Quit Smoking this Year and Decrease Your Risk of Lung Cancer by as Much as 90%

(Reston, VA—January 4, 2008) – As we ring in the New Year, many of us have made resolutions. From losing weight, to being more organized, Americans are hoping to make a change for the better in the coming year. One change that nearly 35 million people will attempt to make this year is to stop smoking. The negative effects of smoking are undeniable. Every year tobacco-related illnesses take the lives of more than 435,000 Americans; 8.6 million Americans suffer from at least one serious illness caused by smoking.

“If we could eliminate smoking, we would see a huge change in the epidemiology of lung disease. While lung cancer does occur in nonsmokers, 90% of men, and 80% of women who are diagnosed with the disease are or at one time were smokers” Said Farid Gharagozloo, MD, FACS, Director of the Northern Virginia Thoracic Oncology Program at Reston Hospital Center. “Just in the years between 1990 and 2002, the lung cancer rates have fallen 17%, this is directly correlated a decrease in tobacco usage in the previous decades.”

The average smoker’s life is more than 15 years shorter than that of the average non-smoker, and yet more than 45 million Americans continue to smoke. It is not that they don’t want to quit, smokers in America try an average of 6-8 times to quit in their lifetimes. Addiction is the force behind these grim statistics.

The main opponent in the battle to quit smoking is nicotine, a chemical compound found in tobacco which is one of the most addictive substances on Earth. When a person smokes, nicotine stimulates neural receptors, which in turn release neurotransmitters that create a feeling of pleasure and relaxation. This response to nicotine conditions a physical addiction that is equally as strong as that created by heroin or cocaine.

There are three major methods of beating the habit—nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications that target neural receptors and behavioral change without aides. Nicotine replacement therapies include nicotine gum, patches, inhalers and lozenges. This method replaces cigarettes with a new, safe source of nicotine. Prescription medications come in two varieties, the first target and block the nicotine receptors, eliminating the feeling of pleasure that comes with smoking. The second is the use of mild antidepressants to increase the intake of serotonin and counteract the disappearance of nicotine in the body. Quitting through behavior change alone is usually done through introducing alternative activities into your life that replace smoking; this can include anything from working out to taking a cooking class. Because it is essential to be able to distract oneself when cravings hit, this method often includes emphasis on relaxation techniques.

Whatever the method, it’s important to have a support system in the effort to quit smoking. Friends, family and coworkers can be there providing motivation and guidance, especially during nicotine cravings.

For more information on methods and resources available to those trying to quit smoking, Contact Cyndee Hochstrasser, Reston Hospital Center’s Director of Health and Wellness at 703/689-9240.

For those hoping to quit smoking in 2008, the battle will be difficult, but the results great.

The purpose of the Northern Virginia Thoracic Oncology Program is to bring the state-of-the-art medical and surgical thoracic care found at the nation’s leading academic medical centers to the convenient community setting of Reston Hospital Center. The program provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary care including, surgical, medical and radiation oncology services, cancer screening and education, community outreach and clinical research trials. Additionally, the program promotes and conducts thoracic screening in order to detect disorders early, when they are most treatable. Above all, it provides personalized care to each of our patients.

Since its founding in 1986, Reston Hospital Center -- a 187-bed, acute-care medical and surgical facility situated in Reston’s vibrant Town Center – has consistently served the Northern Virginia area with compassion, care and the newest medical technologies. Part of HCA, the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, Reston Hospital Center has garnered high honors for attentive patient care and nursing excellence, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (AACN) prestigious Magnet Recognition Program®, and AACN’s BEACON Award for Critical Care Excellence™. Always highly attuned to the comfort and needs of its community, Reston Hospital Center blends the convenience of all private rooms, valet parking and an easily accessible suburban location with the personal assurance that only the most skilled and best trained medical and support staff can offer. Above all else, Reston Hospital Center is in constant pursuit of its mission: A Passion for Excellence. Compassion for You.

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