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Byline: Theresa Tamkins Medical Tribune News Service

While 1995 may go down in history as the year tobacco company executives swore up and down - under oath, before Congress - that nicotine is not addictive, smokers shouldn't let that lull them into a false sense of healthiness.

A host of studies released in 1995 have added to the evidence that cigarettes do not, in fact, increase your life span, quadruple your IQ or make you appear more sexy, but are actually the nasty, highly addictive little cancer-sticks you suspect they are.

For people of both sexes and all ages who need help kicking the habit this New Year's Day, the Medical Tribune News Service has put together a list of 10 reasons, based on studies released during 1995.

1. More smokers than ever before are dying of lung cancer, particularly women. Lung cancer deaths in men have doubled from the 1960s to the '80s - and have jumped almost six-fold in women - despite the introduction of filter-tipped, lower-tar cigarettes, which were shown in some studies to decrease cancer risk.

2. Smoking can cause insomnia. Smokers are more likely to have problems getting to sleep and staying asleep than nonsmokers, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. The nicotine in cigarette smoke acts as a stimulant, keeping people awake way past their bedtimes. Smoking also can interfere with the dreaming period of sleep known as rapid eye movement sleep or REM, explaining why smokers have poorer-quality sleep.

3. In women, smoking can make mild thyroid disease even worse.

Hypothyroidism, an underproduction of hormones from the thyroid gland in the neck, can increase cholesterol levels and cause people to feel cold, weak and fatigued.

4. Smokers are more likely to get diabetes. In a study of 42,000 men, those who smoked were more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop adult-onset non-insulin-dependent, or type II, diabetes. The fourth leading cause of death by disease in the United States, type II diabetes occurs when the body can no longer produce or use the hormone insulin, which breaks down sugar. It's not clear how cigarettes contribute to diabetes, but smoking may damage insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, according to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

5. Smoking causes wrinkles.

A study of almost 1,000 people ages 40 to 69 found that male smokers were twice as wrinkled as male nonsmokers of the same age and female smokers were three times as wrinkled as their nonsmoking counterparts. Smoking may damage the blood vessels and connective tissue that are vital to maintaining skin's elasticity, according to University of California, San Francisco, researchers.

6. Long-term smoking can cause breast cancer.

Women who smoked for more than 30 years were 60 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than other women, according to a study conducted at Hjorring District Hospital in Hjorring, Denmark. The median age at which smokers developed breast cancer was 59, compared to 67 for nonsmokers.

7. Smokers in their 30s and 40s are five times more likely than their nonsmoking peers to have a heart attack.

The British study of 46,000 people was the first to find a substantially higher risk of heart attack in young smokers. Smoking any kind of cigarette substantially increased the risk of heart attack at a young age, but those who smoked medium-tar cigarettes (12 to 15 milligrams of tar) were 10 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who smoked lower-tar cigarettes (7 to 9 milligrams of tar).

8. Quitting can lower your risk of stroke.

While a study from Yale University found that it can take up to 20 years for an ex-smoker's risk of stroke to drop to those of a person who has never smoked, a British study found it can drop much more rapidly.

In the study of 7,264 middle-aged men in the U.K., former heavy smokers (more than a pack a day) were able to cut their risk of stroke in half after five years. Former light smokers (less than a pack a day) were able to reduce their stroke risk in five years to that of people who had never smoked.

9. It's a misperception that smoking a certain number of years and then quitting is "safe": The risk of lung cancer can persist in ex-smokers much longer than previously thought. A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that former smokers made up more than half of lung cancer cases. While most had quit about five years earlier, at least two people developed cancer 50 years after quitting.

10. But the best reason to quit smoking is to set a good example.

This week alone, 12,000 children will start smoking in the United States. Cigarettes are responsible for 80 percent of heart-disease deaths in people under age 50. But if you don't start smoking by the age of 19, the chances are slim you'll become an adult smoker, studies have shown.



Chart (1) Thank you for not smoking (2) Teen smokers likely to stay hooked Knight-Ridder Tribune Graphics Network
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 1, 1996
Next Article:CHECKUP\NEWS, TIPS & TRENDS\Saliva test speeds TB diagnosis.

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