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From the department of the obvious we have the following: Young women who smoke are twice as likely to have a stroke as their nonsmoking peers, according to a new study. And the more cigarettes a woman smokes per day, the bigger her risk.

The study was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. The researchers, who studied women ages 15 to 49, found that women who smoke one to 10 cigarettes per day increase their stroke risk 2.2 times. Women who smoke 11 to 20 cigarettes per day increase stroke risk 2.5 times, while those who smoke 21 to 39 per day increase stroke risk more than fourfold. The heaviest smokers — those who smoke 40 or more cigarettes per day — increase their risk 9.1 times.

The study followed 466 women who had suffered their first strokes. A comparison group consisted of 604 women of similar age, race, and ethnicity who had not had a stroke. A detailed smoking history was obtained during face-to-face interviews. Women were classified according to their smoking status as never-smokers, former smokers, or current smokers.

“Our study adds strong evidence that cutting down helps reduce stroke risk, but quitting is unquestionably the best option,” researcher John Cole, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says in a news release.

In 2005, an estimated 21% of American women aged 18-44 were cigarette smokers, according to researchers. The good news is that when women stop smoking, their risk of having a stroke decreases. Stroke risk decreases significantly three years after smoking stops. After five years of being smoke-free, former smokers have the same risk of stroke as never-smokers. And the earlier that smokers quit, the better. People who quit smoking prior to age 35 can have the same life expectancy as those who have never smoked.

The researchers point out that media campaigns and high prices for tobacco products help curb smoking rates among young people. “Our study supports the need to target smoking as a preventable and modifiable risk factor for cerebrovascular disease in young women,” they write.

 

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Think you know what’s up when it comes to cigarette smoking and its effects? Better think again!

1. Myth: Nicotine causes cancer.

Fact: Nicotine is not a carcinogen. However, there are 4,000 known chemicals in cigarettes, and more than 60 of them are carcinogens.

2. Myth: Smoking is just a bad habit that you can stop at any time.

Fact: There is a habit component to smoking, but there are also biological changes to the brain that create the addiction.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which occur naturally in the brain, are activated when nicotine is consumed. The activation period is followed by a desensitized state in which the receptors become unresponsive. As more nicotine is consumed, and the number of unresponsive receptors increases, the smoker experiences less pleasure from each cigarette. This makes it necessary to increase the number of cigarettes smoked to achieve the desired level of pleasure.

3. Myth: Low nicotine cigarettes are safer.

Fact: The blend of tobacco in a low nicotine cigarette is exactly the same as in a regular cigarette. The reason cigarette companies can call them “low” has to do with the way nicotine levels are tested.

As the regulator of cigarettes, the Federal Trade Commission tests for nicotine and tar levels with machines that draw air through a cigarette in two-second puffs, repeated once per minute, until the cigarette is burned to the filter. The smoke that is generated in this manner tests low in nicotine.

However, this test doesn’t approximate the way people really smoke. Smokers will compensate for the lower yield of nicotine by puffing more, or taking longer drags. Consequently, the smoker will actually inhale the same or more nicotine and tar, even though it is considered a low-nicotine cigarette.

Another reason the machine tests are considered inaccurate is cigarette manufacturers put ventilation holes in the filters. These holes allow more air to be drawn in, which dilutes the smoke going into the machine, making it seem as though the cigarette being tested contains less tar and nicotine. But when people actually smoke these cigarettes, their fingers generally cover the holes in the filters.

4. Myth: Medicinal nicotine found in nicotine patches and nicotine gum is just as addictive as smoking.

Fact: The delivery system used to bring nicotine to the brain is what determines the level of addictiveness. Medicinal nicotine is released slowly through the venous system. The brain receives only small quantities, reducing the potential for addiction.

Inhaling brings nicotine to the brain extremely fast, which is why it is so addictive.

“Inhaling gets nicotine to the brain within five heartbeats,” Hurt said.

5. Myth: A smoker who tries to quit without assistance can maintain abstinence over the long term.

Fact: Chances of long-term abstinence for smokers who try to go it alone are less than 5 percent. With assistance, the smoker’s chance of staying away from cigarettes increases to 30 to 35 percent.

 

The 2007 Smoker Misperceptions survey reveals there are significant differences between what smokers believe are the risks associated with smoking and the realities of tobacco-related disease and death. Check out these igorant smokers assumptions

  1. Sixty-six percent didn’t know that their chance of developing lung cancer was greater than that of a non-smoker.
  2. Forty percent incorrectly believed that developing lung cancer depends primarily on genes, not on behaviors like smoking.
  3. Eight percent didn’t know that smoking has been proven to cause blindness.
  4. Ten percent didn’t know that smoking has been proven to cause hair loss.
  5. Twenty-six percent didn’t know that smoking has been proven to cause impotence.
  6. Thirty-three percent mistakenly thought that they could reverse the harmful effects of smoking by exercising and taking vitamins.

