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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Stress

T_stress1
Yet another mealy mouthed survey that “concludes” that stopping smoking lowers your stress levels, or, as they put it:
Smokers often say they need a cigarette to calm their nerves, but a new study suggests that after a person kicks the habit, chronic stress levels may go down.
Here’s the rest in full:
The findings, say researchers, should give smokers reassurance that quitting will not deprive them of a valuable stress reliever.

In a study of 469 smokers who tried to quit after being hospitalized for heart disease, the researchers found that those who remained abstinent for a year showed a reduction in their perceived stress levels. In contrast, stress levels were essentially unchanged among heart patients who went back to smoking.
The study, reported in the journal Addiction, supports the theory that, at least for some people, smoking actually contributes to chronic stress.

"Smokers often see cigarettes as a tool to manage stress, and ex-smokers sometimes return to smoking in the belief that this will help them cope with a stressful life event," lead researcher Peter Hajek, a professor at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK, told Reuters Health in an email.

Yet, he said, studies have shown that non-smokers tend to report lower stress levels than smokers do.

The reason for that difference has been unclear, but it could mean that people vulnerable to stress are more likely to take up smoking -- and that taking away that habit could worsen their stress.

On the other hand, smoking itself may generate long-term stress, even if people feel it offers them temporary relief from trying situations.

Hajek's team looked at that question by recruiting 469 smokers who had been hospitalized for a heart attack or heart bypass surgery. While the patients were still in the hospital, they completed surveys on their perceived stress levels and smoking habits. All said they were motivated to quit and had agreed to take part in a clinical trial of in-hospital smoking-cessation counseling.

At the outset, most of the study participants -- about 85 percent -- said they believed that smoking helped them deal with stress to some extent. Half said that the habit "very much" helped them cope.

One year later, the study participants were surveyed again, at which point 41 percent had managed to remain abstinent.

On average, Hajek and his colleagues found, the abstainers showed a 20 percent reduction in their reported stress levels, while patients who had gone back to smoking showed little change in their perceived stress.

The relationship between abstinence and reduced stress held up when the researchers accounted for factors such as patients' age and education, how heavily they had smoked before quitting, and how high their stress scores had been at the start of the study.

The findings, according to the researchers, support the idea that dependency on cigarettes is itself a chronic source of stress.

"When dependent smokers cannot smoke, as the period without cigarettes lengthens they tend to feel more and more edgy, irritable and uncomfortable," Hajek explained. "A cigarette relieves this stressful state, and this is probably the main reason smokers think that smoking relieves stress."
So someone who smokes 20 cigarettes per day, for example, essentially goes through 20 bouts of stress each day, as the levels of nicotine in the body decline. Once that person quits -- and gets over the initial period of withdrawal -- he will have 20 fewer periods of stress each day, Hajek said.

"Many smokers worry that if they stop smoking, they will lose a valuable tool for coping with difficult situations and stresses in their lives," Hajek noted.
These findings, he said, instead suggest that quitting may not only benefit smokers' physical health, but possibly their mental well-being as well.
On the links at the side of the above ‘study’ I came across this:
Smokers who have higher levels of vitamin B6 and certain essential proteins in their blood have a lower risk of getting lung cancer than those deficient in these nutrients, according to study by cancer specialists.
Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that although they had not found a causal link, the results may be a clue to why some smokers never get lung cancer and some non-smokers or former smokers do.
I never knew reading all these studies could be so stressful.

2 comments:

Paul Kearns said...

What a load of complete bollocks.
For most of my life I have not smoked - I stop and start and so on - always have done.
The first time I stopped (for 7 years), 3 weeks into it, my Grandad died in my arms (which was a bit stressful) - but, at that point I had simply decided I was bored with smoking - so I remained abstinent.
After 7 years, I decided that I liked smoking - so I started again - made no difference to my stress levels.
I then decided that I had enough "for now" and stopped again (this time actually for 10 years). About 6 months into this, I had a nervous breakdown (nothing to do with smoking but everything to do with stress) and spent 2 weeks in a mental institution. Whilst in there, despite dealing with overwhelming stress, I never considered smoking - as I was simply bored with it at that time.
After 10 years, we decided we enjoyed a fag with a pint, got bored with it after about 18 months and stopped for another 18 months, then started again.
The only fecking thing that keeps me smoking at the moment (as I am again bored with it) is the ban. I will not be TOLD what I can or cannot do. Had it not been for the ban, I probably would have, for at least 2 years now, been in one of my non smoking periods, considering starting again.
Nothing to do with stress - everything to do with actually enjoying a fag - simply as that.
So far as I recall, there are some 25,000,000 smokers (and growing) in the UK (or is it 25%) - anyway, it's millions and a "survey" of 469 people is around as representative as the average number of people who voted Monster Raving Loony Party in the seats that they fought.

All they have really proven is stress and smoking are unrelated - which is a valuable lesson to learn - wonder how much it cost us?

Fecking idiots.

TheBigYin said...

Aye Paul, it's all bollox. It still amazes me what they come out with. It never seems to stop.

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