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Posts Tagged ‘Smoking cessation’

WebMD – How to Avoid Gaining Weight When You Quit Smoking

Posted by 4love2love on July 26, 2011

By Peter Jaret
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Many smokers worry that they’ll gain weight if they try to quit. Some even use that concern as a reason not to quit.

“That’s a bad idea for many reasons,” says Scott McIntosh, PhD, associate professor of community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester in New York and director of the Greater Rochester Area Tobacco Cessation Center. “Not every smoker who quits gains weight.” Even those who do, he points out, gain on average just 4 to 10 pounds.

Indeed, for many ex-smokers, putting on a few pounds is healthy. Research shows that smoking actually makes some people unhealthily thin.

Still, if you’re worried, remember this: a few simple strategies can help limit weight gain while you kick the habit. Once you have successfully broken the addiction to tobacco, you can work on losing any weight you’ve gained.

Smoking and Metabolism

Research shows that nicotine from tobacco boosts the body’s metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories it burns. Immediately after you smoke a cigarette, your heart rate increases by 10 to 20 beats a minute. The unnatural stimulant effect of nicotine is one reason smoking causes heart disease.

When smokers quit, metabolic rate quickly returns to normal. That’s a healthy change. But if ex-smokers keep getting the same number of calories as before, they put on pounds.

Be Smart About What You Put in Your Mouth

When smokers quit, nicotine isn’t all they crave. They also discover that they miss the habit of lighting a cigarette and putting it to their mouths. Many smokers turn to food to satisfy this so-called need for “oral gratification.”

That’s fine if it helps you to quit. But by choosing low-calorie or zero-calorie foods, you can avoid putting on weight. Some smart alternatives include:

  • Sugar-free gum
  • Sugar-free hard candies
  • Celery or carrot sticks
  • Sliced sweet peppers
  • Slices of jicama

Experiment to find which alternatives work best for you. Research shows that some smokers who quit experience a sharpened “sweet tooth.” They’re better off finding foods sweetened with artificial sugar. Some smokers really miss the oral gratification of smoking. They do best finding alternatives that require unwrapping something and chewing or sucking on it, such as sugar-free gum and hard candy.

Another trick is to brush your teeth frequently throughout the day. This can satisfy a passing craving for oral gratification. When your mouth is fresh and clean, you may have less of an urge to smoke.

Avoid Crash Diets

Choose healthy foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories whenever you can. But experts advise against radical changes in how you eat. “Quitting is tough enough without adding the stress of extreme dieting,” says Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of San Francisco.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations

Many smokers do gain some weight. It’s fine to resolve to do everything you can to keep your weight down. But don’t make weight a make-or-break issue. “It’s important to tell yourself right at the beginning that it’s OK to put on some weight,” says McIntosh. “Don’t be too tough on yourself.”

Stay Busy

To distract yourself from the urge to smoke, fill your day with things to do that don’t involve eating. Physical activities — walking, gardening, doing chores — are a great choice. They burn calories, of course. And research shows that they also have a positive effect on mood. But any kind of distraction from the urge to smoke will help. Examples include:

  • Watching a movie
  • Attending a concert
  • Going to the library to read
  • Visiting a local museum
  • Calling a friend
  • Volunteering

“Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find smoke-free places to go these days,” says Schroeder. “That trend has helped to make it easier for smokers to quit.”

Talk With Your Doctor

A variety of products and medications are available that have been found to help smokers quit. Several also appear to help quitters keep weight off. In a 2009 review, researchers found that the antismoking drug buproprion and the antidepressant fluoxetine, as well as nicotine replacement therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy, helped limit the amount of weight that smokers gained while quitting.

Keep Your Health in Perspective

If you do gain extra pounds while you kick the habit, don’t let that derail your efforts. “By quitting smoking, you can add years to your life — and years of being in good health rather than sick and disabled,” says McIntosh. “Those extra pounds are a small price to pay.” Once you’re tobacco-free, you’ll have plenty of time to get into shape and achieve a healthy weight.

Reviewed on January 24, 2011
© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
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WebMD – Why Some Smokers Have a Harder Time Quitting

Posted by 4love2love on June 25, 2011

Study Shows Variation in Brain May Give Some Smokers More Pleasure From Nicotine
By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

smoker and double helix overlay

May 16, 2011 — Quitting smoking is never easy, but some smokers have an even harder time kicking the habit, and now new research suggests that they may derive more pleasure form nicotine.

The new study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may also help foster the development of more effective quitting strategies for certain smokers.

Researchers used PET scans to capture images of the number of “mu-opioid receptors” in the brains of smokers. Smokers with greater numbers of these receptors seem to derive more pleasure from nicotine, and as a result may have a harder time quitting.

“The brain’s opioid system plays a role in smoking rewards, and quitting smoking and some of the variability in our ability to quit among smokers is attributable to genetic factors,” says study researcher Caryn Lerman, PhD, director of Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“The ability to quit smoking is influenced by a number of psychological, social, and environmental factors, but also genetic factors,” she says. “For some people, genetic variations may make it more difficult to quit than for someone else who smokes the same amount for same amount of time,” Lerman says.

The study findings are more applicable to quitting smoking than becoming addicted in the first place, she says.

New Quitting Strategies/Tools Needed

There may be a role for personalized medicine when it comes to smoking cessation, Lerman says.  Personalized medicine takes the trial and error out of matching treatments by making decisions based on genetic profiles.

“Based on a person’s genetic background, we can select the optimal treatment,” she says. “It is a two-pronged approach of developing new medications and being able to make the best choice for a particular person based on existing options.”

Importantly, even diehard smokers should not take these findings to mean they can’t quit, she says.

“Don’t become fatalistic,” she says. “You may need particular approaches tailored to you,” she says. Going forward, “we hope to study this pathway in more detail to understand whether examining genetic background and the numbers of brain receptors can help us choose the right treatments for the right individual.”

Raymond S. Niaura, PhD, an associate director for science at the Schroeder Institute of the American Legacy Foundation, an antismoking group based in Washington, D.C., says that “there are genetic influences involved in becoming addicted to nicotine and tobacco and on how hard it is to quit smoking.”

The new findings provide “a peek into the genetic and underlying brain processes responsible for nicotine addiction,” he says.

Daniel Seidman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of medical psychology and the director of Smoking Cessation Services at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, agrees.“There are a lot of smokers and everybody gets lumped together, but there are a lot of patterns like with other types of addiction.”

This paper “points to a biological or genetic substrate which predisposes some people to have a hard time,” he says. Quitting smoking can be emotionally charged, he says. Symptoms typically include irritability, anger, and sad mood. “Some people are able to rally more and some may not bounce back as well because they have a harder time finding alternative sources of pleasure,” he says.

Agreeing with Niaura, Seidman says that some smokers seem to need nicotine replacement for longer periods of time. “When they come off nicotine patches or gum, it doesn’t feel right and it may be related to this subtype,” he says. “This is not a problem because nicotine replacement doesn’t cause cancer or go into yourlungs.”

People with this particular genetic variation may benefit from extended treatment, he says. “They may have a certain kind of sensitivity to nicotine, which could explain why they became addicted in the first place and why they may need to use nicotine replacement for a longer time than others.”

 

© 2011 WebMD, LLC.

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