Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cutting Back on Cigarettes?

Cutting Back on Cigarettes?

Provided by: DrWeil.com

Q: I know I should quit smoking, but so far, no luck. However, I have cut back to about five cigarettes a day, way below the number I used to smoke. How does this affect my risks of smoking-related diseases? -- Mia M.

A: The timing of your question is perfect. Today is the 29th Great American Smokeout, an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to challenge smokers to quit. I hope you'll participate and will make an effort to stop smoking completely.

While cutting back on cigarettes can reduce your risk of lung cancer, if you continue to smoke just a few cigarettes a day, your risk is still significantly higher than that of nonsmokers. Danish researchers looked at this issue in a study that followed nearly 20,000 men and women for as long as 31 years. The findings, published in the Sept. 28, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that smokers who cut back from 20 cigarettes daily to fewer than 10 reduced their risk of lung cancer by about 27 percent.

Participants who quit during the study lowered their risk by 50 percent compared to heavy smokers (defined in this study as those who smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day). Former smokers who participated lowered their cancer risk by 83 percent. Of course, risks were lowest of all among nonsmokers.

Another study, in Norway, found that men who smoked only one to four cigarettes per day had a risk of dying of lung cancer that was three times higher than men who didn't smoke at all. Women who smoked one to four cigarettes daily were five times more likely to die of lung cancer than women who didn't smoke. What's more, this study found a significantly increased risk of dying from heart disease or other causes among both men and women who smoked only one to four cigarettes a day.

The study was published in the October 2005 issue of Tobacco Control.
Please commit yourself today to making further efforts to stop smoking. You can get help by calling the American Cancer Society's Quitline at 1-877-YES-QUIT. You also might explore the smoking cessation program designed by my colleague Steve Gurgevich, Ph.D., who uses hypnosis to help motivated people quit, in his Smoking: Hypnotic Tonic to Remove Tobacco Addiction CD set.

Andrew Weil, M.D. –Author of:
Eight Weeks to Optimum Health
Spontaneous Healing
The Natural Mind
The Marriage of the Sun and Moon
Health and Healing
Natural Health, Natural Medicine
From Chocolate to Morphine (with Winifred Rosen)

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