Heath Scan: Quitting cigarettes doesn't always cause weight gain

Research finds average weight gain for those who kick habit is only 4 or 5 kilos if they don't adopt more nutritious diet or exercise.

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July 4, 2009 20:43
4 minute read.
Heath Scan: Quitting cigarettes doesn't always cause weight gain

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Not all people who quit smoking gain a lot of weight. according to Dr. Rahel Dahan, a family medicine expert of Clalit Health Services and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's Rappaport Medical Faculty in Haifa. Writing in the Journal of Israeli Family Practice, Dahan said the average weight gain for those who kick the habit is only four or five kilos if they don't adopt a more nutritious diet or exercise. Many quitters don't gain any weight at all. In any case, she continues, the danger of gaining a few kilos is "minuscule" compared to the risks of continuing to smoke. Not only will the danger of lung cancer and heart disease decline, but the person will also breathe better, have fewer wrinkles, and minimize the risk of yellow teeth and bad breath. Dahan, who is experienced at helping patients stop smoking, and is also an authorized hypnotist, advises those who have given up tobacco to take a bottle of cold water (preferably with a little lemon juice) and sugarless gum with them to keep themselves under control when they watch TV, drive or do other things that used to be accompanied by a cigarette. During the phases of cessation, it is better to avoid alcohol and even coffee. she says. Keep your hands busy with hobbies. Remove all cigarettes and ashtrays from your environment. Try deep-breathing exercises. Don't be tempted by "just one cigarette." Prepare a list of all the reasons why you should stop smoking and refer to it often; note the circumstances when you get the urge to smoke and try to avoid them. Adopt regular aerobic exercise. Consider nicotine skin patches or lozenges, or go to a physician for a prescription drug to help break your physiological addiction. A smoking-cessation class or support group can be very helpful. And focus on kicking the habit rather than on fears of gaining kilos, Dahan concludes. LUNGS SAVE WOMAN AT LAST MINUTE A 23-year-old woman whose lungs collapsed suddenly after taking a drug for her chronic Crohn's disease has been saved by a last-minute double-lung transplant at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. The woman suffered a rare complication from taking the drug for Crohn's, a chronic intestinal inflammation. After conventional ventilation was not successful at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, experts from Beilinson came to attach her to a more sophisticated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine; she remained connected for 70 days to this device, which keeps a patient alive when the lungs fail. The aim of the device was to keep her stable in the hope that donor lungs would become available. In May, she was rushed by ambulance to Beilinson's cardiothoracic surgery department despite her critical condition. Fortunately, a pair of lungs had been donated by the family of someone who suffered brain death. After the surgery, the woman is recovering in an intensive-care unit. She has a long period of rehabilitation ahead, said doctors, as she suffered from infections and loss of the muscle mass that assists breathing. Dr. Binyamin Medallion, head of the heart and lung transplant unit at Beilinson, said the case was very rare because the lung collapse was due to an unusual complication resulting from a medication, and since she had been attached to an ECMO for so long. It was also unusual that a suitable pair of lungs was donated in time. Dr. Gennady Gergman, a respiratory intensive-care expert at Kaplan, added that the woman became acutely ill due to the Crohn's medication, which harmed her immune system and resulted in pneumonia. The doctors have been unable to find a previous case in the medical literature. RED SEA CORAL DERIVATIVE MAY FIGHT SKIN CANCERS Research suggests that a substance found in soft Red Sea coral could help treat non-melanoma skin cancer. Researchers from South Dakota State University found that using different concentrations of sarcophine-diol, made from a substance in the coral, affects the proliferation of cancer cells. The researchers are exploring the mechanisms by which the substance functions. The scientists published their findings in a recent issue of the journalTranslational Oncology. The study built on earlier work by Prof. Chandradhar Dwivedi's lab, which was looking at the chemopreventive effects of sarcophine-diol, made from a substance called sarcophine that can be isolated from soft Red Sea coral. The new study carried the work beyond looking at sarcophine-diol's possible use in prevention of skin cancer to consider its potential as a tool in therapies to actually treat such cancer. "We are finding that sarcophine-diol could be used both for chemoprevention and as a chemotherapeutic agent," Dwivedi said. Specifically, the new SDSU research explored sarcophine-diol's potential to inhibit cell growth of cancers, and its potential to induce orderly, programmed death of skin cancer cells. The SDSU study showed that sarcophine-diol induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. The extent of apoptosis observed was correlated to the level of sarcophine-diol used, Dwivedi said. However, sarcophine-diol did not induce what scientists call necrosis, or the premature death of healthy cells. Dwivedi said this is important because it suggests sarcophine-diol could be used in treatments that specifically target cancer cells. "Further investigations of sarcophine-diol in experimental models and in cell culture studies are needed to explore its mechanisms of action," Dwivedi said. "Sarcophine-diol has excellent potential to be a potent chemotherapeutic agent that can be further investigated for use against nonmelanoma skin cancer development."

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