Cigarette smoke damages DNA in reproductive cells of fathers, these changes inherited by offspring

FromMedical Xpress News.
These inherited changes in DNA could render developing offspring susceptible to later diseases, providing evidence for quitting smoking before trying to conceive.

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Why It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

FromTime Magazine:

If you’ve been a lifelong smoker, you might be thinking, Why quit now when the damage is already done? But a recent study finds that even the oldest smokers can reap significant benefits from kicking the habit.

Based on a review of previous studies, three researchers from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg determined that smokers over the age of 60 could reduce their risk of premature death 28% by quitting.

The review included 17 studies from the U.S., China, Australia, Japan, England, Spain and France that tracked anywhere from 863 to 877,243 people for follow-up periods of three to 50 years. Overall, the study found that current smokers had the highest absolute mortality rates in all studies: smokers over the age of 60 were 83% more likely to die, compared with people who never smoked. In comparison, former smokers over the age of 60 were 34% more likely to die than never-smokers. That’s a 28% decline in death risk between current smokers and former smokers.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Tai Hing Lam of the University of Hong Kong further calculated reductions in risk by age: quitting smoking reduced premature death risk by 21% for people in their 60s, by 27% for people in their 70s, and by 24% for those in their 80s.

The risk of death “notably decreases with time since smoking cessation even at older age,” the authors write. In other words, the longer it had been since people quit, the lower their risk of premature death.

“Even older people who smoked for a lifetime without negative health consequences should be encouraged and supported to quit smoking,” the authors write.

“Many older smokers misbelieve that they are too old to quit or too old to benefit from quitting. Because of reverse causality and from seeing deaths of old friends who had quit recently, some misbelieve that quitting could be harmful,” Dr. Lam writes. “A simple, direct, strong and evidence-based warning is needed.”

Lam advises physicians to help their patients quit smoking by referring to the acronym, AWARD:

Ask about smoking
Warn smoking patients by saying, “If you continue to smoke, your chance of dying from smoking-induced diseases (such as cancer, heart diseases, stroke and respiratory and many other serious diseases) is 50% (67% for the very young; 40% for the very old).”
Advise, “If you quit now, your risk will be greatly reduced (by 25% at old age, and by much more before age 40 years).”
Refer to a cessation clinic or hotline
Do it again until they quit. If you have helped 2 smokers quit, you have saved at least 1 life.

The study and editorial are published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Want to quit smoking? Try acupuncture or hypnosis

Acupuncture and hypnosis have been promoted as drug-free ways to help smokers kick the habit, and there is some evidence that they work, according to a research review that looked at 14 international studies.

Researchers, whose findings appeared in the American Journal of Medicine, said that there are still plenty of questions, including exactly how effective alternative therapies might be and how they measure up against conventional methods to quit smoking.

But the alternatives should still stand as options for smokers determined to break the habit, said researchers led by Mehdi Tahiri of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

In general, smokers who want to quit should first try the standard approaches, which include nicotine-replacement therapy, medications and behavioral counseling, Tahiri said.

“But some people are not interested in medication,” he said, adding that in many cases the standard therapies had not worked. “Then I think we should definitely recommend (acupuncture and hypnosis) as choices.”

Researchers found that some studies showed that smokers subjected to acupuncture were more than three times as likely to be tobacco-free six months to a year later.

Similarly, across four trials of hypnosis, smokers had a higher success rate with the therapy compared to people who had minimal help.

But there were some caveats, researchers said. The success rate was not consistent in all the tests conducted, although the broad trends pointed to the benefits of alternate treatment.

A 2008 study that ran a few sessions of laser acupuncture on 258 smokers found that 55% who’d received the treatment quit the habit in six months, compared with 4% who were not given the treatment.

But a 2007 study from Taiwan that looked at needle acupuncture around the ear, the area typically targeted for smoking cessation, reported a lower success rate.

Only 9% of those who were given acupuncture had quit after six months compared with six percent who stopped smoking without the treatment.

The situation was similar across the hypnosis trials. Two studies showed a significant impact : 20 to 45 percent of hypnosis patients were smoke-free six months to a year later. The other two trials showed smaller effects.

Nonetheless, Tahiri said, there was a “trend” toward a benefit across all of the studies of acupuncture and hypnosis.

There are still definitely questions, he added, about how many sessions of acupuncture or hypnosis might be necessary, or which specific techniques are best.

Other research reviews, though, have concluded that the jury is still out on alternative therapies for quitting smoking.