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Smoking Cessation in Men

Smoking Cessation in Men

Smoking is often associated with pleasant as well as a highly comforting feeling. And perhaps this is why most people find it quite difficult to quit smoking altogether. Cigarettes not only relax your mind and body, and are usually seen as a form of retreat!

The truth, however, is that cigarettes are full of toxins. And with prolonged smoking, you risk developing a whole host of health complications. In case you didn’t know, nearly seven people die from smoking daily.

Research shows that smoking remains the leading cause of death from diseases such as heart diseases, organ-related cancers as well as respiratory diseases in Singapore. And smoking not only remains a deadly vice but also costs Singapore a whopping $839 in direct health care expenses. Research also reveals that for the smoker and his family, smoking is responsible for many intangible and indirect expenses including reduced work productivity, loss of earning power as well as the negative impact on passive smokers. What’s more, smoking is singlehandedly responsible for more fatalities compared to those caused by AIDS, alcohol, drugs, suicide, and road traffic accidents combined!

In case you were not aware, smoking is the only vice that kills both the smoker and passive smoker alike. What’s even more alarming is that it usually takes ages before smoking-related fatalities can be verified.

Smoking and associated diseases

Cancer:

Cancer is a deadly disease that occurs when your body cells develop out of control, ultimately forming lumps referred to as tumors. These tumors can either be malignant or benign. Whereas benign tumors can be easily managed through surgery and therapies, malignant tumors can be fatal! Tobacco remains the only legal product that kills its users when used as entirely intended!

Lung cancer:

Many individuals usually associate smoking with cancer. Research shows that 30% of cancer fatalities are a result of smoking, attributing to a total of 46,500 deaths annually in the United Kingdom. Tobacco smoke damages your lungs in two ways. Firstly, smoke prevents your lungs from getting rid of harmful and foreign substances. When smoke damages an essential cleansing layer in your lungs, the lungs suffer a buildup of mucus. Your lungs will then attempt to clear this mucus, leading to the smoker’s coughing incidences.

Secondly, the cancer-causing substances that emanate from the smoke and are lodged in the mucus enhance the development of cancerous tumors. Studies have proven that there is a direct link between total exposure to cigarettes and the likelihood of developing lung cancer. Experimental researches that involve painting samples of tar onto the bronchi and skin of laboratory animals lead to malignant change effects.

Even though there have been significant advances in medicine in the last two decades or so, even with early diagnosis and treatment, cancer sufferers still have less than ten percent of surviving for more than five years after contracting cancer. Today, every smoker’s best line of defense is to stop smoking altogether. And if you haven’t yet started smoking, stay away from the habit completely!

Research also shows that your risk of developing lung cancer significantly reduces when you quit smoking. The statistics below summarizes the existing relationship between smoking and the risk of developing cancer of the lungs.

  • If you smoke ten cigarettes daily, your risk is between five and ten times higher than that of a non-smoker.
  • If you smoke twenty cigarettes daily, the risk is between ten and fifteen times higher than that of a non-smoker.
  • If you smoke thirty cigarettes daily, the risk is between fifteen and twenty times higher than that of a non-smoker.
  • If you smoke forty cigarettes daily, the risk is between twenty and twenty-five times that of a non-smoker.

On average, the risk of contracting lung cancer is one percent for non-smokers and up to thirty percent for ardent cigarette smokers. And while it’s true that those who quit smoking have a reduced risk of contracting lung cancer, three-decade abstinence will still have a risk level that is higher than individuals who have never smoked.

Cardiovascular mortality:

Smoking is a common cause of diseases related to your heart, blood vessels as well as arteries. Some of these diseases include arteriosclerotic peripheral vascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and sudden death. Research also indicates that smoking enhances your chances of contracting coronary heart disease by up to three or four times. And besides the existing conditions such as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, smoking is one of the major risk factors that result in the development of coronary heart disease. The relationship between sudden death and smoking can be elaborated through the uncoordinated contraction of the fibers in the ventricles. Smoking has been proven to boost heart rate, blood pressure as well as the levels of carbon monoxide in your blood. What’s more, smoking not only makes your blood somewhat stickier, but also increases the level of cholesterol in your blood. All these things put additional pressure on the circulatory system and the heart, in particular, enhancing the chances of blood clots forming and ultimately blocking the arteries that are naturally narrow and rigid.

