Smoking Cessation Improves Good Cholesterol Levels: Another Reason to Kick the Habit Print Write e-mail
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Smoking - Smoking 2010
Written by Frank Mangano   
Sunday, 21 November 2010 19:18

For smokers who just could not find the right motivation to stop the habit, here’s another reason why you should: a recent study revealed that smoking cessation increases the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), otherwise known as the “good” cholesterol, inside the body.

This is despite the fact that people who stopped smoking has put on approximately 10 pounds of weight over a period of one year.  Still, those who refused to give up the habit gained 1.5 pounds.  This is according to the results of the data provided by Dr. Adam Gepner from Madison’s University of Wisconsin.

Despite the ensuing weight gain normally linked to smoking cessation, the levels of HDL cholesterol shot up in the blood of people who quit, averaging 2.4 mg/dL, while HDL levels in people who continuously smoked were relatively stable. With the use of an imaging test, the nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the researchers discovered that HDL particles’ actual number also increased in the group who stopped smoking, in contrast to those who continued to smoke.

However, smoking cessation did not appear to affect the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad” cholesterol.

Improved HDL Levels Lower Cardiovascular Risks

The spokesman for the American Health Association, Dr. Russel Luepker from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, informs WebMD that studies indicate that gaining weight may exert negative effects on the levels of bad cholesterol than on good cholesterol levels. Dr. Luepker, who was not a part of the researchers, said that the possibility of having an LDL benefit that is associated with smoking cessation may have been good if only there was no weight gain involved, and that HDL benefits would have been stronger.

In a statement made by Dr. Gepner to WebMD, he said that in the long run, enhanced HDL levels has the potential to turn into a reduced risk of heart diseases.  Furthermore, he said that previous studies revealed that an increase of 1 milligram per decilitre in HDL levels reduces the risk of events related to heart diseases including death from cardiovascular diseases, strokes and heart attacks. Risk reduction over a 10-year period is by 2 percent to 3 percent. What appears to be of interest though is the fact that both heavy and light smokers obtained matching HDL benefit. The means utilized by the individual in order to stop smoking also did not bear significance so as to affect the outcome.

The study enrolled 923 women and men in order to test different methods of smoking cessation which includes the use of nicotine patches and nicotine lozenges.  At the time of their enrolment to the study, the participants have been smoking two packs per day on an average.  After one year, a third of the participants have successfully stopped smoking.

Dr. Gepner said that the exact mechanism as to how smoking influences the levels of cholesterol in the body is still unknown, although it is thought to affect lipid particles transportation.

The Dangers of Smoking

Time and again, the effects of smoking, and its many dangers, have been emphasized mainly because it does not only affect the smoker but to other people, the economy and the environment as well. Smoking is the cause of death for 500,000 Americans per year. It surpasses combined deaths due to fires, drug overdose, suicides, homicides, car accidents and AIDS.

There are a lot of smoking-related diseases nowadays, the most popular of which are heart ailments, respiratory problems and lung cancer. This conveys a chilling message:  smoking leads to reduced life expectancy. As time goes by, chronic smokers, and the people around them (via secondary smoke), are more prone to develop a lot of medical conditions.  The list is long, but examples are:

  • Cancer of the kidney
  • Cancer of the pancreas
  • Cancer of the bladder
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Oral cancer
  • Cancer of the larynx
  • Cervical cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Arteriosclerosis (thickened arteries)
  • Impotence and Infertility (for men)
  • Heart disease
  • Hearing Loss
  • Loss of Sight (macular degeneration and cataracts)
  • Dementia
  • Incontinence
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke

Studies have also linked smoking to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), birth defects, stillbirth and miscarriage.  For pregnant women who smoke, the risk of their child developing depression, conduct disorders and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are greatly increased.

What is Nicotine?

Tobacco contains nicotine – an odourless and colourless substance that may seem to do no harm.  On the contrary, nicotine is addictive, making the person want to light up one cigarette after another. Once inhaled, nicotine goes to the bloodstream so fast that it can reach the brain in a matter of 10 seconds.  Add another 5 to 10 seconds more and nicotine is all over the body. By then, the blood pressure and heart rate is increased, making the person feel more relaxed and alert. However, its effects do not last for more than 30 minutes since the amount of nicotine that remains in the bloodstream is reduced to half.  At this time, the smoker begins to feel more edgy, and less alert, so he lights up another one, and then another one, and then another one.

How to Quit Smoking Naturally

  • Exercise
  • Eat fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and drink fresh juices to help reduce cravings.
  • The intake of chlorella and spirulina, high-fiber and low-fat foods make detoxification faster.  It also helps maintain one’s energy levels.
  • Increase your intake of green leafy salads each day.
  • Eat fish more than twice a week to limit the damage caused by tobacco.
  • Avoid junk food, alcohol, caffeine and too much sugar.
  • Get your daily dose of vitamins A, B, C and E as these helps protect cell membranes and other tissues.
  • Herbs such as skullcap, Valerian, Lavender, Chaparral, Chamomile, Angelica, Sagebrush and Nicotiana helps reduce cravings and calm the nerves.
  • Once the cravings are too strong, go for a walk, read a book, meditate, take warm baths, take a nap – do anything that can keep you away from smoking.
  • Join a smoking program or go for counselling. The American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society provides such programs.




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