Science & Medicine

The Empowered Patient – A Great Time to Set Goals

Michael G. Goldstein

Starting a new year is a great time to make a commitment to change a behavior to improve health. New Year’s resolutions actually work for many people.

There are several changes that can produce a big payoff in health and wellbeing. These include becoming tobacco free, being physically active, and managing weight.

In this column, I will focus on giving up tobacco, as becoming tobacco free is the single most powerful change a person can make to improve health and prevent future illness.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, with approximately 443,000 U.S. adults dying from smoking-related illnesses each year!

If you have a MPN, you already know that smoking is an even greater risk for you than the general population because of nicotine and tobacco’s toxic effects on blood vessels, the heart and the brain. And, because tobacco use is linked to so many types of cancers, your chances of getting a second cancer, already higher if you have been treated with certain types of cancer therapies, are increased further if you smoke.

The good news is that your risk for having a stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular event are reduced dramatically as soon as you quit smoking and the risks of getting a tobacco-associated cancer also diminish over time.

Even if you don’t smoke, someone you love may be a smoker and might benefit from quitting smoking as a New Year’s resolution, or any time!

Several forms of effective smoking cessation treatment, including medication, counseling and support, are now readily available:

  • Medications reduce symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and improve rates of quitting. Some nicotine replacement therapies (e.g., patch, gum, lozenge) are available over-the-counter while others (i.e., nicotine inhaler and spray; bupropion; varenicline) are available by prescription.
  • Behavioral counseling, alone or when provided with medication, improves quit rates. Counseling is provided in individual and group formats and also via free state-supported telephone quit lines
  • Online quit programs and mobile aps also show great promise.

So, take advantage of the the new year to quit smoking or encourage a loved one to get the help they need to quit.

For quitting resources and more on the Great American Smokeout:

For a wonderful Youtube video by Dr. Mike Evans on how to quit smoking

And for additional quitting resources see the National Cancer Institute site at:

It would be great to hear about your personal experiences either quitting smoking yourself, or helping a loved one become tobacco free. Feel free to ask any questions as well.


Take me back to the Contents

© Michael Goldstein and, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael Goldstein and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Comments on: "The Empowered Patient – A Great Time to Set Goals" (3)

  1. Sorry for the delayed responses Bonnie and Kathy. Thanks for your comments. Bonnie, so glad to hear you quit when you did…for both you and Joe. Yes, exposure to second hand smoke is a problem for all. Let’s hope that folks get the support they need for quitting so we all live healthier lives.

  2. Kathy Van Meter said:

    I have friends who have smoked for over 50 years. I no longer worry about them. But I do worry about the many kids at my son’s high school who smoke, as do so many 20 somethings. Thank you for the article.

  3. californiabonnie said:

    I quit smoking 30 years ago by cold turkey. It was very difficult to do but I was determined to beat the habit. After a week I no longer woke up with phelym in my lungs that I had to cough up. I got to where I was sensitive to the smell of tobacco. My body and clothes no longer smelled like tobacco. My regular serious bouts with bronchitis ceased. Unfortunately I do gain weight. Thank goodness Joe does not have to worry about breathing in my tobacco smoke.

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