I smoked for years. I would quit for a few weeks at a time occasionally, but I always went back. For me, smoking cured everything; it could be anything I needed it to be. I could celebrate, mourn, fume, and daydream. It was proof that I existed: I was interacting with my environment and leaving evidence, all the while putting forth pretty much the least amount of physical effort possible. It was an excuse to sit and look at things. I could sit and stare into the middle distance and think to myself all I wanted because I was still doing something: I was smoking.
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
Here's a strange one for the books: Science has taken notice that a really, really LARGE proportion of schizophrenic patients smoke. In fact, Scientific American Mind reports that an average of 85% of schizophrenic patients smoke cigarettes compared to only 20% in the general population. Many schizophrenics also appear to have abnormal thermoregulation, an impaired ability to understand body language, an inability to perceive an optical illusion called "the hollow mask illusion," an impaired ability to produce a brain protein known as the muscarinic M1 receptor, and an abnormally large number of genetic mutations known as CNV's or "copy number variations."
Are US tobacco companies conspiring to make tobacco more addictive through additives or aren't they? Ever since the first reports published in 1999, this has been debated off and on for years as the tobacco lobby defended itself against allegations of racketeering and outright lies. Recently they lost the case. But the question of American cigarettes being more addictive than others still remains unsettled.
A New State of Mind. "New research is linking dopamine to complex social phenomena and changing neuroscience in the process."
The Australian cigarette health warnings have pretty much filtered down to every retail packet that's bought now. They're pretty gruesome and some smoking acquaintances cover them up with stickers. I thought I'd have a look around and see what other countries warnings were like. None of them were pulling any punches except for Uruguay.
M. Scott Peck: I'm a prophet, not a saint M. Scott Peck, author of the ultimate self-help manual, has Parkinson’s and his wife of 43 years has walked out. Interesting profile of M. Scott Peck, the best-selling self-help author who preached self-discipline and delayed gratification despite being a smoker, a drinker, and an adulterer. Via Bookslut. (Possibly nsfw drawing of nude woman.)
Speaking Of weight loss and exercise... Those who like their booze also like their nicotine. People who drink to excess also tend to be chronic smokers, and a new report suggests the combination of the two might prove more toxic than either one alone. a small study found chronic smoking + alcohol dependence = increased severity of brain damage. The frontal lobes (short-term storage sites) turn out to be the most damaged. A separate study used rats to show that alcoholism and excessive food intake may share the same chemical pathways in the brain. Forbes has the HealthDayNews report that focuses mainly on the smokes, MSNBC looks more at the eats. They also have an interesting Addictions Sections. Could it be that some folks are just prone to addictions and everyone settles on something different?
Smoking - A quitters diary. Recommended reading for those wanting to quit, those who have quit and those lucky people who never started and could do with understanding the 'ordeal' of giving up.