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My Annual Smoking Rant

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You needn’t bother reading this if you’re a non-smoker or you don’t know a soul who still smokes. If you do know a smoker, do a favor and forward this piece. You never can tell. Your forwarded e-mail might trigger the decision to quit and believe me, an angel will get its wings.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the US. Globally, every year five million people die from tobacco-related deaths. In dramatic terms, the entire population of Chicago and half its suburbs dies every year.

Researchers at the Harvard Institute of Public Health wanted to determine what effect quitting smoking had on the overall health and longevity of women. They collected data on 104,519 women nurses, ages 30 to 55, over a 24-year period from 1980 to 2004.
Among these women, 12,483 died. Among those who died, approximately 1/3 had never smoked, 1/3 were current smokers, 1/3 were former smokers (two out of three deaths had a smoking history). Among the current smokers, 64% of the deaths were directly caused by smoking. Among the former smokers, 28% of the deaths were caused by smoking. That drop, from 64% to 28% is important. Quitting smoking helps.

The conclusion of the study was that if a woman stops smoking immediately, her risks of developing heart disease as a consequence of smoking start to drop from day one. Unfortunately, her lungs take longer to heal, and these risks continue for 20 years. The length of time you’ve smoked is important too. A teenager who starts smoking and continues through her adult life is in the highest risk group.

Can you stop? Definitely!

I believe that women start smoking to reduce stress and then become addicted to nicotine. If you remember from my book, The Triple Whammy Cure, women are more susceptible to stress because their level of stress-buffering serotonin is only a quarter that of men’s (even as women endure greater stress than men in day-to-day living).

For women, cigarettes act like comfort food for their calming effect. Men, by the way, have much less difficulty quitting than do women, in much the same way that men can give up chocolate (a serotonin booster) in an eyeblink, whereas some women emotionally crumble at the thought.

If you begin by raising your serotonin stress buffer before plunging into quitting, the whole process will be much easier. Following the Triple Whammy Cure guidelines (good nutrition, exercise, sunshine, supplements) will protect you from the shock of having your stress-mollifying Marlboro eliminated. If you happen to be taking an antidepressant (which also raises serotonin) and want to quit smoking, ask your doctor about a temporary dose increase during the withdrawal period. It will help.

In addition, smoking cessation programs do work. The prescription drug Chantix magically kills your interest in cigarettes. Nicotine patches reduce your dependence on nicotine and meeting with a quitting group is quite helpful. In solid clinical studies, acupuncture and Chinese herbs work as well.

Since you don’t smoke, click forward and send this to everyone you know who still lights up. Angels, wings…

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