Light Smokers: Quit While You’re Ahead

On July 20, Jane E. Brody, in her New York Times column on Personal Health, gave a painful and moving account of her husband’s intractable addiction to cigarettes despite numerous efforts to quit. Although he finally succeeded at the age of 61, his 50 years of smoking eventually took their toll in the form of a decade of suffering from emphysema and finally death from lung cancer.  He...
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Craving Busters

Experts argue about the term that most accurately describes that longing for a cigarette, that itch that cries out for scratching, but no confirmed smoker has any problem identifying the experience.  Craving, urge, desire – whatever you choose to call it – can emerge in half an hour or even less after smoking in an ongoing smoker and is the reason many attempts to quit founder within...
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An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Dear Michelle Obama, A New York Times article published on July 8 highlighted our national failure to reach “Healthy People 2010” goal of reducing high school smoking to 16%. The decline in smoking rates among high school students from 34.8% in 1995 to 21.9% in 2003 had led to earlier optimism that this trajectory would continue, but recently progress has stalled, with high school cigarette...
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Move a Little, Lose a Lot: A Review

I rely on regular attendance at aerobics classes to help keep my weight under control.  But although a recent week of babysitting my grandchildren (the reason, BTW, for no blog post last week) kept me too busy to visit the gym, the needle on the scale held steady.  James A. Levine, MD, PhD would undoubtedly call that a textbook example of NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis) in action ...
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Life After Cigarettes – Beyond Quitting

I’m often asked how I came to write Life After Cigarettes. “Aren’t there already a lot of how-to-stop-smoking books already?” “Does the world really need another how-to-quit book, even one with a special focus on women and weight concerns?” Indeed there are a lot of how-to-stop-smoking books. Many of them are of dubious value – written either by charlatans or more often by...
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To Be Happy, Try Acting Happy

The link between smoking and depression is well-documented.  Smoking can relieve depression, and depressed mood can emerge as a withdrawal symptom after quitting, particularly in people with a tendency towards depression to begin with.  Severe depression is relatively uncommon and may require medical intervention; for the more mundane blues and blahs that may plague quitters, here’s something...
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Is Cessation-Related Weight Gain Temporary?

I recently blogged about the Rule of Thirds – the myth that only a third of smokers gain weight after quitting (with a third remaining the same and a third actually losing weight).  This would be nice if it were true but it simply is not.  The large majority of quitters gain weight.  Only a handful actually lose weight, and as I have suggested elsewhere, some of those who do may be suffering...
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Food Addiction?

Take a naturally-occurring mildly addictive substance (there are many), then refine and redesign it so it’s more addictive – maybe much more addictive. There are lots of ways to do this.  You can combine it with other substances that enhance its addictive properties, you can modify the vehicle so that it’s easier to ingest or can be ingested via a route that reaches the brain...
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“Let’s Eat Out Tonight”

Inns providing food along with a place to curl up for the night have undoubtedly existed for as long as people have been traveling in large enough numbers to justify the effort.  Establishments where people go for better or fancier food than they eat at home, however, or even just for gastronomic variety, are a more recent phenomenon.  Some historians trace the rise of the modern restaurant to...
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The Skinny on Thin

A group of researchers at Brigham Young University recently reported on a study in which they exposed groups of men and women to pictures of obese same-sex individuals wearing swimsuits, and then instructed to imagine someone saying “your body looks like hers/his.” Participants were selected for being slim and having no history of eating disorders.  Imaging techniques were used to...
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