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Quitting Smoking Tougher on Women

If pounds add up, some get nervous and start puffing again, study says

FRIDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women who quit smoking tend to suffer more intense withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, poor concentration and weight gain, a new report says.

Whether men or women tend to be more successful at ending their cigarette habit was not determined by the report, published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. But the study noted that after gaining an average of 5 to 10 pounds during withdrawal, some women start smoking again.

"People need to realize that if they have a relapse, they can learn from it," Patrick Draper, a tobacco treatment specialist at the Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center, said in a news release issued by the clinic. "The only way to stop smoking is to keep trying."

Most people require four to six tries before successfully quitting, and Draper suggested four key steps to help end the addiction:

  • Set a date or time frame for quitting: Whether you pick a day or say you'll do it in the next 30 to 60 days, stick to it.
  • Medications can help: Using medical options such as a nicotine patch, gum lozenge or inhaler can reduce nicotine cravings and double your chances of quitting. Antidepressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix), can also help decrease nicotine withdrawal symptoms, the news release said.
  • Seek counsel: A tobacco treatment specialist can help set up a plan that works just for you.
  • Get support: Having someone for support -- whether a friend, family member or a connection made in an online support group -- helps.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about quitting smoking.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, December 2008

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