July 29th, 2013
05:01 PM ET
For the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending lung cancer screening for people who have a high risk of developing the disease. People who have a "30 pack year history of smoking" (for instance, at least 2 packs a year for 15 years), who are between the ages of 55 and 79, and who have smoked their last cigarette within the last 15 years are considered high risk.
The USPSTF's recommendations were published Monday and are subject to a public comment period that ends August 26. When it last looked at this in 2004, the group said the data was insufficient to recommend screening for lung cancer.
The task force's new recommendations are based on a review of seven clinical trials where researchers found Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT) scanning was an effective way to detect lung cancer before patients began to show symptoms.
"Close to 160,000 people in the U.S. die from lung cancer every year," says Dr. Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair of USPSTF. That's more than breast, prostate and colon cancer deaths combined. LeFevre estimates that screening the right people may prevent up to 20,000 deaths each year.
March 12th, 2013
04:01 PM ET
Cigarette smoking increases your heart rate, narrows the walls of your blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen being delivered to your system, among other things. That’s why smoking is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, obesity is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. And most smokers gain between 6 and 13 pounds in the six months after they quit, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The benefits of quitting smoking are well known. “Cigarette smoking has short- and long-term cardiovascular effects that are reversible shortly after cessation,” according to the study authors.
But the researchers wanted to know if the weight gain following smoking cessation would counteract the positive effects quitting has on your cardiovascular system.
January 29th, 2013
02:03 PM ET
You might think that heavy smokers make for bad lung donors. But a new a study finds donors who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 20 years were strong candidates for double lung transplant donors.
The study was presented this week at the annual Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting.
Authors of the study evaluated 5,900 adult double lung transplants between 2005 and 2011 in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database. UNOS is the nation’s organ transplant management system. Heavy smokers made up 13%, or 766 of the double lung transplants studied.
Researchers found that the patients who received the smokers' lungs had similar short and medium term survival rates as those who received lungs from people who did not smoke heavily. FULL POST
December 11th, 2012
11:50 AM ET
Primary care physicians should offer children and teens counseling and guidance to prevent them from starting smoking, according to draft guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
That’s a change from the group's 2003 guidelines, which found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against doctors taking actions to thwart tobacco use among younger patients.
Since then, “there were a bunch of new studies that were published throughout the last nine years that do point to a positive effect by primary physicians in their efforts to prevent tobacco initiation by kids,” explained USPSTF member Dr. David C. Grossman, a practicing pediatrician at the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Washington. FULL POST
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.
But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.
The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST
November 15th, 2012
12:01 PM ET
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that significant strides have been made in enacting anti-smoking laws across the United States, but still areas of the country remain that are largely lacking in protective measures against second-hand smoke.
Back in 2000, only one of America's 50 largest cities had laws that prevented people from smoking in bars, restaurants and private workplaces. In 2012, 30 of them were covered by anti-smoking laws, representing a 60% increase.
Also in 2000, there were no states with statewide anti-smoking policies of this nature. By 2010, there were 26 states.
June 7th, 2012
03:01 PM ET
The problem, Dr. Brian Primack says, is that hookah smoking is a beautiful thing.
Polished brass, woven rugs and intricate carvings create a culturally-rich atmosphere where friends can relax and socialize.
Unfortunately, smoking hookah delivers the same chemical compounds as smoking a cigarette. In fact, one session (usually about 45 to 60 minutes) delivers approximately 100 times the smoke as a single cigarette, with 40 times the tar and 10 times the carbon monoxide.
May 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their annual health report for 2011 on Wednesday. The report contains more than 150 data tables on the U.S. population's well-being, with a special focus on socioeconomic status.
Here are a few of the interesting tidbits we found. For more, visit www.cdc.gov.
The Bible Belt needs more doctors. On average, there were 25 physicians for every 10,000 people in the U.S. in 2009. The Northeast, Hawaii and Minnesota had the highest ratio of doctors to patients, while states in the South and Rocky Mountain-areas had fewer than 21 per 10,000.
Your education level affects your kids' weight. The CDC collected data on childhood obesity between 2007 and 2010. Where the head of the household had a college degree, 7 to 11% of children aged 2 to 19 were obese. But when the head of the household was a high school dropout, 22 to 24% of the children were obese.
Cigarette smoking is still on the decline. In 2010, 19% of U.S. adults smoked, down 2% from 2009. Over the last decade cigarette smoking among students in 12th grade has decreased from 33% to 22% for male students and from 30% to 16% for female students.
Fewer teens are giving birth. Between 1998 and 2008, birth rates declined 27% for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17.
March 9th, 2012
07:38 AM ET
Editor's Note: Rick Morris is a web developer and volunteer firefighter from Canton, North Carolina. He is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Each athlete receives all the tools necessary to train for and compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this September.
October 1, 2001, was the day my father took his last breath.
A smoker for 50 years, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in April that year. I recall how he continued to smoke cigarettes while pushing an oxygen trolley around his kitchen. When it became clear his final ride to the Haywood County Hospital was at hand, he reached for one last smoke.
The irony was that his brand was “Lucky Strikes." There was nothing lucky about a father of eight whose last days would come during his 63 year of life.
February 6th, 2012
06:45 PM ET
The list of reasons to quit smoking just got longer.
A new study published today on the website of the Archives of General Psychiatry has found that smoking appears to accelerate the pace of age-related cognitive decline in middle-aged men.
The mental function of the average 50-year-old male smoker can be expected to decline as quickly as that of a 60-year-old who has never smoked, the researchers estimate, even after factors such as educational level and overall health are taken into account.
"While we were aware that smoking is a risk factor for lung diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, this study shows also its detrimental effect on cognitive aging," says lead author Séverine Sabia, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at University College in London. "This detrimental effect is evident as soon as [age] 45."
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.