Along with lung cancer, passive smoking can potentially increase your risk of suffering coronary heart disease. Based on a US and UK study, ASH (Action on Smoking) projects that nearly 12,000 incidences of heart disease annually are attributed to passive smoking. The other monumental impact of smoking includes an increased probability of developing conditions such as irregular heartbeat, atherosclerosis, increased coronary artery spasm, increased thrombosis, and decreased oxygen delivery. Apart from atherosclerosis, the other conditions are reversible after one quits smoking. Ardent smokers can minimize their chances of suffering heart disease by quitting smoking.

Clinical research has proven that after one quits smoking, his/her risk of suffering a heart attack becomes more or less like that of a non-smoker. Also, for individuals who have previously suffered a heart attack, stopping smoking for two years can potentially reduce their risk of another attack by up to 20% for light smokers and 60% for smoking addicts. To be more precise, light smokers are individuals who smoke at most ten cigarettes daily whereas heavy smokers are those who smoke nearly forty cigarettes daily.

Non-malignant Lung conditions

Non-malignant respiratory disease and lung cancer are responsible for 25% of all smoking-related fatalities whereas 20% are caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis. American male smokers are between 4 and 25 times more likely to die from bronchitis and emphysema than their non-smoking counterparts. In the beginning, younger smokers usually begin to experience breathing difficulties. These conditions usually progress gradually, making your inhalation process more difficult as the lung’s airways get narrowed and the air sacs damaged by smoke. This simply means that your body will experience lots of difficulties taking in oxygen. And while the state of breathlessness is not always life-threatening unless half of the lung gets damaged, the fact is that the damage already exists and your body won’t function optimally even if you stop smoking.

Of course, your condition will likely worsen if you don’t quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of all these problems, leading to nearly 80% of fatalities from obstructive lung disease. On a positive note though, abstinence from smoking causes a remarkable reduction in your respiratory symptoms. Though studies suggest that your body won’t revert to its original tip-top condition, quitting smoking remains a key factor in slowing down COPD progression. It is worth noting that another type of respiratory disease is pneumonia, a condition that is relatively more common among those who smoke. Pneumonia is more likely to become life-threatening. In the United Kingdom, smoke-induced pneumonia caused close to 10,000 fatalities.

Oral and laryngeal cancers:

Nearly fifty to seventy percent of oral and laryngeal cancer fatalities and linked to smoking. And this risk is known to increase as the number of cigarettes increases. Studies have shown that heavy smokers are between 20 and 30 times more likely to die from laryngeal cancer compared to their non-smoking counterparts.

Oesophageal cancer:

Studies show that smoking is the leading cause of more than 50% of oesophageal cancer fatalities. American smokers are four to five times more increasingly to die from oesophageal cancer compared to non-smokers. Only four percent of smokers who contract this type of cancer survives for at least five years. A significant number succumb within six months. The deadly combination of drinking and smoking results in increased risks of mouth, larynx, and oesophageal cancers. Kidney and bladder cancers, even though not as well-researched as that of laryngeal, lung, or oesophageal cancers, nearly thirty or forty percent of kidney and bladder cancers have been associated with smoking. According to particular Australian research, it was established that those who smoke are at least two times more likely to contract kidney cancer compared to those who don’t smoke.

Pancreatic cancer:

This type of cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America, with an average of four percent of the victims surviving at least five years. A significant number of pancreatic cancer victims don’t have a family history of the condition. But, among those having a family history of pancreatic cancer, smoking seems to substantially enhance the risk of the condition, particularly in males younger than 50 years. Some clinical studies suggest that heavy smoking destroys the pancreatic cells’ DNA. This phenomenon is strongly believed to lead to the mutation of the genes found in the pancreas that are associated with the growth of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a type of malignant tumor.

