Stop smoking -, January 18, 2010
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Stop smoking -, January 18, 2010

Stop Smoking This Year 

By Jennifer Gruden

Yes, it’s bad for you. It also can make you look much older. Here’s why and how to quit smoking, for real.

You know that smoking is bad for you. It raises your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes, and tooth and gum problems.

But according to a recent survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of nicotine replacement therapy brands, NICODERM® and NICORETTE®, Canadian women who smoke may not be aware of some of the other impacts of smoking.

Even though it reads like a list of “things to avoid at midlife,” fewer than two in 10 female smokers surveyed were actually aware of the link between lighting up and increased risks of developing health issues such as:

  • early onset of menopause
  • menstrual irregularities
  • osteoporosis
  • baldness or premature greying of hair
  • weight gain
  • hearing loss and
  • incontinence

But really—smoking makes you look bad.

If that list isn’t scary enough, consider the looks factor. You’d think health would rank higher but as anyone who’s at the gym more for the little black dress than heart health knows, looking good is a great motivator.

So, if you’re spending time looking for fantastic eye creams, consider that smoking reducing blood flow and depriving the skin of the nutrients it needs to repair itself. It contributes to deepening of the wrinkles around the eyes and lips, a dull, washed-out complexion, hollowing of the cheeks and has a negative impact on the health of teeth, hair and nails.

So why is it some of us are still smoking?

Well, quitting is hard. (No kidding.) I spoke with dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett about the reasons why and she suggested that the critical component may be stress.

If you’ve spent years dealing with workplace or family stress by taking a break and having a cigarette, you may need to start by finding other ways to give yourself a break.

In fact a recent controversial book by Quebec psychiatrist Dr. Jean-Jacques Bourque suggests that the reasons for smoking can be more nuanced than many have allowed in the past, and that smokers may be coping with depression. If that’s the case, you may need to find other ways to address any underlying reasons for smoking before you actually “butt out”.

In fact, quitting is very personal. It’s critical to have a plan that’s going to work for you—and that can be very individual. Some people find swapping a new habit in, like going for a walk or exercising, is key, so that you’re not just giving up a bad habit but creating a new one.

Kellett recommends starting with your family physician to create a stop smoking plan that may include hypnosis, nicotine replacement products, development of a support network (even quitting with a friend) and of course, lots of information.

And there is a ton of information out there. Sometimes it seems like quitting smoking is a cause célèbre – something everyone feels good about promoting. If you’re about to quit though, this is a good thing.

Added incentive to quit smoking

This year, if you quit smoking or tobacco use for the month of March (and it counts if you start in January, so you don’t have to wait) you can join the Canadian Cancer Society’s Driven to Quit Challenge. They have an impressive list of prizes, so check it out.

When I ask Dr. Kellett why she’s passionate about helping patients to stop smoking, she sums it up pretty well: “As a physician, our whole thing is that it’s very frustrating to see people with disease that is preventable.”

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