ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
CAREGIVING
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Milk Destroys Antioxidant Benefits in Blueberries
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
EYE CARE, VISION
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
FITNESS
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
Maximize Your Run
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Add your Article

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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