According to a particular Shanghai study, the likelihood of suffering from pancreatic cancer increases substantially with the number of cigarettes one smokes daily. What’s more, the risk tends to increase as one continues to indulge in the smoking habit. This risk increases between three and six-fold in individuals in the greatest cigarette consumption category. Thankfully, this risk significantly reduces when an individual quits smoking. Former smokers who quit smoking for at least ten years will have risks similar to those of non-smokers. Further research also suggests that increased consumption of meat and alcohol may enhance your risk of pancreatic cancer.

Leukemia:

Research reveals that there is a strong link between the risk of leukemia and the number of cigarettes smoked. The study looked at 248,000 American veterans, out of which 732 succumbed to leukemia during a sixteen-year follow-up. What’s more, a twenty-six-year study offered further evidence of a conservative link between male smokers and myeloid leukemia. Also, according to a particular US study, close to 95% of peripheral artery disease victims are smokers. Diabetic patients who smoke are equally highly likely to develop gangrene resulting in amputation. In comparison with those who don’t smoke, smokers are five times more likely to experience an aorta aneurysm. It is worth noting peripheral artery disease risk factors are more or less the same for conditions involving blood vessels and the brain or heart, and with smoking being the leading risk factor. Other notable risk factors include advancing age, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and a sedentary lifestyle. Earlier reports indicated that men could be at greater risk for peripheral artery disease and leg cramps than women. However, the latest research indicates that this distinction decreases in older age groups. To be more precise, the main risk factors for heart disease are equally the major risk factors for leg cramps as well as peripheral artery disease.

Stroke:

A stroke occurs when your brain’s arteries are either blocked by blood clots or any other debris carried in your bloodstream. This blockage shuts off the supply of blood to the adjacent brain cells, leading to the death of the cells, and this, in turn, leads to stroke. In Australia, stroke is the 2nd most prevalent cause of death after coronary heart disease. Research shows that at least forty thousand Australians succumb to stroke annually. Nearly a third of the victims die after a year, while another third become disabled permanently. Close to 35% of all stroke cases are associated with smoking. From the same statistic, nearly 42% of stroke cases among men aged below 65 and 38% of stroke cases among women below the age of 65 are closely related to smoking.

Also, smokers who also consume alcohol heavily have an increased risk of suffering a stroke. The risk of a heart attack or stroke is 24% greater for those who don’t smoke but live with smokers compared to those who don’t live with a smoker, and this is according to a report by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The probability of a smoker suffering a stroke dramatically increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Those who smoke are two times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-smokers. An individual who smokes at least 40 cigarettes daily boasts twice the risk of a stroke compared to those who smoke at most 10 cigarettes daily. Contrary to the popular belief, stroke isn’t a disease for the aged. This is because even those in their twenties or thirties can get a stroke due to smoking! Fortunately, all isn’t lost either, because when you quit smoking, you’ll recover almost instantly. Within a span of five to fifteen years after you have stopped smoking, your risk of suffering a stroke minimizes to nearly the same as that of a person who’s never smoked.

Peptic ulcer:

Nicotine has been shown to alter the alkaline-acid balance, affect stomach-acid contractions, and triggers the flow of stomach acid back up your intestines. Those who smoke are two times more likely to suffer from peptic ulcers. Also, their risk of death is two times more than those who don’t smoke.

Sickness and Fitness studies in Canada and America have revealed that smokers, on average, are between 14 and 25% less fit compared to non-smokers. In training programs, they can’t compete with those who don’t smoke. What’s more, smoking has been proven to be a major reason why workers take sick leaves. According to a recent Australian study, close to eight million working days are lost annually to smoking compared to only four million days lost to industrial accidents.

What causes the addiction in smoking?

Nicotine is the main substance that acts on your central nervous system, thereby altering alertness, moods as well as appetites in a manner that is inviting to the smoker. Fighting nicotine addiction is never an easy task. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 5% of those who quit smoking can maintain the effort for one year. Studies also reveal that it is relatively faster for a drug to reach your brain through smoking than snorting, swallowing, or even via injection. To be precise, nicotine molecule inhaled through smoking only requires ten seconds to travel via blood vessels and into the brain capillaries.

