HEALTH

Study: Asthmatics have a tougher time trying to quit smoking

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — A new University of Cincinnati study released last week examined how anxiety sensitivity can thwart the efforts of smokers with asthma to quit smoking. This new direction of research from Alison McLeish, a UC assistant professor of psychology, was presented Nov.17 at the 46th annual convention of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in National Harbor, Md.

Anxiety sensitivity, or AS, refers to a person’s chronic fear of anxiety-related symptoms — the belief that experiences such as sweaty palms, shallow breathing, headache or rapid heartbeat could bring on something much worse, either physically, mentally or socially.

McLeish’s study of 125 smokers with asthma found that anxiety sensitivity was a significant factor in impeding the smokers’ efforts to quit smoking, even though the participants with higher anxiety sensitivity were more likely to report that they wanted to quit because of the health factors associated with asthma and smoking. Participants with high anxiety sensitivity were also more likely to report self-control as motivations for quitting.

“If people are smoking to cope with anxiety, which is often what smokers do, quitting smoking can temporarily increase their anxiety, which will give people high in anxiety sensitivity the exact symptoms they’re afraid of,” McLeish said. “Since anxiety is more common among individuals with asthma, this could explain why smokers with asthma have a harder time quitting smoking."

McLeish said the study suggests that smokers with asthma who have high anxiety sensitivity may need specialized intervention efforts to overcome their perceived barriers to quitting smoking — interventions targeted toward their health concerns and building their self confidence.

Participants in the study were 125 smokers with asthma, 46% female, with an average age of around 37. They reported being regular smokers for an average of 20.6 years and smoked about a pack of cigarettes per day. Of those who participated in the study, 54.5% were African-American, 41.5% were Caucasian, 1.6% were Asian and 2.4% reported “other.” 

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HEALTH

Study: Vitamin D3 could help prevent Type 1 diabetes

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — A study published last week by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The six-year study of blood levels of nearly 2,000 individuals suggests a preventative role for vitamin D3 in this disease. The research appears the December issue of Diabetologia, a publication of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

“Previous studies proposed the existence of an association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of and Type 1 diabetes, but this is the first time that the theory has been tested in a way that provides the dose-response relationship,” stated Cedric Garland, professor in UCSD’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Based mainly on results of this study, Garland estimated that the level of calcidiol (the form of vitamin D that is measured in order to assess vitamin D deficiency) needed to prevent half the cases of type 1 diabetes is 50 ng/mL. A consensus of all available data indicates no known risk associated with this dosage.

“While there are a few conditions that influence vitamin D metabolism, for most people, 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 will be needed to achieve the effective levels,” Garland suggested. He advised interested patients to ask their healthcare provider to measure their serum calcidiol before increasing vitamin D3 intake.

“This beneficial effect is present at these intakes only for vitamin D3,” Garland said. “Reliance should not be placed on different forms of vitamin D and mega doses should be avoided, as most of the benefits for prevention of disease are for doses less than 10,000 IU/day.”

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Report: Teen smoking falls significantly across 41 states

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Current cigarette smoking among 12- to 17-year-olds fell significantly from 2002 to 2010 in 41 states, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued last week. The report also found that during the same period, adolescent perception of risk from cigarette smoking has remained unchanged in most states.

“The Surgeon General’s Report on Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults notes that smoking is the nation’s leading cause of preventable death,” stated SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde. “Although this report shows that considerable progress has been made in lowering adolescent cigarette smoking, the sad, unacceptable fact remains that in many states about one in 10 adolescents smoked cigarettes in the past month. The report also shows that we must collectively redouble our efforts to better educate adolescents about the risks of tobacco and continue to work with every state and community to promote effective tobacco use prevention and recovery programs.”

Adolescent cigarette use nationwide declined from 12.6% to 8.7%, but significant differences remained among states. For example, Wyoming had the nation’s highest rate of 13.5% — more than double the rate of 5.9% for Utah, the state with the nation’s lowest rate. The study defined current use as smoking in the past month.

The report showed that youths’ perception of great risk of harm from smoking one pack per day or more rose from 63.7% to 65.4% overall. However, the rate increased in only five states; the remaining states stayed at about the same level.

The report, “State Estimates of Adolescent Cigarette Use and Perceptions of Risk of Smoking: 2009 and 2010,” is based on findings from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports for the years 2002-2003 and 2009-2010.

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