 

In an effort to try and cut down the amount of smoking related ilnesses emenating from firefighters, The International Association of Fire Fighters has announced the launch of a new initiative to help fire fighters, family members and friends to quit smoking cigarettes.

“Our goal is to help make the IAFF the first smoke-free union,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said in his address to delegates at the IAFF 49th Convention.
The IAFF is collaborating with pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. to promote smoking cessation. Schaitberger and Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler first announced the joint initiative at the IAFF Health and Safety Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in October 2007.
The campaign includes materials designed to help fire fighters understand the risks of smoking and provide information on how to quit. These and other resources are available on a new web site at www.iaff.org/smokefree. In the coming weeks, the campaign will add new resources, including a DVD featuring stories from fire fighters about how they quit smoking. The web site and other materials are available to assist IAFF affiliates across North America in reaching out to members, families and communities to promote and encourage smoking cessation.
Smoking is a major health risk for fire fighters who are already at high risk for illnesses, including heart disease, respiratory disease and certain cancers. In addition, smoking is the leading cause of fires and a significant occupational risk for fire fighters.
“We congratulate the IAFF for its commitment to this campaign and look forward to working together toward the goal of a smoke-free union,” Kindler said. “Fire fighters are respected leaders in their communities, and this program on smoking cessation reaffirms that leadership.”
“Fire fighters place themselves in harm’s way, confront dangerous environments, high heat and flames, and exposure to burning materials,” Schaitberger said. “It’s stressful work and some respond to stress by smoking. Yet smoking increases the health risks fire fighters face. We want to help prevent that.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, represents more than 288,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation’s population. More information is available at www.iaff.org
Pfizer discovers and develops innovative medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. We also partner with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality healthcare and health system support.

A key mechanism by which smoking triggers genetic changes that cause lung cancer has been unravelled.

Researchers have shown exposure to cigarette smoke slows production of a protein called FANCD2 in lung cells.

This protein plays a key role in repairing damage to DNA, and causing faulty cells to commit suicide before they go on to become cancerous.

The study, led by Oregon Health and Science University, appears in the British Journal of Cancer.

LUNG CANCER
Most common cancer in the world with 1.3 million people diagnosed every year
Second most common form of cancer in the UK after breast cancer
Over 38,300 new cases, and more than 33,000 deaths in the UK each year
Smoking responsible for 90% of cases in the UK

It raises hopes of improved treatments for the disease.

Lead researcher Dr Laura Hays said: “These findings show the important role FANCD2 plays in protecting lung cells against cigarette smoke and may explain why cigarette smoke is so toxic to these cells.”

The researchers suspect other proteins also play a role in fixing DNA and weeding out defective cells.

However, their work showed that cells with very high levels of FANCD2 were resistant to the toxic effects of smoke – suggesting this protein is key.

Artificial windpipe

The researchers created an artificial windpipe in the lab to replicate the environment of a smoker’s lung.

They then studied the effects of cigarette smoke on different proteins in cells and found that FANCD2 levels were low enough to allow DNA damage.

FANCD2 is part of a family of proteins involved in an inherited condition called Fanconi anaemia.

People with the condition are more likely to develop cancers at a young age and have low levels of these proteins.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “This interesting piece of science adds to our understanding of why smoking is so deadly.

“Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer and causes nine out of ten cases of lung cancer.

“But the good news is that quitting works – after five years without smoking your risk of a heart attack will have fallen to half that of a smoker.

“And after ten years your risk of lung cancer will have halved too.”

So quit smoking! Why not quit smoking?  Just quit.

Childhood cancer survivors who are most likely to develop tumours as adults continue to endanger their health by smoking, research suggests.

A University of Birmingham(England) team found the highest smoking rates among patients whose type of treatment put them at greater risk later in life.

Cancer campaigners have expressed concern that the survivors are exposing themselves to “avoidable” dangers.

The researchers say more education is needed about the risks of smoking.

We are very concerned that people are exposing themselves to a further completely avoidable risk for developing another cancer
Professor Mike Hawkins
Centre for Childhoold Cancer Survivor Studies

The study, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, pinpoints three types of childhood cancer – Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcomas and Wilms’ tumour – which are known to carry an increased risk of further tumours due to the form of radiotherapy and chemotherapy used to treat them.

