For some smokers, even a cancer diagnosis isn’t enough incentive to quit, Harvard researchers have found
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital tracked more than 1,400 lung and colorectal cancer patients to see whether they had quit smoking after being diagnosed.
What they found: Five months after learning they had cancer, 37 percent of those with lung cancer and 66 percent with colorectal cancer were still smoking. The results are published online in the medical journal Cancer.
Kicking a smoking habit is good for health anytime, researchers noted, but is especially important after a diagnosis of cancer. Continuing to smoke can lessen the effectiveness of cancer treatment and slow recovery after surgery.
Smokers who quit may live longer after being diagnosed with cancer than those who don’t.
“Research has shown that nicotine is at least as addictive as cocaine and heroin,” noted a report on the study on the Web-based publication Harvard Health.
“Each hit of nicotine activates the brain’s reward and motivation center, producing pleasurable feelings. But as nicotine gets washed out of the body, the feelings of pleasure are replaced by uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal—trouble concentrating, nervousness, headache, dizziness, irritability, anxiety, increased appetite, depression, and sleeping problems. This prompts users to reach for a cigarette.”