Smoking risk, danger, health concerns, cessation, natural ways to quit, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 1 2017


The number of American adults who light up fell in 2015 to a new low of just 15 percent, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable early death in the United States as well as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, many cancers, COPD, and type 2 diabetes.


If you really want to give up smoking then do it. Research by British scientists shows that smokers who decide to quit immediately, without making plans about how or when, are more likely to succeed. Exposure to second-hand smoke has long-term adverse effects on respiratory health. This reaffirms the benefits of banning smoking in public places. Tobacco promotions and depictions of smoking in movies cause teenagers to start smoking. Smoking hookah can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers.
   Damage to the brain "insula" -- a silver dollar-sized area located deep in the brain, surrounded by the cerebral cortex, disrupts the addiction to cigarette smoking and makes kicking the habit much easier. Menthol cigarettes likely pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes since they are more addictive, July 2013 journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.


A 2016 report by the U.S. surgeon general greatly broadens the list of diseases linked to cigarettes. In addition to lung cancer and heart disease, the list includes liver and colorectal cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune function, ectopic pregnancy and erectile dysfunction.


Smoking, Folic acid, and B Vitamins
Chronic smoking is associated with a lower body amounts of several B vitamins, reduced oral folic acid, and changes in folate form distribution in the mouth. Arjuna has been tested in smokers with positive benefits on the endothelium of blood vessels.

Alternative treatment for smoking cessation
Acupuncture  - There is no consistent evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, or electrostimulation are effective for smoking cessation, but no firm conclusions can yet be drawn. There could be individuals who are able to stop smoking with acupuncture treatment, but the research is still not fully clear.

Guided imagery may help one quit smoking but it is not for everyone.
Moderate exercise, such as walking, reduces the intensity of smokers' nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Chlorella supplementation is of benefit.


SAM-e, the over the counter anti-depressant, can be of benefit in terms of mood elevation.


St. John's wort herb for smoking cessation - Antidepressants may be effective treatment for smoking cessation and new evidence on relationship between smoking and depression is emerging. Extracts of the St. John's wort plant possess antidepressant activity in humans and reduce nicotine withdrawal signs in mice. St. John's wort may influence several neurotransmitters, including serotonin.


5HTP is a natural supplement that converts into the brain chemical serotonin, perhaps it can be helpful in reducing the urge to smoke. This serotonin precursor taken orally as a supplement helps balance mood and cravings.


Q. What is the right dosage for mucuna pruriens to quit smoking?
   A. I am not aware of mucuna herb being effective for this purpose.


Former tobacco smokers find e-cigarettes less addictive than traditional cigarettes.


Smoking and Human Health
Smoking can cause a wide range of diseases, including the following:

Cancer - in addition to the toxins found in cigarette smoke, nicotine itself can be a cancer promoter. Cigarette smoking significantly increases the risk of cervical cancer associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16.
   Old tobacco smoke does more than simply make a room smell stale - it can leave cancer-causing toxins behind. These agents called tobacco-specific nitrosamines stick to a variety of surfaces, where they can get into dust or be picked up on the fingers. Children and infants are the most likely to pick them up.

   Cigarette smoking increases a woman's risk of developing cancer of the cervix, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and with the younger the age at which smoking began. Women who smoke cigarettes may have a tougher time clearing the HPV virus linked to cervical cancer from their bodies. At least 70 percent of sexually active women will become infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives. HPV infection is temporary most of the time, but longer-term infection with high-risk strains of the virus is a key factor in the development of precancerous changes in the cervix and of cervical cancer. Smoking has been linked to cervical cancer. Smoking may increase a woman's likelihood of developing a persistent HPV infection by causing immunosuppression in the cervix and taking longer for the HPV to clear the body.


E-cigarette vapor can contain cancer-causing formaldehyde at levels up to 15 times higher than regular cigarettes.
Teenagers who vape e-cigarettes which have higher nicotine levels are more prone to begin smoking conventional cigarettes later on.


In addition to the well-known hazards of lung cancer, artery disease, heart attacks, chronic lung disease and stroke, smoking is also linked to significantly increased risks of infection, kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, and heart and lung ailments not previously attributed to tobacco.