The researchers found that smoking was most common among people who had been treated for these cancers when children – nearly a quarter of the 10,000 former cancer sufferers surveyed.

Overall, childhood cancer survivors are around half as likely as the general population to be regular smokers.

Intervention call

Researcher Dr Clare Frobisher, based at Birmingham’s Centre for Childhoold Cancer Survivor Studies, said: “It is worrying that those survivors who are most at risk of developing a new cancer as a result of their treatment, are more likely to be smokers than other childhood cancer survivors.

INCREASED RISK
A study of 16,541 survivors of childhood cancer found they were 6.2 times more likely to develop a second primary tumour than the general population
After 25 years 4.2% of survivors had developed a second primary cancer
The rate of second primary tumours among survivors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma was 9.2 times that of the general population, for Wilms’ tumour it was 6.9 times, and for soft tissue sarcoma it was 4.3 times
Figures from the Centre for Childhood Cancer Survivor Studies

“It is clear that more work needs to be done to make sure they are aware of their increased risk of a second cancer and other related health problems if they smoke.”

The majority of smokers in the study took up smoking before the age of 20.

Dr Frobisher said: “We think intervention programmes should be put in place early, targeting cancer survivors as young as 12.”

Professor Mike Hawkins, director of the Centre for Childhoold Cancer Survivor Studies, said: “We are very concerned that people who have been exposed to radiation and chemotherapy drugs during treatment for cancer as a child are exposing themselves to a further completely avoidable risk for developing another cancer and other smoking-related diseases in later life.”

Elspeth Lee, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said it was crucial that young cancer survivors were given all the necessary information and support to discourage tem for taking up smoking.

Thanks to the development of better treatments for childhood cancer, almost eight in ten children now survive a diagnosis of the disease.

It is estimated that there are more than 26,000 survivors of childhood cancer alive in Britain today.

It is estimated that in the UK around 11 million adults – more than one in five of the population – smoke.

Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. It is responsible for nearly nine out of ten cases of lung cancer in the UK. With that being said, we would like to stress that they want you to quit smoking, it does not matter how you do it just quit, whether its with our product or someone else’s.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44.5 million US adults were current smokers in 2006 (the most recent year for which numbers are available). This is 20.8% of all adults (23.9% of men, 18.0% of women) — more than 1 out of 5 people.

When broken down by race/ethnicity, the numbers were as follows:

Whites 21.9%
African Americans 23.0%
Hispanics 15.2%
American Indians/Alaska Natives 32.4%
Asian Americans 10.4%

The numbers were higher in younger age groups. In 2006, CDC reported almost 24% of those 18 to 44 years old were current smokers, compared to 10.2% in those aged 65 or older.

Nationwide, 22.3% of high school students and 8.1% of middle school students were smoking in 2004. More White and Hispanic students smoked cigarettes.  Can anyone tell me why the highest percentages would among American Indians and native Alaskans?

 

 

Chewing tobacco and snuff are less dangerous than cigarettes but the smokeless products still raise the risk of oral cancer by 80 percent, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency said on Tuesday.

The review of 11 studies worldwide showed people who chewed tobacco and used snuff also had a 60 percent higher risk of esophagus and pancreatic cancer.

The researchers sought to quantify the risk of smokeless tobacco after a number of studies differed on just how dangerous the products were, said Paolo Boffetta, an epidemiologist at the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

“What we did was try to quantify the burden of smokeless cancer,” he said in a telephone interview. “This has never been attempted in such a systematic way before.”

The researchers, who published their findings in Lancet Oncology, did this by looking at population-wide studies and trials of both humans and animals.

They found frequency of use varies greatly both across and within countries, depending on sex, age, ethnic origin and economic background, and were highest in the United States, Sweden and India.

They also found that while snuff and chew were less dangerous than smoking because they were not linked to lung cancer, getting cigarette users to switch was not good public policy.

“If all smokers did this there would be a net benefit,” Boffetta said. “The point is we don’t know whether this would happen and there is no data to suggest these smokers would stop or switch.”

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, and yet it causes one in ten deaths among adults. In 2005, tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths, or an average of one death every six seconds. At the current rate, the death toll is projected to reach more than eight million annually by 2030 and a total of up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.
Last month the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced World No Tobacco Day to highlight the dangers of cigarettes and their effects on younger generations. The WHO also revealed shocking statistics, such as tobacco kills 50 per cent of its users. This means, of the 1.3 billion smokers alive today, 650 million will be killed by tobacco.

