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New data on the health of these United States
More physicians generally leads to better, or at least more available, health care for a state's population.
May 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

New data on the health of these United States

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.
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March 9th, 2012
07:38 AM ET

Smoker trades one addiction for another

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.
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Smoking may hasten mental decline in men
February 6th, 2012
06:45 PM ET

Smoking may hasten mental decline in men

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."
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Filed under: Health.com • Men's Health • Smoking

Study: Nicotine gums, patches only help with withdrawal
January 9th, 2012
03:19 PM ET

Study: Nicotine gums, patches only help with withdrawal

Smokers trying to quit with the help of nicotine replacement therapies - nicotine patches, gums and lozenges - are just as likely to relapse after an initial six-month period as those who go cold turkey, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control.

Past studies have proven that nicotine medications are effective in helping smokers get past the physical withdrawal period when most relapse, something the study authors do not dispute. Some describe nicotine replacement therapies as rockets, launching former smokers beyond withdrawal and into orbit, where they have the same chances of kicking the habit as any other former smoker.

In fact a previous study estimates an approximately 50 to 70% greater success rate overall of quitting with a nicotine replacement than when relying on willpower alone.
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Texting program to help teens quit smoking
January 1st, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Texting program to help teens quit smoking

Teens love their cell phones. In an effort to help young smokers kick the habit, the National Cancer Institute is creating a new program called Smokefree T-X-T. It's a free text message service that provides 24 hour encouragement, advice, and tips to teens trying to quit smoking.

And it's easy. Teens sign up and select a reasonable date to quit. After that, text messages timed to their selected quit date are sent on a regular basis. Following their quit date, they will continue to receive texts for up to six weeks. Smoking experts say six weeks is a critical time, because that's when most people need the support to stay off the tobacco for good. The government agency also provides a website where teens can talk to one another about their efforts to quit.

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Smoking can make your nipples fall off
December 5th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

Smoking can make your nipples fall off

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

I cringe every time I see a patient for a breast lift who is a smoker. I’m deathly afraid that despite my warnings, she will smoke before or after surgery and cause her nipples to turn black and fall off.

Yes. Smokers who undergo breast lifts are at great risk of losing their nipples.

I’ve seen it before.

The nicotine in cigarettes and the carbon monoxide contained in cigarette smoke can diminish blood flow to various parts of the body. These toxins act as a virtual tourniquet. If the blood flow to a particular body part becomes greatly reduced or halted, that body part dies.
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November 3rd, 2011
10:56 AM ET

Anti smoking drug may increase suicide risk, study says

The popular quit-smoking drug Chantix may increase the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts in some patients, says a new report.

Researchers looked at more than 3,000  reports of "neuropsychiatric adverse events" - unexpected problems that result in risk or harm to the patientrelating to smoking cessation drugs, and found that more than 90% of the reports were associated with Chantix use.

"We compared people who took nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban and Chantix," said Dr. Curt Furberg, a study author, and professor of public health sciences at Wake Forrest Baptist Medical Center. "There was an increase in suicides even with nicotine replacement therapies, but Chantix was 8-10 times worse."
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Exercise benefits boys in anti-smoking program
September 19th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Exercise benefits boys in anti-smoking program

Adding exercise improved the results of a smoking cessation program among teen boys according to a CDC funded study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.  Teen girls in the program were more successful without the exercise, the study found.

"In the context of a smoking cessation program, the study suggests that a relatively small amount of time dedicated to motivating youth to increase their physical activity may have high payoff in terms of health and health economics," said study author Kim Horn, Ed.D of  West Virginia University.

Most adult smokers pick up the habit before age 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Fewer Americans are smoking, CDC finds
September 6th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Fewer Americans are smoking, CDC finds

The number of adults in the United States who smoke declined by about 1.5%, or 3 million people, from 2005 to 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also found that the number of habitual smokers - those who light up 30 or more cigarettes a day - dropped from 13% in 2005 to 8% in 2010.

"About one-third of all current smokers may die from cigarette use unless they quit promptly," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said. "So we're talking about preventing more than a million deaths because of that decline."
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Study: Kids exposed to secondhand smoke miss more school
September 5th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Study: Kids exposed to secondhand smoke miss more school

Children who live with smokers miss more school due to illness than those who live in households with non-smokers, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey that tracked, among other things, how many days of school children aged 6 to11 missed and the reason for their absence.

They found children living with one or more smokers in the home missed one to two more days of school per year on average, than those who lived with non-smokers.  The research suggests that families could reduce absenteeism by 24 to 34 % if smoking was eliminated from their households.

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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.

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