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.