And once inside your brain, nicotine triggers the release of substances associated with pleasure and euphoria, leading to the so-called high feeling. A smoker inhales nearly ten puffs of a cigarette in five minutes. So, if a smoker smokes thirty cigarettes daily, he/she will most likely get three hundred hits of nicotine to his/her brain daily and this is what leads to addiction. And as nicotine spreads quickly from your lungs and into the bloodstream, it also finds its way through the capillary walls and settles into the spaces adjacent to the nerve cells or neurons.

The primary role of the neurons is to transport electrical signals in the body by releasing neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters will then capture the space between neurons, ready to attach themselves onto the receiving neuron to transmit a chemical message that initiates an electrical impulse. In the nicotine case above, more nicotine will be deposited in the surrounding spaces of the neurons compared to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and increased electrical impulses will be generated. With continued smoking, neurons will eventually get used to this enhanced electrical activity, and this will then lead to the smoker’s addiction to nicotine.

How does smoking addiction impacts one’s ability to function optimally?

During nicotine withdrawal, neurons are unable to sustain the same level of impulses in the region of the brain that regulates voluntary movement, causing smokers to experience hand tremors before smoking. These tremors are usually difficult to notice, especially when the smoker keeps his/her hands busy or through smoking. These tremors also signify withdrawal, but will eventually disappear when you stop smoking. It is imperative to note that nicotine isn’t the only mind-changing ingredient in tobacco. Smoking also reduces the levels of MAO (monoamine oxidase), an essential enzyme that helps in breaking down dopamine. The surge in dopamine levels will ultimately impact the essential brain processes that regulate movement, the ability to experience pain and pleasure, and emotional response.

Dopamine is often associated with the brain’s pleasure system, which not only motivates behavior, but also initiates feelings of enjoyment. Normally, dopamine is released through naturally rewarding experiences, including sex and food. Highly addictive drugs such as nicotine, amphetamine, and cocaine are believed to initiate the high feeling by impacting the levels of dopamine. And this high feeling is the primary reason why smokers become addicted. Addiction is an important reason why compulsive substance users intentionally indulge in the use of dangerous drugs. Studies have revealed that a significant number of smokers are entirely aware of the dangers of tobacco and have shown the desire to either reduce or stop using it altogether. It is estimated that nearly 67% of smokers are willing to stop smoking. And out of this figure, nearly a third attempt to quit every year, but unfortunately, only 2% successfully stop.

What are the primary reasons why people smoke?

  • Curiosity: Young people are likely to engage in smoking out of curiosity. Research shows that up to 29% of kids, in general, have experimented with smoking before attaining the age of 11.
  • Parental example: Kids who watch their parents or guardians smoke are highly likely to eventually start smoking.
  • Stress relief: Smoking is usually seen to offer psychological support, offering reprieve, potentially allowing smokers to cope with stress.
  • Social acceptability: People who want to be accepted socially by either peers or role models who smoke, can be motivated to start smoking.
  • Weight control: Some women believe that smoking may help them to keep their weight in check and boost their image.
  • Enjoyment: A number of those who smoke admit that they smoke because they highly enjoy doing so.

Why do people stop smoking?

Health concerns: Close to 35% quit smoking because of health concerns. Other notable reasons include underlying health problems, cost, lifestyle changes, smoking-related sickness, concern for unborn baby, physician’s advice, and concerns for family health.

What are the available treatment options?

