Entries in Smokers (9)


Woman Dies After Receiving Smoker's Lungs in Transplant

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Jennifer Wederell, a 27-year-old British woman with cystic fibrosis, died of lung cancer after she received the lungs of a heavy smoker in an organ transplant.

According to BBC News, Wederell had been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for 18 months when in April 2011, she was told there was finally a match.  She received the transplant, apparently not knowing the donor had been a smoker.

In February 2012, a malignant mass was found in her lungs.  She died less than 16 months after the transplant.

Her father, Colin Grannell, said he believed his daughter had died a death meant for someone else.

"The shock immediately turned to anger insofar as all the risks were explained in the hour before her transplant," he told the BBC, "and not once was the fact smoker's lungs would be used mentioned."

Wederell's case raises difficult issues regarding organ transplants.  She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a progressive and debilitating lung disease that affects more than 70,000 people worldwide, at the age of 2.  By her mid-20s, she relied on an oxygen tank 24 hours a day to survive.

Would she have been better off refusing the transplant, and hoping another set of organs became available that matched her blood type and came from a non-smoker?

"Probably not," said Dr. G. Alexander Patterson, surgical director of lung transplants at the Washington University and Barnes Jewish transplant center in St. Louis, one of the largest organ transplant programs in the nation.  "If she was critically ill and had poor chance of short-term survival, she was better off accepting the transplant."

Patterson said most hospitals, including those in the U.S., also transplant the lungs of smokers if they are of otherwise good quality.

"This is a necessity because there are far fewer donors than there are recipients and most patients who are on a waiting list would gladly accept a set of smoker's lungs in exchange for the ones they have, which usually have little chance of carrying them through to long-term survival," he said.

About 17,000 Americans receive a transplant each year, and more than 4,600 die waiting for one, according to United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization charged with allocating the nation's organs.  If surgeons do not accept less-than-perfect organs, Patterson said that the numbers might be much worse.

Harefield Hospital in London, where Wederell was treated, has since apologized to her family for not revealing all the information about her donor's medical history.  But Patterson said most transplant surgeons don't share such details with their patients unless they are asked directly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Smokers Lungs Offer Survival Advantage

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Patients who underwent lung transplants lived an additional three years compared with patients who never received donor organs, even if the lungs they received came from people who had previously smoked, according to a new British study published in the Lancet.

Researchers led by Dr. Robert Bonser of University Hospital Birmingham analyzed how donor smoking history affected three-year survival rates using patients on the U.K. Transplant Registry between 1999 and 2010.

About 39 percent of the 1,295 lung transplants used lungs from donors who had previously smoked.  While the three-year survival rate for these transplant recipients was lower than for people who received lungs from nonsmokers and had more complications, survival was still better than for people who had never had transplants at all.

Their findings, the authors wrote, support a policy of accepting lungs from people with smoking histories.

“Donors with positive smoking histories provide nearly 40 percent of the lungs available for transplantation,” they wrote. “Rejection of this donor-organ resource would increase waiting-list mortality and is ill advised.

In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Marcelo Cypel and Shaf Keshavjee of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program explained that the risks and benefits of lungs from donors who smoked varied by country and transplant center.

In the U.S., the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the country’s organ transplant system, instituted a lung allocation system designed to make better use of the few donated organs available and to reduce the number of people who die while waiting for a transplant.

Each person on the waiting list is given a score indicating how severely ill the person is and how likely it is for a transplant to succeed.  The scores are used to determine priority once an organ becomes available.

This program, Cypel and Keshavjee wrote, “reduced mortality of patients on the waiting list without a substantial increase in lung donors.”

And while Bonser and his co-authors believe that lungs from donors who smoked shouldn’t necessarily be rejected, they recommend that patients “be informed that the use of such lungs could reduce their lifetime.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FDA Appeals Block on Cigarette Warning Labels

A proposed graphic health warning for cigarette packages. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has appealed a federal judge's order that blocked graphic warnings about the dangers of smoking on cigarette packages.

In November, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that cigarette companies would likely win their battle against the FDA's mandatory requirement that graphic images of cigarette-induced diseases and death by smoking would be displayed on the top half of the pack. Leon said the images went too far.

In June, the FDA unveiled the final nine graphics that were scheduled appear on cigarette packs by 2012, including images of a man smoking from a tracheotomy hole, and rotting teeth with short one-line facts such as "cigarettes cause cancer."

"We want to make a difference and help people who are smoking stop smoking and discourage people who haven't taken up the habit yet," FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg told ABC News.

Leon blocked the labels until after the lawsuit was resolved between cigarette companies and the FDA.

