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Study: Immediate Heart Benefits When Smokers Quit

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Inflammation associated with heart disease decreases almost immediately after smokers quit, providing even more incentive to those struggling with nicotine addiction, Reuters reported Aug. 14.

Researchers led by Christine N. Meta of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y., found that markers for inflammation decreased greatly within weeks of quitting. The researchers tracked C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and other substances in a group of women taking part in a smoking-cessation program. Levels of the substances fell steadily during the course of the six- to seven-week study.

The study has implications for smoking prevention and cessation, the study authors said. “Quantifiable information reflecting cardiovascular health may act as positive reinforcement for those trying to quit and remain smoke free,” they wrote. “We propose the identification of a panel of inflammatory biomarkers that could be used as measurable milestones for persons quitting smoking in a smoking cessation program focused on improving cardiovascular health for smokers who are at risk.”

The findings appear in the July 2009 issue of the journal Chest.

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