  • Nicotine replacement therapy: The goal of this type of treatment is to alleviate withdrawal symptoms so that the smoker can dwell more on psychological as well as behavioral factors during abstinence. NRT is gradually stopped once the cute withdrawal time elapses.
  • Nicotine gum: In this type of treatment, nicotine is usually ingested via the gastrointestinal tract, and is thereafter metabolized as it passes through the liver. On the other hand, nicotine gum curbs this problem thanks to buccal absorption. A typical gum pellet contains between 2 and 4mg of nicotine which are released through the chew-and-pack motion. The absorption of gum nicotine usually peaks after thirty minutes. However, this absorption in the buccal mucosa is prevented in an acidic surrounding. As a result, users are often told not to drink any acidic beverage immediately during, before, or after nicotine gum application. Side effects of gum nicotine are usually less serious and may include throat or mouth irritations.
  • Nicotine patch: This treatment procedure is based on the fact that nicotine is easily absorbed via the skin. It is available in 24-hour patch doses of 21-22mg and a 16-hour patch of 15mg. After one has stopped smoking, the patch is then administered every morning. Thanks to the patch, nicotine is gradually absorbed, ensuring that venous nicotine levels peak within six or ten hours after administering the patch. The levels of nicotine absorbed through this technique are nearly half of those obtained through smoking. After about four or six weeks, users are then given relatively lower dose levels. After another two or four weeks, the lowest dose is issued, which is 5mg/16 hours or 7mg/24 hours. This treatment usually lasts between six and twelve weeks. Notable side effects include lack of sleep, nausea, and vivid dreams. However, these symptoms are usually mild and users tolerate them within a week or so. Clinical evidence suggests that lack of sleep in the first week of stopping cigarette use is mostly a result of nicotine withdrawal but not due to the use of nicotine patches. One distinct technique to establish whether insomnia is either caused by nicotine patches or nicotine withdrawal is removing the 24-hour patch before one goes to sleep.

Other common treatment options include:

  • Bupropion: This type of treatment is a non-nicotine aid that allows you to stop smoking by alleviating withdrawal symptoms. However, it is usually recommended along with a tobacco cessation program to offer users extra support and educational materials. It may take some weeks before you notice the full benefits of this treatment. Common side effects include dry mouth, insomnia, and constipation.
  • Champix Varenicline: This is also a non-nicotine drug for smoking cessation. It is usually prescribed together with other counseling and support programs. Common side effects include insomnia, abnormal dreams, and perhaps headaches.

If you are currently looking to start your journey of quitting smoking, kindly note that it is never too late! All you need to do is to contact your doctor for assistance and guidance.

What causes the addiction in smoking?

Nicotine is the main substance that acts on your central nervous system, thereby altering alertness, moods as well as appetites in a manner that is inviting to the smoker. Fighting nicotine addiction is never an easy task. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 5% of those who quit smoking can maintain the effort for one year. Studies also reveal that it is relatively faster for a drug to reach your brain through smoking than snorting, swallowing, or even via injection. To be precise, nicotine molecule inhaled through smoking only requires ten seconds to travel via blood vessels and into the brain capillaries.

And once inside your brain, nicotine triggers the release of substances associated with pleasure and euphoria, leading to the so-called high feeling. A smoker inhales nearly ten puffs of a cigarette in five minutes. So, if a smoker smokes thirty cigarettes daily, he/she will most likely get three hundred hits of nicotine to his/her brain daily and this is what leads to addiction. And as nicotine spreads quickly from your lungs and into the bloodstream, it also finds its way through the capillary walls and settles into the spaces adjacent to the nerve cells or neurons.

The primary role of the neurons is to transport electrical signals in the body by releasing neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters will then capture the space between neurons, ready to attach themselves onto the receiving neuron to transmit a chemical message that initiates an electrical impulse. In the nicotine case above, more nicotine will be deposited in the surrounding spaces of the neurons compared to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and increased electrical impulses will be generated. With continued smoking, neurons will eventually get used to this enhanced electrical activity, and this will then lead to the smoker’s addiction to nicotine.

How does smoking addiction impacts one’s ability to function optimally?

During nicotine withdrawal, neurons are unable to sustain the same level of impulses in the region of the brain that regulates voluntary movement, causing smokers to experience hand tremors before smoking. These tremors are usually difficult to notice, especially when the smoker keeps his/her hands busy or through smoking. These tremors also signify withdrawal, but will eventually disappear when you stop smoking. It is imperative to note that nicotine isn’t the only mind-changing ingredient in tobacco. Smoking also reduces the levels of MAO (monoamine oxidase), an essential enzyme that helps in breaking down dopamine. The surge in dopamine levels will ultimately impact the essential brain processes that regulate movement, the ability to experience pain and pleasure, and emotional response.

