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Smoking "Low-Tar" & "Lights"?
You're Fooling Yourself!

The National Cancer Institute said Tuesday (November 27, 2001) that popular low-tar and "light" cigarettes are worthless as a way to reduce health risks to smokers.

Contrary to what many believe, low-tar brands do not offer any signifiant protection against lung cancer, emphysema or other ailments associated with smoking regular cigarettes, the institute said.

Cigarette makers have offered more low-tar and low-nicotine products as alternatives to smokers who might otherwise quit. The light cigarettes have been a central marketing strategy of tobacco companies.

More than 80 percent of cigarettes sold in the United States are low-tar brands, and those who smoke them are likely to inhale more deeply, puff more frequently and smoke more cigarettes in an effort to get the taste that accompanies the high-tar brands, according to a Cancer Institute analysis of 50 years of scientific studies and literature.

Eating veggies may help you quit smoking. People who ate the most fruits and vegetables were three time more likely to succeed at stop-smoking programs.

Possible reason: The high fiber and water content of produce fills the stomach - and because hunger is triggered by hormones such as the ones that cause nicotine cravings, it can be mistaken for the urge to smoke.

Source: Study of 1,000 smokers by researchers from University of Buffalo, New York

Want to Look Old (But Die Young)?  Smoke!

Long-term smokers have thinner, less elastic skin than nonsmokers, which means they develop more wrinkles. They are up to four times more likely to turn gray prematurely. And men sho smoke are twice as likely to be bald or balding as nonsmokers.

Finally, long-term smokers are twice as likely to loose their teeth as nonsmokers, since smoking contributes to periodontal disease, regardless of how well smokers take care of their teeth. Those who smoke a pack a day can expect to lose an extra two teeth per decade.

Source: US Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2002.

Smoked Brains! How Nicotine Rewires Your Noggin'

Nicotine becomes habitforming by hijacking the brain's pleasure pathways. But to better treat nicotine addicts, scientists need to figure out precisely how it does so. University of Chicago researchers led by postdoctoral student Huibert Mansvelder appear to have unlocked much of the mystery.

One way most drugs cause addiction when they hit the brain is by stimulating certain cells to make dopamine, the biochemical most crucial to the experience of pleasure. But according to the researchers, smoking does a good deal more than that.

Using rats, they discovered that the first time a brain is subjected to nicotine, the substance not only stimulates brain cells to make more dopamine, but also interferes with the brain's ability to regulate the chemical.

Consequently, a smoker's high lingers as long as 45 minutes after the nicotine has disappeared from the bloodstream. The smoker experiences a runaway feel-good sensation that the brain records in its reward center and craves again and again.

Novice smokers, however, rarely become addicted after only the first few puffs. It's repeated exposure to the substance that causes cravings. So the next step, say researchers, is to study how persistent smoking alters the brain's ability to rein in dopamine and how that ultimately contributes to nicotine addiction -- a find that will offer new targets for antiaddiction drugs.

Source: Gunjan Sinha, Popular Science, June 2002.

Here are the benefits after quitting. . .

  • 20 Minutes: Your heart rate drops
  • 12 Hours: Carbon Monoxide levels normalize
  • 2 weeks - 12 months: Heart attack risk drops, lungs begin to heal
  • 1 to 9 months: Shortness of breath noticeably improves
  • 5 years: Stroke risk equals nonsmokers

Source: C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General.

Only in America. . . do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

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