ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
CANCER
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
CAREGIVING
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Probiotics Are The Good Guys
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
EYE CARE, VISION
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
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Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Everyone knows smoking is bad for you. Really bad.

But just last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the United States won't meet the Healthy People 2010 objective of reducing the adult smoking rate to 12 percent or less.

That means that continued high levels of smoking-related health problems, deaths and lost productivity will continue to plague the nation for years to come.

"It's an enormously important time to help people make that decision to try to quit," said Thomas J. Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society.

And there's no better time to make that effort than Thursday, the 33rd annual Great American Smokeout, when the cancer society will ask smokers to try and dump the habit.

In the past year, 40 percent of the 43.4 million Americans who smoke tried to quit for at least one day. The Great American Smokeout is designed to encourage people to make a long-term plan to quit for good.

"A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and your single step begins on the day of the Great American Smokeout," Glynn said. "But then you need to follow through to stay stopped. And if you fall down, get right back up again and try again."

Quitting smoking can be difficult, Glynn acknowledged. "I think people have to look at it as a process, and the Great American Smokeout is designed to help people begin that process," he said.

There are other timely reasons to quit smoking, Glynn said, including the current economic climate. "Ignoring the health benefits, it's a great way to save money. The average smoker spends about $1,500 on cigarettes alone, let alone the increased health-care costs they have and the time lost at work. If you are looking to save money, this is priority one," he said.

Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Each year, it causes 443,000 premature deaths, including 38,000 deaths among nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Half the people who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related diseases, according to the American Cancer Society.

According to the cancer society, there are many good reasons to quit -- and many benefits when you do:

* 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
* 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal.
* two weeks to three months after quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases.
* one to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease and lung function improves.
* one year after quitting, the risk of heart disease is cut in half.
* five years after quitting, the risk of stroke is reduced.
* 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half, and the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas decrease.
* 15 years after quitting, the risk of heart disease is the same as for non-smokers.

Dr. Jordan S. Josephson, director of the New York Nasal and Sinus Center, said the decision to stop smoking has to "come from the heart."

"A lot of people say they want to stop smoking, but truly down deep they are just not ready," he said. "But once you are ready, cold turkey seems to be the best way. Most patients just throw it in the can and they are done with it."

New York lawyer Robert Fastner is a patient of Josephson's who quit three years ago.

"I never thought it would happen," Fastner said. "Nobody who knew me ever thought it would happen. I never thought I had a shot at quitting."

Nearing 50, Fastner noticed he had developed wheezing, chronic colds and sinus infections. "It was almost like you need to quit, but you can't get yourself to do the act. I put in my head -- 'You will not turn 50 and still be smoking,' " he said.

One day he just quit. "Once I actually did it, I never looked back," Fastner said.

More information

For more on quitting smoking, visit the American Cancer Society.

Kicking the Habit

The first step is to choose a stop date, said Thomas J. Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society. "Then work with your family, friends and co-workers to help stay stopped," he said.

Other tips include:

* Getting rid of smoking-related items such as ashtrays, lighters, matches, cigarettes and cigarette butts. This will help avoid temptation.
* Practicing the four "Ds" to reduce the urge to smoke: DEEP breaths. DO something to get your mind off the craving, like going for a walk or calling a friend. DRINK lots of water -- especially when you feel a craving. DELAY going for a cigarette -- the urge will pass.
* Changing routines associated with smoking.

Also remember that smoking urges are the worst during the first two weeks after quitting, so avoid situations in which you usually smoked. And use aids such as nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges or prescription medications. Hypnosis and acupuncture work for some people.

Finally, call help lines such as the American Cancer Society's Quitline (1-800-ACS-2345), or visit the society's Web site: www.cancer.org/greatamericans.

-Steven Reinberg

SOURCES: Thomas J. Glynn, Ph.D., director, cancer science and trends, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Jordan S. Josephson, M.D., director, New York Nasal and Sinus Center, New York City; Robert Fastner, New York City

Last Updated: Nov. 20, 2008

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