Many young people consider hookahs a hip and safer way to smoke, but fumes from the water pipes contain the toxin benzene, linked to an increased risk for leukemia. Nov. 21, 2014 journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Hookah tobacco smoking is not a safe alternative to smoking other forms of tobacco.

Gum disease is increased in those who smoke
Heart disease and heart attack - All forms of tobacco consumption -- smoking, chewing and second hand smoke -- raise the risk of heart attack. Research from Italy provides additional evidence that banning smoking in public places may help prevent heart attacks, at least over the short term. After the Italian government's law against smoking in indoor public spaces took effect in January 2005, hospital admissions for heart attack in the Piedmont region fell 11 percent among people under 60 years old, according to Dr. Francesco Barone-Adesi of the University of Turin.
   Cigarette smokers have stiffer arteries than nonsmokers but suggests these adverse blood vessel changes are reversible with smoking cessation, although it may take more than a decade off cigarettes for the arteries to recover.
   People who quit smoking after a balloon angioplasty to improve blood flow to the heart live an average of two years longer than those who keep going with this bad habit.
Helicobacter pylori infection that cause stomach ulcer
Hypertension risk is increased with chronic smoking.
Kidney disease - People with type 2 diabetes who smoke cigarettes are more than twice as likely as non-smokers to have impaired kidney function.
Lung disease and upper respiratory disease. Beneficial bacteria in the nose and throat soon return to normal levels after quitting smoking. Harmless microbes that reside in the nasal passages and throat help prevent disease-causing bacteria from getting a foothold. Levels of these so-call "interfering bacteria" are reduced in smokers.
Smoking may increase the risk of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


Blood vessels
Smoking is known to cause atherosclerosis of not just heart vessels, but also vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain. In addition to damaging blood vessels, smoking causes constriction of arteries, clot formation leading to myocardial infarction, oxidation, and raised blood pressure.


Doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics to treat cough in patients who smoke, but smokers get no more benefit from the drugs than non-smokers do. ERJ Express, 2009.


The likelihood of suffering major depression seems to be increased among smokers, especially those who smoke heavily. Researchers in Norway who followed a population-based group of adults for 11 years found that those who smoked were more likely to become depressed, and the risk climbed in tandem with the number of cigarettes puffed each day. Heavy smokers -- those who burned through more than 20 cigarettes a day -- were four times more likely than people who'd never smoked to develop depression. A number of factors the researchers considered -- including physical health, exercise and stressful life events -- failed to explain the link with depression. This suggests that smoking may directly contribute to the development of the mood disorder. For instance, nicotine may over time change brain levels of the emotion-related chemical serotonin, which appears to be reduced in people with depression.


People with recurrent depression are much less likely to be able to effectively quit smoking.


Smoking, often marketed as a symbol of virility, increases the risk of impotence. Men who smoke are up to 40 percent more likely to suffer from impotence than those who don't. The more cigarettes, the greater the risk of suffering from a sexual performance problem.


Blood sugar
Exposure to second-hand smoke can increase a person's risk of developing glucose intolerance, which is a precursor to diabetes. Smokers have the highest risk of developing glucose intolerance but non-smokers who breath in other people's smoke are not far behind. Passive tobacco exposure in never-smokers is a risk factor for glucose intolerance. People suffering from glucose intolerance have elevated blood sugar levels. They still produce insulin but the amounts are insufficient to control blood sugar levels effectively.


Alcohol use
For alcoholics whose drinking brings on cognitive deficits, smoking seems to retard their cognitive recovery when they go on the wagon. Long-term chronic alcohol drinking of the amount that alcoholics do leads to abnormalities of brain structure, chemistry, and blood flow as well as cognition. Alcoholics may appear to be functioning normally, but cognitive tests will usually reveal abnormalities. So it stands to reason that diminished cognition should reverse itself when alcoholics stop drinking alcohol. But cognitive recovery can be retarded by cigarette smoking, at least during the first month of abstinence from alcohol. Smoking appears to interfere with metabolic brain recovery and cognitive improvement.


Lung disease, cancer
Everyone knows that this bad habit increases the risk for COPD and lung cancer. Children who are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke appear to be at increased risk of developing early emphysema later in life.

