“Smoking is perhaps the most difficult of all addictions to fight because nicotine is a self-administered drug that is highly addictive,” said Stanley Glick, Ph.D., M.D., director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College.
Dr. Glick said every puff on a cigarette delivers nicotine to the brain within seven seconds, causing brain cells to release dopamine, a chemical that helps control pleasurable feelings. So each puff triggers a feeling of reward, and soon a person can become a pack-a-day smoker, taking about 73,000 puffs a year, he explained.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. and yet about 46.6 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths, killing more people annually than cancer of the breast, colon, prostate and pancreas combined.
The risk of developing lung cancer drops significantly once a person quits smoking, said Mark Napier, M.D., medical director of Albany Med’s Multispecialty Lung Cancer Program. “Quitting is the most important intervention to prevent lung and heart disease. Nothing is more effective for disease prevention,” he said.
The best way to quit smoking, according to Dr. Napier, is to get help from a smoking cessation program and to layer many methods together, such as setting a quit date, using a nicotine patch, getting counseling and using medication—either over-the-counter products or medication prescribed by a physician.
For help quitting smoking and to reduce cancer risk, contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487) and https://www.nysmokefree.com/ or the American Cancer Society.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with 350 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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