Dopamine is often associated with the brain’s pleasure system, which not only motivates behavior, but also initiates feelings of enjoyment. Normally, dopamine is released through naturally rewarding experiences, including sex and food. Highly addictive drugs such as nicotine, amphetamine, and cocaine are believed to initiate the high feeling by impacting the levels of dopamine. And this high feeling is the primary reason why smokers become addicted. Addiction is an important reason why compulsive substance users intentionally indulge in the use of dangerous drugs. Studies have revealed that a significant number of smokers are entirely aware of the dangers of tobacco and have shown the desire to either reduce or stop using it altogether. It is estimated that nearly 67% of smokers are willing to stop smoking. And out of this figure, nearly a third attempt to quit every year, but unfortunately, only 2% successfully stop.

What are the primary reasons why people smoke?

  • Curiosity: Young people are likely to engage in smoking out of curiosity. Research shows that up to 29% of kids, in general, have experimented with smoking before attaining the age of 11.
  • Parental example: Kids who watch their parents or guardians smoke are highly likely to eventually start smoking.
  • Stress relief: Smoking is usually seen to offer psychological support, offering reprieve, potentially allowing smokers to cope with stress.
  • Social acceptability: People who want to be accepted socially by either peers or role models who smoke, can be motivated to start smoking.
  • Weight control: Some women believe that smoking may help them to keep their weight in check and boost their image.
  • Enjoyment: A number of those who smoke admit that they smoke because they highly enjoy doing so.

Why do people stop smoking?

Health concerns: Close to 35% quit smoking because of health concerns. Other notable reasons include underlying health problems, cost, lifestyle changes, smoking-related sickness, concern for unborn baby, physician’s advice, and concerns for family health.

What are the available treatment options for smoking?

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

The goal of this type of treatment is to alleviate withdrawal symptoms so that the smoker can dwell more on psychological as well as behavioral factors during abstinence. NRT is gradually stopped once the cute withdrawal time elapses.

Nicotine Gum

In this type of treatment, nicotine is usually ingested via the gastrointestinal tract, and is thereafter metabolized as it passes through the liver. On the other hand, nicotine gum curbs this problem thanks to buccal absorption. A typical gum pellet contains between 2 and 4mg of nicotine which are released through the chew-and-pack motion. The absorption of gum nicotine usually peaks after thirty minutes. However, this absorption in the buccal mucosa is prevented in an acidic surrounding. As a result, users are often told not to drink any acidic beverage immediately during, before, or after nicotine gum application. Side effects of gum nicotine are usually less serious and may include throat or mouth irritations.

Nicotine Patch

This treatment procedure is based on the fact that nicotine is easily absorbed via the skin. It is available in 24-hour patch doses of 21-22mg and a 16-hour patch of 15mg. After one has stopped smoking, the patch is then administered every morning. Thanks to the patch, nicotine is gradually absorbed, ensuring that venous nicotine levels peak within six or ten hours after administering the patch. The levels of nicotine absorbed through this technique are nearly half of those obtained through smoking. After about four or six weeks, users are then given relatively lower dose levels. After another two or four weeks, the lowest dose is issued, which is 5mg/16 hours or 7mg/24 hours. This treatment usually lasts between six and twelve weeks. Notable side effects include lack of sleep, nausea, and vivid dreams. However, these symptoms are usually mild and users tolerate them within a week or so. Clinical evidence suggests that lack of sleep in the first week of stopping cigarette use is mostly a result of nicotine withdrawal but not due to the use of nicotine patches. One distinct technique to establish whether insomnia is either caused by nicotine patches or nicotine withdrawal is removing the 24-hour patch before one goes to sleep.

Other common treatment options include:

  • Bupropion: This type of treatment is a non-nicotine aid that allows you to stop smoking by alleviating withdrawal symptoms. However, it is usually recommended along with a tobacco cessation program to offer users extra support and educational materials. It may take some weeks before you notice the full benefits of this treatment. Common side effects include dry mouth, insomnia, and constipation.
  • Champix Varenicline: This is also a non-nicotine drug for smoking cessation. It is usually prescribed together with other counseling and support programs. Common side effects include insomnia, abnormal dreams, and perhaps headaches.

If you are currently looking to start your journey of quitting smoking, kindly note that it is never too late! All you need to do is to contact your doctor for assistance and guidance.

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