Despite large declines in smoking rates, cigarettes still cause about one-third of cancer deaths in the United States.


Mental decline
Elderly smokers experience a greater loss in the ability to think, perceive, and remember than people who never smoked or who have quit smoking. The mental decline of elderly smokers may be tied to silent strokes-very small strokes that go unnoticed. Smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke may also be linked to an increased risk of hearing loss.
    Cigarette smokers have lower IQs than non-smokers, and the more a person smokes, the lower their IQ. Addiction, February 2010.


Smoking during pregnancy reduces blood flow to the developing fetus and, in turn, retards growth.


Children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy may be at risk of becoming overweight by the age of 8. Although prenatal smoking can cause low birth weight, it may raise the odds of excessive weight gain in childhood. Besides low birth weight, prenatal smoking has been shown to raise the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and other pregnancy complications.
   Babies of smokers have levels of the nicotine byproduct cotinine in their urine that are several times higher than babies of non-smokers.


Teenagers and adolescents
Ten- to 14-year-olds are about two times more likely to start smoking when they see movie characters smoking -- regardless is the character is a "good guy" or "bad guy."
The availability of flavored tobacco products appears to be a driver of tobacco use in youths.


Second hand smoke
Children as young as 13 who have evidence of secondhand smoke in their blood also have visibly thicker arteries. Damage caused by secondhand tobacco smoke starts in childhood and causes measurable damage by the teen years. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, online March 2, 2010.


Benefit of quitting smoking
This offers health benefits that occur rather quickly, within days or weeks. Some of the benefits include: Within several hours of quitting, there is a drop in the level of carbon monoxide in the body , while oxygen levels begin to rise back to normal. After several days, taste and smell are enhanced, breathing becomes easier, improvement in blood flow occurs through small arteries and capillaries, and people do not get as tired when doing physical activity. After a few weeks coughing and nasal congestion are reduced or disappear.


Prescrire Int. 2015. E-cigarettes and smoking cessation. Similar efficacy to other nicotine delivery devices, but many uncertainties. E-cigarettes, marketed as an alternative to conventional cigarettes, are designed to transform a solution of variable composition, with or without nicotine, into an aerosol that the user inhales. How effective are e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation, and what are their known adverse effects? Bronchial disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders and ocular irritation have been reported with inhaled propylene glycol. The effects of propylene glycol and glycerol, when heated and inhaled over long periods, are not known. The addictive effect is difficult to determine. Long-term use of e-cigarettes has been observed in about one-third of people who stopped smoking. Toxic or carcinogenic substances have been found in some e-cigarette aerosols, but at lower concentrations than in tobacco smoke. The diversity in the composition of e-liquids and the lack of proper controls make it difficult to assess the associated dangers. In early 2015, e-cigarettes containing nicotine appear to have efficacy similar to that of other nicotine delivery systems as an aid to smoking cessation. Apart from the effects of nicotine, there are few known adverse effects. However, there are many uncertainties as to the composition of the different e-liquids and the long-term effects of the substances when they are heated and inhaled. There is no reason to discourage smokers from substituting the proven, serious harms of tobacco smoke with the potential and poorly defined harms associated with e-cigarettes.


Smoking and Chemicals in Cigarettes - Deceiving the Public
Scientists and a leading anti-smoking group have called for an overhaul of how toxins in cigarette smoke are measured after industry documents showed how they can be used to deceive smokers. Tar and nicotine content, the cancer-causing and addictive elements of cigarettes is tested on machines. But because of the way people smoke, blocking filters or taking deeper drags on so-called light or mild low tar brands, the levels they receive are actually higher than a machine reading would be. In a review of documents on smoking behavior by Imperial Tobacco Ltd and British American Tobacco, researchers said BAT specifically developed cigarettes knowing this. Industry documents show BAT knew smokers compensated for the low tar, promoted as a safer option, by taking deeper puffs more often. So although cigarette packs say the yields of tar and nicotine based on ISO standard may be only a fraction of the level of regular cigarettes, smokers receive much more. The anti-smoking group ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) described the research published online by the Lancet medical journal as another example of the disgraceful behavior of the tobacco industry. ASH says the measurements of tar and nicotine should be taken off cigarette packaging because they do not provide any meaningful information for consumers.