1. Why is smoking addictive?
Nicotine is a psychoactive drug, which the body accepts like a “normal” messenger substance stimulating the electrical activity of the brain. It has calming effects, especially at times of stress. Smoking is a physical addiction, which is almost as strong as that of heroin, since nicotine also induces structural changes in the brain of smokers. When nicotine is suddenly withdrawn, normal functions in the brain and other parts of the body are disturbed resulting in withdrawal symptoms.
2. What damage does smoking do to the body?
Smoking causes many premature deaths from diseases that are largely preventable:Heart disease: Smoking is responsible for 30 per cent of all heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths. Cancer: At least 30 per cent of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Lung disease: More than 80 per cent of all lung problems, mainly chronic bronchitis and emphysema can be avoided by not smoking. Peripheral artery disease: Smoking is the main cause of peripheral artery occlusion, and this is extremely dangerous when associated with diabetes.
Premature ageing of the skin: It also causes premature wrinkling of the skin of the face. On average, smokers look five years older than non-smokers of the same age.

Others: It also contributes to stomach ulcers and osteoporosis, reduces female fertility and causes premature births and infant death.

3. Why can smoking be even worse for men?
Younger and middle-aged men are at a higher risk for premature arteriosclerosis and heart attacks than women of the same age. Therefore, male gender may be considered a risk factor in itself. Smoking does not just add on some risk, it multiplies the chances of developing heart disease.
As smoking causes damage to blood vessels, it also impairs erections in middle-aged and older men and may affect the quality of their sperm. It can have the effect of sedating sperm and can impair their mobility.

4. What are the best ways to quit smoking?
Self-help is, in fact, the only way to quit smoking. Others can give advice and support, but in the end it is up to the individual. To succeed you must have sufficient motivation to carry yourself through the task ahead. At least two-thirds of smokers are likely to find it difficult to give up smoking. However, it is not their fault that they find it difficult. They do not continue smoking because they are weak-willed or irresponsible, but because they are addicted. There are various motivations for trying to quit smoking:
The most important is concern for health and well-being. The onset of minor ailments, such as coughs, sore throats, breathlessness, indigestion, and feeling generally less well and less fit, are early signs that the body has had enough.
Some smokers come to resent the feeling of being controlled by their need to smoke, and are motivated to stop by their desire to regain control and self-mastery.
To help make up your mind about stopping, make a list of all the reasons that are important for you. Make a similar list of all the positive benefits of smoking you will miss and any withdrawal difficulties you anticipate when you stop. Weigh up the lists and tell yourself that any suffering you may endure will be temporary and may last only a few weeks
You must be prepared to work hard at stopping smoking. Here are the steps to take:
Plan to stop on a particular day. Choose a time when you are not under too much pressure from other tasks and when you can avoid situations that you know will make it more difficult. Don’t put it off for too long unless you have to. Make plans to keep away from smokers and other tempting situations after you have stopped.
Plan to stop smoking completely on your target day. Cutting down gradually is less effective. Telling too many people that you are going to stop is not always helpful. To be constantly asked how you are getting along can bring the subject to your mind just when you are learning not to think about it
Prepare on a small card a list of your reasons for stopping. You may need to have this in your pocket or close at hand if things get difficult and your motivation falters after you have stopped. On the night before your target day, make sure all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters are removed from your home. Of course we realize that sometimes you have to go through hell with a lot of different methods before you come to see us. That’s ok. Just as long as you quit in the end!

5. How can quitting smoking be made easier?
There is no drug for smoking that can cure your problem for you without you having to make any effort. However, there are some treatments that you can use to aid your self-help:
Counseling and support, either in single sessions or in groups. It is also important that partners do not smoke or stop smoking at the same time. Otherwise, the smoker gets “re-infected” time and again.
Hypnosis and acupuncture may help some people, but not everyone is susceptible to these techniques.
Nicotine substitution like patches or chewing gum can help overcoming the habit of lighting a cigarette, and the dose can be tapered down over time.
No one is born as a smoker. In all drug addictions, psychosocial factors determine the initial exposures. Addiction may subsequently develop if the drug has effects that people like or find rewarding. Younger people may think that it is “cool” to smoke because it makes them appear more “grown-up”. Ultimately, it is up to you to finally decide to quit smoking, on your terms.

How the ‘pariah effect’ is changing America’s smoking habits, and why nonsmokers should show more compassion for the addicted.

You’ve seen them: the huddled masses standing outside office doorways, in parking lots, on train platforms, cigarettes in hand, taking that last puff before going into one of the growing number of no-smoking zones in America. But dedicated smokers don’t just brave the elements; increasingly, they also have to face the scornful looks of passers-by. It’s no wonder they’re starting to feel like social pariahs. But it turns out that those disdainful glares may be motivating some smokers to quit

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