Quitting smoking is possible: get help, you will gain more days of life

Quitting smoking is possible: get help, you will gain more days of life


According to data from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, there are 12,400,000 smokers in Italy and they smoke an average of 15 cigarettes a day, representing almost 30% of the population over the age of 15. Perhaps many of them do not know that the World Health Organization has defined tobacco smoke as "the number one preventable cause of disease and death in today's society".

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A week of smoking means one day less to live

Cigarette smoking significantly affects the average life span, as well as its quality: it is calculated that for every week of smoking one day of life is lost. Smoking increases the risk of developing many types of cancer, first of all lung cancer, but also cancers of the oral cavity, throat, esophagus, pancreas, colon, bladder, prostate, kidney, breast, ovaries as well as some leukemias.

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Chronic exposure to smoke can cause damage to male sexuality, amplifying the risk of impotence and negatively affect the female reproductive system, causing earlier menopauses and increased risk of miscarriages. Without considering, then, the aesthetic damage, such as premature aging of the skin and yellowing of the teeth.

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How to quit smoking

Quitting smoking is not always a simple process, because aspects of a physiological and psychological nature converge in the smoker. The smoker can find help through his family doctor or by contacting the Anti-Smoking Centers, which can offer useful tools to abandon this bad habit.

From a chemical and biological point of view, the nicotine contained in cigarettes favors the establishment of a physical dependence; from a psychological point of view, the decision to smoke is often supported by motivational, emotional and affective factors which make it difficult to quit.

According to ISTAT statistics, 90% of people quit without needing help. This means that it is possible to quit and the chances of success increase the more support you receive. There are numerous approaches that can be useful: from psychological ones, such as hypnosis, to auriculotherapy or acupuncture. However, the only scientifically validated one combines pharmacological and psychological support.

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A gradual reduction

One of the recommended methods to overcome the lack of nicotine is to gradually reduce its introduction, compensating for it through nicotine replacement therapy with decreasing doses. For this purpose, there are plasters, chewing gum, sublingual sprays and inhalers. All these products control the physical discomfort caused by the lack of nicotine, increasing the chances of success for those who intend to quit smoking. They can be bought in pharmacies without a medical prescription: they are safe even in pregnancy, under medical supervision, but they must be used respecting the doses and times indicated.

In some cases, the doctor can prescribe medications to help get through the most difficult moment of quitting the cigarette. The drugs used for this purpose are cytisine and bupropion, both of which require a prescription. Cytisine reduces the desire to smoke and the pleasure that derives from it, while bupropion decreases the feeling of lack of nicotine.

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by Federico Mereta



The psychological counseling

Individual psychological counseling, group therapy and coaching, a personal development methodology towards the acquisition of a higher degree of awareness, responsibility, choice, trust and autonomy, are always useful in the path to detach from cigarettes.

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Bottom line, I'd say that while we're all on our way to the graveyard, let's at least try not to stay in the fast lane.

* Prof. Pierfilippo Crucitti, Director of the Thoracic Surgery Complex Operating Unit, Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital Foundation

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