Water pipes, are they safer?
Compared to cigarette smoking, a waterpipe -- also called a hookah or shisha -- delivers more deadly carbon monoxide and roughly the same amount of addictive nicotine, according to Dr. Thomas Eissenberg of the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Waterpipe tobacco smokers and cigarette smokers almost certainly face many of the same health risks. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 2009.


How to Quit Smoking
Counseling over the telephone helps them kick the habit. A study, led by Lawrence An of the University of Minnesota, attempted to determine if "quit lines" offered benefits. A group of military veterans who had committed themselves to quit smoking within 30 days received telephone counseling -- about seven calls over a two-month period -- while a separate group of smokers was sent self-help materials. In all, the study included about 800 participants. After three months, nearly 40 percent of those receiving calls from counselors had not smoked in the previous seven days, compared with 10 percent of the control group. Over the long haul, cigarettes proved a tough habit to break. After one year just 13 percent of those counseled by phone and 4 percent in the other group had not smoked during the previous six months.
   Over the past decade, bupropion has become a major pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation in the Western world. Unlike other smoking cessation pharmacotherapies, bupropion is a non-nicotine treatment.
   Want to quit smoking? Try the gym. Smokers who combine exercise with nicotine gum or transdermal patches are more likely to quit than those who rely on nicotine replacement therapy alone. The study was conducted at Otto Wagner Hospital and Lainz Hospital in Austria.


Smoking Stopper?
FDA announced in May 2006 the approval of Chantix ( varenicline tartrate ) tablets, to help cigarette smokers stop smoking. The active ingredient in Chantix, varenicline tartrate, is a new molecular entity that received a priority FDA review because of its significant potential benefit to public health. Chantix acts at sites in the brain affected by nicotine and may help those who wish to give up smoking in two ways: by providing some nicotine effects to ease the withdrawal symptoms and by blocking the effects of nicotine from cigarettes if they resume smoking.
   Cytisine is a prescription medicine available for the treatment of smoking addiction. A cytisine derivative varenicline was approved in 2006 as a smoking cessation drug.

Passive Smoking

Eliminating exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke could reduce the number of deaths related to heart disease in the United States by more than 20,000 a year. The risk from passive smoking is currently estimated to be equivalent to actively smoking one cigarette per day.

Exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, cooking oil and wood -- even a small amount for as little as 10 minutes -- has harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels of men and women.


Second Hand Smoke

The U.S. Surgeon General published comprehensive information about secondhand smoke. The Health
Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke has six major conclusions:

1. Many millions of Americans, both children and adults, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces despite substantial progress in tobacco control.

2. Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death among children and adults who do not smoke.

3. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.

4. Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

5. No risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke has been established.

6. Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate
exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.


Smoking ban in Congress
January 2007 - Declaring an end to "smoke-filled rooms" in the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said smoking would be banned from an ornate meeting area just off the floor of the House of Representatives. In just her second week in power following the Democrats' takeover of Congress, Pelosi put an immediate ban in place in the Speaker's Lobby saying, "Medical science has unquestionably established the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, including an increased risk of cancer and respiratory diseases."The Speaker's Lobby was one of the few remaining places in the Capitol where smoking was permitted.

Q. Do you think resveratrol would help lung tissue if i'm smoking half a pack a day?
   A. I have not seen any research regarding the influence of resveratrol in smokers.

Q. I read a study that said those who partially quit smoking are just as likely to have health problems as those who continue smoking full force. This does not make sense to me.
   A. It does not make sense to me either, perhaps the researchers were not able to statistically pick the minor improvements in health status in those who reduced their smoking.


I am trying to find Nicogel to purchase. This is the only product I have found that actually curbs my desire to smoke and I would like to purchase it, but cannot find it at my local Walgreen stores. I tried looking up the website and it doesn't seem to exist. Called the 800 number on an old box I have but it has been disconnected.
    I am not familiar with the ordering process of Nicogel.


Laburnum seeds of benefit?