Do you or someone you know smoke cigarettes and want to quit? Bob talks to Dr. Derek Raghavan, a medical oncologist and director of the cancer center at the Cleveland Clinic, about the dangers of smoking and the best ways to kick the habit once and for all.
Dr. Raghavan says smoking cigarettes either causes or aggravates many of the diseases that exist in the world today. In addition to lung cancer, it can cause cancers of the lip, tongue, esophagus, stomach and bladder, Dr. Raghavan says. "If you took smoking out of the game you could probably reduce illness in our community by about 60–65 percent," he says.
So what are the ways you can be successful at quitting smoking? Dr. Raghavan says that people have different body chemistries, and that each person must find an option that works for himself or herself. He offers four suggestions:
Cold turkey. "That's the easiest way in the sense that it requires no outside interventions, but it can be awfully difficult," Dr. Raghavan says. The first few days, you'll be irritable because you're feeling the loss of nicotine, he says. After a few days and up to a month or so, you'll notice you're coughing more because the breathing passages are recovering from the effects of smoking, he says. You may also get the jitters, eat more or get headaches. "Gradually you'll start to feel better, have more effort tolerance, feel better, breathe better, cough less," he says.
Prescriptions. When quitting cold turkey doesn't work, Dr. Raghavan says he often suggests bringing people down in a graduated fashion off nicotine. Nicotine patches or lozenges are often prescribed. "You bring people down slowly so that they don't feel withdrawal as much."
Telephone quit line. "What's happening U.S.A.-wide right at the moment, which I guess I would say is my favorite approach, is using the telephone quit line," Dr. Raghavan says. Many states have an 800 number for smokers; for example in Ohio, Dr. Raghavan says, you're connected to a telephone counselor who will send you material and will organize through your physician to get a prescription for nicotine patches or gum. In other states, the quit lines offer a buddy system. "So you have someone who will kind of ride it through with you when you're thinking of having a cigarette."
Exercise. Bob says he always suggests exercising as a way to help smokers quit, and Dr. Raghavan agrees. "It gives them something to do to occupy the time," Dr. Raghavan says. In addition, exercise increases the production of endorphins, a natural chemical that produces a feeling of relaxation, similar to the feeling smokers get after smoking a cigarette.