The images mark the most dramatic change a single pack has undergone in more than 25 years. The agency will require all manufacturers to use the labels on all U.S. sold cigarettes by Oct. 22, 2012. The Obama administration submitted its appeal Tuesday.

Although intended to warn smokers of the fatal consequences of cigarette smoking, the images created by the FDA are arguably tame in comparison to other countries such as Canada or Australia, said Dr. Eden Evins, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Previous studies suggest that graphic health warnings displayed in other countries worked better than text warnings to motivate smokers to quit and non-smokers not to start.

The United States was the first country to require health warnings on tobacco products. But it is now playing catchup to more than 30 countries that already require large, graphic cigarette warnings. Images used on cigarette packs in countries such as Canada are so disturbing that some smokers buy covers for their cigarette packs to block out the images.

While "the stronger the better" when it comes to motivating smokers to quit, according to Dr. Mary O'Sullivan, director of the smoking cessation program at St. Luke's-Roosevelt in New York, the images do offer straightforward messages of the fatal consequences.

Since many Americans are not used to seeing jarring images on their labels, the new campaign may prove comparable to other countries that display more gruesome images, O'Sullivan said.

While some experts such as Evins and Sullivan believe the images will pack a heavier punch to smokers than the current warning labels, some health communication experts wonder how long the proposed fear-based messages will work.

"The point of putting these pictures is the shock value and research tells us shock value on its own rarely works," said Timothy Edgar, associate professor and graduate program director of health communication at Emerson College in Boston.

Most Americans already know that smoking is dangerous; the message that the FDA is trying to convey, Edgar said. But visualizing the harms associated with smoking will inform many who might find it hard to quit.

The new package warnings are part of an FDA proposal under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which requires that cigarette packages and advertisements have larger and more visible graphic health warnings. While the graphics might dissuade some smokers at the start of the campaign, the communication tactic might not spur many to kick the habit for good, if at all, Edgar said.

"I think people are still going to have a hard time saying, 'Yes, that's me on that label,'" he said. "There's a physical addiction involved in this as well. It's not an absolute choice for many who smoke."

Leading cancer groups, including the American Cancer Society, approached the FDA early on in the development of the labels and "were adamant about including the 800-Quit-Now number," said Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society.

"To be most effective, these labels need to be paired with an action," Glynn said.

The FDA indicated that the number would be included in the label design.

Although smoking rates have declined overall since the 1960s, health officials noted, that rates have leveled off in the past decade. About 21 percent of U.S. adults and nearly 20 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Coffee Acts as Pick-Me-Up in Older Female Smokers

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- From dementia to stroke, suicide to lethal forms of cancer, coffee has been touted as reducing risk of all such medical conditions. Now, coffee drinkers, here's another reason to refill that cup of joe: a new prospective study found that risk of depression decreases as java consumption increases.

The catch? The findings apply only to post-menopausal women who smoke.

The research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, studied more than 50,000 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study, a long-term Harvard study of some of the biggest issues affecting women's health. None of the women, who had an average age of 63, suffered from depression at the start of the study in 1996. By June 2006, researchers followed up and found that, for women who smoked, the more coffee they drank, the less they were at risk of depression.

Compared with women who drank 100 milligrams of coffee or less per day, women who drank four or more cups per day had 20-percent less risk of depression.

The association was not seen in non-smoking women, and researchers could not analyze women who drank very high amounts of coffee -- more than six cups per day -- due to an insignificant number of people who consumed such quantities.

"Regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing depression than non-drinkers," said Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the study. But he warned, "These are preliminary results that need to be confirmed."

In the study, the caffeinated coffee was associated with a decline in depression risk among older female smokers, but decaf coffee saw no such association. Oddly, when looking at other caffeinated resources (tea, soda, chocolate), researchers did not see an associated decrease of depression either. Study authors wrote that this could be because an insignificant portion of people made up the group after excluding those who drank one or more cups of coffee per day.

This type of depression is also not the typical kind that may develop in the younger years, researchers noted. Post-menopausal women are at higher risk of depression due to hormone and chemical changes in the brain. Because of this, the association of decreased depression risk cannot be directly linked to younger women.

More than half of American adults drink some form of coffee each day, according to the National Coffee Association, and caffeine is the most frequently consumed stimulant in the world.

While several antidepressants contain stimulants, Harold Koenig, professor of social psychology at Tulane University School of Medicine, said he is "concerned" if people read about the study and decide to use coffee as self-medication. Antidepressants likely have different chemical compositions than coffee, and would likely have a different effect on the brain.

