1. Smoking increases risk of deadliest stroke

    Lighting up leads to the worst kind of stroke

    Smoking isn't just any old bad habit. It's a bad habit that'll kill you -- but you already knew that, right?

    What you might not know is all the horrible ways you can die as a result of smoking.

    So while it's common knowledge that smokers have a higher risk of stroke, not many people realize that cigarettes can boost the odds of an especially deadly form of stroke called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

    That's when an aneurysm suddenly bursts in the area between the brain and the tissue that surrounds it. But if it ever happens to you, you won't know any of that -- all you'll know is that you've got the world's worst headache, with pain so bad you'll actually black out.

    It's 50-50 whether you'll ever wake up again. That's how bad subarachnoid hemorrhage is -- and a new study finds that pack-a-day smokers face triple the risk of having one when compared to nonsmokers.

    If you're a smoker, quitting can help slash the risk of this form of stroke -- but you'd better stop now, because it takes a while for your risk to normalize.

    Five years after quitting, people who smoked less than a pack a day still had a 59 percent increase in risk. And those who had a pack or more each day were 2.3 times more likely to suffer one, according to the data published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

    That's not the only bad news for smokers when it comes to stroke risk. If you've managed to survive any form of stroke at all, you'd better kick the habit now -- or you'll kick the bucket later.

    Smokers who don't quit after a stroke have triple the risk of death within a year when compared to those who quit -- and smokers who start lighting up within 10 days of leaving the hospital are five times more likely to die in that year.

    These stroke-related risks alone should be enough to get anyone to quit, but they're only a small part of the risk. Smokers, of course, also face cancer, heart disease, emphysema, COPD, and more -- not to mention coughing, wheezing, bad breath, and that constant stale cigarette odor that follows you around everywhere.

    So quit while you still can -- just make sure you do it the right way.

    The drugs given to "help" people quit smoking are barely effective and can be even more dangerous than the cigarettes themselves. And the smokeless "e-cigs" now being touted as the safer alternative aren't very safe at all.

    One new study finds e-cig vapors can cause sudden rises in airway resistance. That's when air doesn't pass through the lungs as easily, and it's a sure sign these supposedly "safer" cigarettes are anything but.

    After 10 minutes of puffing, nonsmokers saw their airway resistance rise to 206 percent from 182 percent. And in smokers with normal lung function (for now), it rose to 220 percent from 176 percent.

    It remains to be seen whether e-cigs are any safer than real cigs overall, but with no long-term research -- and precious little short-term research -- I'd say stay away.

    Besides, there are much better ways to kick butts for good -- starting with the most successful method of all, the one used by close to 90 percent of successful ex-smokers: cold turkey.

    No drugs, no tricks, no gimmicks -- and while it's not always easy, it works.

  2. Acupuncture and hypnosis proven to help quit smoking

    Go alternative to quit smoking

    I can think of plenty of great reasons to quit smoking -- and I can think of just as many fruitless ways to try to achieve that goal.

    From dangerous drugs to worthless patches, it's easy to get frustrated when you think you've tried "everything," but still find yourself puffing away on your cancer sticks.

    Don't give up, because a new study shows that some of the safe and natural anti-smoking therapies I recommend all the time are far more effective than anything the mainstream has to offer.

    Researchers say their review of 14 studies finds that both acupuncture and hypnosis are more effective than going cold turkey with no treatment. In some cases, the acupuncture patients had triple the success rate of those who didn't get any help quitting.

    The new analysis doesn't offer a direct comparison of either acupuncture or hypnosis to nicotine patches and gums, but a 2008 study on laser acupuncture found that 55 percent of those who received the treatment were not smoking within six months.

    That's remarkable -- because up to 93 percent of smokers who try nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gums are either back to smoking or still smoking six months later.

    That makes the acupuncture eight times more effective.

    Surprised? Not me -- I see it all the time. I have a terrific acupuncturist on my staff who has helped plenty of my patients kick butts for good.

    And if any of my patients smoke but aren't trying to quit, they hear it from me every time they walk in.

    It's not that I want to be a nag. It's that in addition to the obvious risks -- cancer emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, smoker's cough, bad breath, and more -- smokers face a number of other serious health concerns.

    Cigarettes expose smokers -- and those around them -- to toxic heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. Cigarettes from tobacco grown with certain fertilizers can also contain polonium, a radioactive element.

    And let's not forget all the other dangerous chemicals and additives deliberately put into cigarettes. I've seen estimates that there are up to 4,000 chemicals in each cigarette.

    That's a lot of toxins gathered in one place, all headed into your body every time you inhale.

    You don't want that. Quit now -- while you still can.

  3. How to turn a harmless tumor into a deadly cancer

    Most prostate cancers don't need to be treated because the disease won't kill or even hurt most of the men who get it. But there's one group of men who have more to worry about than the rest of us -- because for them, prostate cancer really can carry deadly risk.

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