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Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to smoking

November 13, 2010
By RYAN WILLE, community health educator for HealthLink Littauer

According to the New York State Department of Health, there are about 2.4 million smokers in New York state, which accounts for nearly 17 percent of the state's population. Smoking kills 25,500 people and secondhand smoke kills 3,000 in New York state each year. Another 570,000 New Yorkers are afflicted with a serious disease caused by smoking.

Most people are aware of the dangers of smoking, such as the increased risk of cancer and cardio-vascular disease, even if they don't want to believe it. But here is yet another reason to quit that you might not be familiar with.

A Kaiser Permanente study showed heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles your odds of developing Alzheimer's disease. From 1994 to 2008, researchers evaluated the records of 21,123 men and women in midlife and continued following them, on average, for 23 years. Compared with non-smokers, those who had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day increased their risk of developing Alzheimer's by more than 157 percent and had a 172 percent higher risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's. Dementia is a condition where loss of mental skills occurs that affects your daily life. Vascular dementia happens when part of the brain doesn't get enough oxygen and nutrients.

If you smoke, your doctor can play a major role in helping you quit. By seeking the help of a health care professional, you can be assured of a good start on your quit plan. Physicians make sure there is a continuing record of their patients' progress in quitting.

The New York State Smokers' Quitline also offers help to smokers seeking to overcome the addiction of tobacco. Smokers can call the Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit the Quitline website at www.nysmokefree.com. This is a free, confidential service to help you become smoke-free.

Research indicates there is a greater chance of success in beating the addiction when smokers have some means of support - such as telephone smoking cessation hotlines, nicotine replacement products, counseling and prescription medicine - to lessen cravings. These free services are provided by the Quitline. Other means of support for smokers include participating in stop-smoking groups, and turning to friends and family for encouragement and support.

Here are some tips on quitting:

Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar.

Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.

Visit your doctor for support and advice with your quit plan.

Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.

Make a list of family and friends who will support you.

Avoid triggers including alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.

Exercise to relieve stress, and to improve your mood and health.

Consider using a safe nicotine alternative such as replacement patches, gum or lozenges.

Join the Great American Smokeout on Thursday. Millions of Americans will quit smoking for 24 hours, or help someone they care about to quit. Free "Quit Tips" and information on local quit smoking services, the state's Smokers' Quitline and how to get free nicotine replacement therapy will be available at HealthLink and Nathan Littauer Hospital.

For more information on quitting smoking, contact your health care provider, the state's Smokers' Quitline, or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120.

People can can e-mail HealthLink?Littauer at healthlink@nlh.org, visit its website at www.nlh.org or visit its wellness center at 213 Harrison St. Ext. in Johnstown, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 
 

 

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