smoking on Medicaid dollars will increase.

SOURCE:
Prnewswire.com. “Smokers Cost Medicaid System Nearly $10 Billion”.

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/11-29-2007/0004713426&EDATE= 

Corticosterone, Genetics And The Addiction Of Nicotine

Individual brain chemistry and genes could be key to understanding why some people become addicted to nicotine and why the chemical compound’s effects appear to diminish at night, University of Colorado at Boulder researchers say.

“The depth of a person’s addiction to nicotine appears to depend on his or her unique internal chemistry and genetic make-up,” said lead author Jerry Stitzel, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder’s department of integrative physiology and researcher with CU-Boulder’s Institute for Behavioral Genetics.

He and his team set out to evaluate the effects of nicotine over the course of a day by examining mice that could make and “recognize” melatonin, a powerful hormone and antioxidant, and others that could not. Scientists believe that melatonin, which is produced by darkness, tells our bodies when to sleep.

The CU researchers found that the reduced effects of nicotine at night were dependent on the mice’s genetic make-up and whether their brains and bodies were able to recognize melatonin. They also found that the daytime effects of nicotine were greatest when levels of the stress hormone corticosterone were high.

The second finding could explain why many smokers report that the first cigarette of the day is the most satisfying. Cortisol, the human equivalent of corticosterone, is at peak levels in the early morning, Stitzel said.

“The negative health consequences of smoking have become well known, and a large majority of smokers say that they would like to quit,” Stitzel said. “As such, we need to understand the interaction between smoking, genes and internal chemistry so we can target new therapies to those who have a hard time quitting.”

While the team’s research could shed light on why people smoke and how nicotine affects them, Stitzel says more research is needed to determine the role that melatonin plays in altering the effects of nicotine, and whether the correlation between higher corticosterone levels and nicotine sensitivity is a coincidence.

The CU-Boulder study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

CorticosteroneResearchers from Yale, Florida State, the University of Minnesota and the Baylor College of Medicine also presented findings based on research into the effects of smoking and nicotine.

Among their conclusions: Smoking may predispose adolescents to mental disorders in adolescence and adulthood; a network of neurons, or cells in the nervous system, may regulate the body’s craving response; and smoking may affect decision-making.

– University of Colorado at Boulder

*Thanks goes to Cuckoo from AS3 for submission to CF.