Heart disease, lung cancer and stroke are just three of the many health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but only 6 percent are successful.
But researchers have found a new way to increase the chances of success.
According to the CDC, more than 37 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, even though we've heard the warnings for years.
"Tobacco use, smoking, is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in our society," Dr. Steven Zucker said.
But quitting isn't easy.
"Stopping smoking is really difficult," Zucker said. "Most people take multiple attempts before they're able to quit."
Researchers from Oregon State University found that if you want to quit smoking, cut back on alcohol. They found that a drinker's nicotine metabolite ratio, a biomarker for how quickly a person's body metabolizes nicotine, reduced when they cut back on drinking.
People with a lower ratio have an easier time going cold turkey and are more likely to be successful when using nicotine replacement products. So, if you want to ditch the cigarettes, ditch those cocktails too.
Many experts suggest also signing up for a stop-smoking group. This can hold you accountable and provide you with support and peers to lean on.
DEADLY BUT PREVENTABLE: UP IN SMOKE!
BACKGROUND: Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion a year, including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity. In 2016, an estimated 37.8 million of U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers. Of these, 76.1% smoked every day. Over 7,000 chemicals have been identified in cigarettes and cigarette smoke to date, 93 of which are harmful or potentially harmful, and more than 70 of which can cause cancer. These ingredients and additives affect everything from the internal functioning of your organs to the efficiency of your body's immune system. Nicotine reaches the brain in 7 to 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled. Nicotine has been found in every part of a smoker's body, including breast milk. Carbon monoxide, which is present in cigarette smoke, binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing these cells from carrying all of the oxygen they normally would. This can lead to symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/data/cigarette-smoking-in-united-states.html and https://www.verywellmind.com/facts-and-statistics-about-cigarette-smoking-2825328)
WAYS TO QUIT SMOKING: About 90 percent of people who try to quit smoking do it without outside support… no aids, therapy, or medicine. Although most people try to quit this way, it's not the most successful method. Only about 5 percent to 7 percent are able to quit on their own. Behavioral therapy involves working with a counselor to find ways not to smoke. Together, you'll find your triggers (such as emotions or situations that make you want to smoke) and make a plan to get through the cravings. Nicotine replacement therapy can include nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, and lozenges. They work by giving you nicotine without the use of tobacco. Prescription medication can be used such as bupropion and varenicline that can help with your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Combo treatments might be more likely to help you quit for good if you use a mix of different methods. For example, using both a nicotine patch and gum may be better than a patch alone. Other helpful combinations include behavioral therapy and nicotine replacement therapy; prescription medication with a nicotine replacement therapy patch; and a nicotine replacement therapy patch and nicotine spray. The FDA hasn't approved using two types of nicotine replacement therapies at the same time, so be sure to talk with a doctor first. (Source: https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/quit-smoking#1)
MAPPING NICOTINE ADDICTION: A scientific blueprint to end tobacco cravings may be on the way after researchers crystallized a protein that holds answers to how nicotine addiction occurs in the brain. The breakthrough at the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute comes after decades of failed attempts to crystallize and determine the 3D structure of a protein that scientists expect will help them develop new treatments by understanding nicotine's molecular effects. "It's going to require a huge team of people and a pharmaceutical company to study the protein and develop the drugs, but I think this is the first major stepping stone to making that happen," said Dr. Ryan Hibbs, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Biophysics with the O'Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The expectation is that the 3D structures will help researchers understand how nicotine influences the activity of the receptor and lead to a medication that mimics its actions in the brain. The finding may also have benefits in creating medications for certain types of epilepsy, mental illness, and dementia such as Alzheimer's, which are also associated with the nicotinic receptor. However, Dr. Hibbs cautioned that testing of any ensuing treatment would likely take many years. (Source: https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/articles/year-2016/nicotine-hibbs.html)