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Surely, Sir, You’re Not Still Smoking….

12 Apr

Hey, everyone.

Just for the record, quitting my 2.5 pack of non-filtered Camels a day (yes, you heard that right) back in 1969 was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’m not exaggerating.  I was completely addicted and couldn’t imagine how I was going to ever stop.  Smoking is the only thing I’ve ever been addicted to.  And if I hadn’t been preggers and terrified of miscarrying (again), I’m not sure I ever would have. 

These were the days of cold turkey - no patches and no pills.  So after I stopped, all I basically thought about, 24/7, was how I was NOT smoking.  This was a full time preoccupation for about 3 years, as I recall.  And for about a decade, I’d have a repeating nightmare that I’d started smoking again, and I’d wake up kicking myself for falling off the wagon after all it had cost me to quit in the first place. Now I would have to go through that torture all over again.  Then I’d realize it was only a dream, and I’d be flooded with relief.  

All of which is to say, good people, if I can do it, so can you.  I may be prouder of this achievement than anything else I’ve ever done, except maybe for having my kids (the first of whom probably saved my life by deciding to come gestate within me). 

In the most recent issue of his terrific Whole Health Chicago newsletter, David Edelberg MD has included his annual Spring rant about smoking.  This is really good information, so I’m taking the liberty of repeating it here, with kudos and thanks for this most excellent source of tips and warnings.  If you want to subscribe for yourself, click here.
What David says is true – smoking is one of the very worst optional things you can do to your health, and quitting is one of the best.  Period.  End of story.  And now, over to you, Dave:

You needn’t bother reading this if you’re a non-smoker or you don’t know a soul who still smokes. If you do know a smoker, do a favor and forward this piece. You never can tell. Your forwarded e-mail might trigger the decision to quit and, believe me, an angel will get its wings.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Globally, every year five million people die from tobacco-related deaths. In dramatic terms, the entire population of Chicago and half its suburbs dies every year.

Researchers at the Harvard Institute of Public Health wanted to determine what effect quitting smoking had on the overall health and longevity of women. They collected data on 104,519 women nurses, ages 30 to 55, over a 24-year period from 1980 to 2004.

Among these women, 12,483 died. Among those who died, approximately 1/3 had never smoked, 1/3 were current smokers, 1/3 were former smokers (two out of three deaths had a smoking history). Among the current smokers, 64% of the deaths were directly caused by smoking. Among the former smokers, 28% of the deaths were caused by smoking. That drop, from 64% to 28% is important. Quitting smoking helps.

The conclusion of the study was that if a woman stops smoking immediately, her risks of developing heart disease as a consequence of smoking start to drop from day one. Unfortunately, her lungs take longer to heal, and these risks continue for 20 years. The length of time you’ve smoked is important too. A teenager who starts smoking and continues through her adult life is in the highest risk group.

Can you stop? Definitely!

I believe that women start smoking to reduce stress and then become addicted to nicotine. If you remember from my book, The Triple Whammy Cure, women are more susceptible to stress because their level of stress-buffering serotonin is only a quarter that of men’s (even as women endure greater stress than men in day-to-day living).

For women, cigarettes act like comfort food for their calming effect. Men, by the way, have much less difficulty quitting than do women, in much the same way that men can give up chocolate (a serotonin booster) in an eye-blink, whereas some women emotionally crumble at the thought.

If you begin by raising your serotonin stress buffer before plunging into quitting, the whole process will be much easier. Following the Triple Whammy Cure guidelines (good nutrition, exercise, sunshine, supplements) will protect you from the shock of having your stress-mollifying Marlboro eliminated. If you happen to be taking an antidepressant (which also raises serotonin) and want to quit smoking, ask your doctor about a temporary dose increase during the withdrawal period. It will help.

In addition, smoking cessation programs do work. The prescription drug Chantix magically kills your interest in cigarettes. Nicotine patches reduce your dependence on nicotine and meeting with a quitting group is quite helpful. In solid clinical studies, acupuncture and Chinese herbs work as well.

Since you don’t smoke, click forward and send this to everyone you know who still lights up. Angels, wings…

OK, somebody forward this to the Prez, OK?

Take care and be well,

 Read More Updates from Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award