"No doubt, caffeine can temporarily increase mood and energy, but the problem is that the effect does not last, and the dose has to be continually increased to maintain the same effect," said Koenig. "Many people experience a caffeine withdrawal when they cut down on their caffeine intake, and this can cause dysphoria and fatigue.

"Think about how you feel after you drink a high-caffeinated drink and think about how you feel after about two to three hours," Koenig continued. "Common sense says that the caffeine effect doesn't last, and that people have to pay for whatever improved mood they experience in terms of withdrawal."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Studies Show Smokers Are Smoking Less

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - Fewer American adults are smoking cigarettes, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The report also says that daily smokers are smoking fewer cigarettes each day.

The report covers data from 2005 to 2010 and shows an estimated 19.3 percent of American adults, aged 18 and older, continue to smoke, marking a decline from 20.9 percent in 2005.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. says that although any decline in the number of smokers is a step in the right direction, tobacco use still remains a significant health burden for the people of United States.

The data from CDC’s National Health Interview Survey show fewer American adults are smoking. However, the rate of the decline between 2005 and 2010 is slower than in the previous five-year period.

Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, says the slowing trend shows the need for more intensified efforts to reduce cigarette smoking amongst adults, and points to the success of efforts such as higher tobacco prices, aggressive media campaigns and graphic health warnings, to name a few.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke kill an estimated 443,000 Americans each year. 

In addition to the loss of human life, the CDC also reports smoking costs about $193 billion annually in direct health care expenses and lost productivity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pre-Menopausal Heavy Smokers at Higher Risk for Breast Cancer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that heavy smokers of childbearing age -- particularly women who have never been pregnant -- are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School examined the medical records of 111,140 women over a 30-year period.  These observations led researchers to conclude that smoking cigarettes in high quantities over a longer time period was associated with breast cancer among pre-menopausal women.

Of the women studied, nearly 9,000 developed breast cancer while pre-menopausal heavy smokers had a six percent higher rate of malignancy.

Researchers added that second-hand smoke exposure did not appear to advance breast cancer risk, though it was difficult to observe.  Light and moderate smoking also did not seem to increase risk for breast cancer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Surgeon General Says No Exposure to Tobacco Smoke Is Safe

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, according to the latest surgeon general's report released Thursday.

The report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, finds that even an occasional cigarette, inhaled directly or secondhand, "causes immediate damage to your body that can lead to serious illness or death."

Inhaling tobacco smoke exposes you to over 7,000 chemicals and compounds, hundreds of which are toxic and at least 70 of which cause cancer.  Regardless of whether a cigarette is filtered, low-tar or light, they still carry the same disease risk as regular ones.

Nearly half a million Americans die each year from exposure to tobacco smoke.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Scientists Find a New Reason for Qutting Smoking

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- Cigarette smokers frequently argue that the reason they don't stop smoking is that quitting would make life more depressing. But new research indicates the opposite is true. Persons who quit in a clinical trial actually showed lower signs of depression for weeks and months after giving it up.

Smokers who quit were happiest during periods of abstention, and if they began smoking again their moods turned darker, according to psychologist Christopher Kahler of Brown University, lead author of a study in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Participants in the study who never quit smoking were the most depressed of all. Those who quit entirely were the least depressed at the beginning of the months-long study and they remained the happiest throughout the project.

"We're still puzzling about why that's the case," Kahler said. "A sense of personal triumph makes a lot of sense. The people in this study were really motivated to succeed. And when you succeed at something that's important to you, you naturally feel better."

But he concedes that many ex-smokers complain that "they felt miserable for weeks" after quitting, and many say they resumed smoking because they felt depressed or anxious or irritated about something in their lives. Yet in this study, the less people smoked, the less they suffered from depression.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Russia Tops List of Countries with Most Smokers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- A new survey says that Russians are the world's biggest smokers.  A World Health Organization study released on Tuesday says that Russia has almost 44 million adult smokers, or 40 percent of the population.  The study also finds that 60 percent of men smoke and 22 percent of women light up.

The study surveyed 14 countries that "bear the highest burden of tobacco use."  Those include countries like Brazil, China and Egypt.

It was done with the help of the Russian health ministry.  An estimated 400,000 to 500,000 smokers die every year in Russia, accounting for almost 20 percent of the mortality rate.

Cigarettes are very cheap in Russia, costing under a dollar per pack.  The study showed that the average smoker has 17 cigarettes a day and spends about $20 on cigarettes a month.

The Russian government has tried to clamp down on tobacco sales.  It has put warning labels on cigarette packs, and hopes to ban advertising and phase out smoking in public places.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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