Life After Cigarettes One Year Out: A Few Updates

Now that Life After Cigarettes has been out for a year and some change, I thought it might be an opportune moment to sift through my follow-up file and provide a few updates:

In Chapter 4, I mentioned evidence that in addition to increasing physical activity, it’s important to reduce sedentary time.  A new study by Em­man­u­el Sta­matakis and colleagues in the American Journal of Cardiology tracked over 4,500 Scottish men (Now, why do so many studies focus on men only? Where were all those Scottish women?) and concluded that too much sitting could reduce if not reverse the benefits of exercise. How much is too much? Wait for it: Two or more leisure hours/day in front of a screen doubled the risk of a cardiac event and four or more hours per day were associated with a 50% increase in the likelihood of dying from any cause. A lot of us are in trouble! My own solution (which so far as I know has never had the benefit of scientific testing) is to set a timer for 30 minutes when I sit at the computer and get up and do something else – anything else (except maybe eating) – for a few minutes whenever it rings.  Getting up and exercising or just walking around during TV commercials is a similar strategy.

In Chapter 8, I spoke of my old, unrealized dream of using age progression software to allow women to visualize two different images of themselves in ten years: 1) how they might look if they continue to smoke; and 2) how they might look if they quit smoking today.  The keep-smoking version would show more signs of aging, wrinkling, and graying; the woman would appear somewhat thinner, to be sure, but also more haggard and less shapely.  I recently received an e-mail from a colleague captioned “You were right!!!” and citing a new article in the British Journal of Psychology entitled “Women smokers’ experiences of an age-appearance anti-smoking intervention: A qualitative study.”  In this study, Sarah Grogan and colleagues used age-progression software to morph a photo of each participant’s face into smoking vs. not-smoking versions of herself at 2-year intervals.  The authors reported that irrespective of parental status, age, or whether they were pregnant, participants reported that the images provoked a strong fear of visible aging, especially skin wrinkling, that translated to increased motivation to quit smoking.  Further research will now be needed to confirm that that increased motivation to quit translates to actual quitting,

Under “Additional Reading and Resources” for Chapter 5, I cited Charla Krupp’s book How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, and 10 Times Better.  If you liked this book, or if you’re still too young to worry about looking old but have an interest in dressing thin, you might want to check out her latest book How to Never Look Fat Again: Over 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner – Without Dieting! (Springboard Press, 2010). The kindle and hardcover editions are already available and the paperback version will be out in March.  Like its predecessor, this book devotes each chapter to a single problem area (arm flap, big bust, muffin top, Buddha belly, etc.) and offers dozens of suggestions for nondietary, nonexercise, and (mostly) nonsurgical approaches to dealing with them. Photos provide horrible examples of what not to wear as well as alternatives that achieve the desired effect.

In a previous blog post I discussed food addiction.  The link between food consumption and addictive behaviors, the neurobiological processes underlying this link, and the ways in which the food and advertising industries capitalize on it, are important areas of study for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, led by Dr. Kelly Brownell.  Visit the Rudd Center’s website for further information on this and related topics.

My goal is to keep Life After Cigarettes fresh, vital, and in tune with the latest scientific research, so watch my blog for periodic updates like this one.

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