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Health and Medicine for Seniors

New Online Effort Aimed at Helping Older People Stop Smoking

Seniors have to know cigarette smoking is leading cause of preventable, premature death and illness in U.S., responsible for almost half a million deaths yearly

June 27, 2014 – For most seniors it is probably hard to believe that there are senior citizens who still smoke. Older Americans lived through the smoking era and saw the hard-fought battle by the medical profession to prove how deadly the habit can be. It is almost startling to learn that the National Institutes of Health has launched a new online effort to help older adults stop smoking.

“Most older adults know that smoking is harmful, and many have tried unsuccessfully to quit, often a number of times. But stopping smoking is a difficult goal that still eludes many older smokers,” says Erik Augustson, program director of the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which developed the topic for NIHSeniorHealth.

“This new topic, which offers a mix of tips and tools geared to the needs and experiences of older smokers, is an important, easy-to-use resource that can benefit those trying to quit for the first time as well as those who have tried before.”

Quitting Smoking for Older Adults is the new topic one NIHSeniorHealth.  It offers videos, worksheets, interactive features, strategies, quizzes, and more for older smokers who want to or are thinking of quitting.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death and illness in the United States, responsible for almost half a million deaths each year.

In addition to lung and other cancers, smoking can cause heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as COPD. The recent Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking - 50 Years of Progress, provides new data that links smoking to bone disease, cataract, diabetes, macular degeneration, and erectile dysfunction.

 

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Research shows that people who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness. Although the rates of smoking have declined in recent years for all age groups, nearly 10 percent of adults over 65 - almost 4 million older Americans - continue to smoke.

NCI, which based the topic on its resource, Clear Horizons: A Quit Smoking Guide for People 50 and Older, has also included information about the challenges and advantages of quitting when you’re older, smoking’s effect on medications, and how to handle withdrawal, cravings, and more.

Quitting Smoking for Older Adults joins a growing roster of research-based health topics geared toward older adults, including exercise and physical activity, long-term care, safe use of medicines, and management of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease.

NIHSeniorHealth, a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), components of NIH, is designed to be senior friendly and tailored to the cognitive and visual needs of older adults. The short, easy-to-read segments of information, large print, opened captioned videos, and simple navigation make the information on the site easy for older adults to find, see, and understand.

About NCI: NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About NIA: NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to www.nia.nih.gov.

About NLM: NLM is the world's largest library of the health sciences and collects, organizes, and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals, and the public. For more information, visit the website at www.nlm.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH)… NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

 

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