The Smoker's Guide to Vitamins and Health

If you smoke, you can protect yourself from cancer, heart disease and more by taking vitamins or eating foods rich in vitamins.

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If you smoke, you can protect yourself from cancer, heart disease and more by taking vitamins or eating foods rich in vitamins. That's the message from this book.

Get the latest facts on how to protect your health:

  • A Harvard University study shows these vitamins cut smokers' heart disease risk by 70%.
  • These foods cut smokers' lung cancer risk by 48% . Are they on your menu ?
  • Two top university studies show smokers who take this vitamin cut their heart disease risk by 33%.
  • This vitamin helps remove the poisonous chemicals in cigarette smoke from your body.
  • Smoking a pack a day cuts your body's store of this cancer-fighting vitamin by up to 34%. Government health experts recommend smokers take more. Most smokers aren't getting enough - are you ?
  • Studies worldwide show that drinking this popular beverage cuts cancer risk. What do you drink ?

Protecting your health can be as easy as taking a few vitamins at breakfast. Get all the facts, stay healthy and live longer.

What the experts say:

"... a very well-researched and accurate summary of research on smoking, vitamins and health. It will show you why you should get enough vitamins and fruits and vegetables, to reduce the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.... Even with today's busy lifestyles, it is possible to take valuable steps to protect your health."
Gladys Block PhD, Professor of Public Health and Nutrition, University of California at Berkeley.

".... offers a practical understanding of the special nutritional perils that smokers face, and the steps they can take to reduce their risks of developing disease."
Robert A. Jacob, PhD, FACN, Human Nutrition Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, San Francisco, CA.

" May this book find its way into the hands and minds of all those who know about the health risk they face by cigarette smoking, ... who can now actively do something to reduce their risk."
Hans-Anton Lehr MD, PhD, Medical Center, University of Washington, WA.

"... well-researched, easy to read, ... a valuable resource for smokers."
Harinder S Garewal, MD, PhD, Assistant Director, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, University of Arizona, AZ.

 

Sample Chapter

Chapter 1 - How Smokers Can Protect Their Health

Dear Smoker,

After decades of health warnings from the Surgeon General and other health authorities few people would now deny that smoking carries health risks. However despite these risks over 46 million Americans, about one fourth of the adult population choose to smoke. It is for you dear reader, one of this much neglected and persecuted group that this book is written.

In it you will find a summary of the results from more than 200 scientific studies on smoking, vitamins and health. A great number of these studies show a strong and consistent link between a high intake of antioxidant vitamins or fresh fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidant vitamins and reduced risk of smoking related diseases. Also included are other simple changes you can make in the foods you eat which offer health protection for smokers.

Increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables, taking vitamin supplements or changing your food choices are all simple and inexpensive ways you can protect your health.

A little history

Medical science has conquered the major infectious diseases smallpox, tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera by finding an antidote to the microbe or foreign invader responsible for the infection. We now have vaccines to prevent these diseases or treatments to clear them up quickly when they occur.

Unfortunately the ailments from which most people in the industrialized world now suffer are the degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis and cataract. Unlike infectious diseases which can lay you low or kill you in a matter of weeks or even days, it takes years or in some cases decades for the degenerative diseases to get the better of you. The infectious diseases of old have now been conquered, but unfortunately for the degenerative diseases, modern medical science has no quick and easy answers.

It is now widely accepted that these degenerative diseases are the result not of a single foreign agent invading the body but come about when a number of factors overwhelm the body's defenses. As this is a book for smokers, let's take lung cancer as an example. Most people, including smokers, now accept that smoking is a cause of lung cancer. However not all smokers get lung cancer and on the other hand about 8% of people who have never smoked are struck down with this disease. Factors other than smoking must play a part. What you eat, atmospheric pollution, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, stress and probably several other factors all contribute to weaken our bodies defense system and increase vulnerability to this cancer and many other diseases.

The importance of what you eat

In the 1970s population surveys began to show a consistent link between a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and lowered rates of cancer and heart disease. Attention then turned to examining the results of these studies nutrient by nutrient to uncover the link with specific ailments.

Vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, known as the antioxidants, soon took center stage as the evidence continued to build. The point has now been reached where several hundred scientific studies link a high intake of these antioxidant vitamins or foods rich in them with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, especially lung cancer. There is little need to remind you here that as a smoker these are the ailments from which you are most at risk.

Smokers and vitamins - the bad news and the good news

The bad news - Several large scale surveys have measured the antioxidant vitamin status of smokers compared to nonsmokers and consistently report the following:

  • Smokers have lower intake of antioxidant vitamins
  • Smokers use up antioxidant vitamins more rapidly
  • Smokers have lower blood and tissue levels of these vitamins

In other words smokers are nearly always deficient in the essential antioxidant vitamins which have shown a strong and consistent link with reduced risk of heart disease, lung cancer and a wide range of other ailments associated with smoking.

The good news - Fortunately increasing your intake and raising your blood and tissue levels of the antioxidant vitamins is not difficult. Broadly speaking you have three choices:

  • Change your diet. Increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat will raise your intake of vitamin C and carotenes. This is the best way to get your daily needs of these two vitamins as scientists believe fruits and vegetables may contain other as yet undiscovered protective nutrients.
  • Take vitamin supplements. If you are unable, or do not choose to eat the recommended quantities of fruits and vegetables to get sufficient vitamin C and beta carotene then you have the option to take supplements. As it is nearly impossible to get sufficient vitamin E from foods to reach the level at which protective effects have been found, taking supplements is the only way to go for this vitamin.
  • Combine the two. Do your best to increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and take vitamin supplements to ensure your intake of these nutrients reaches the level which gives optimum health and provides maximum protection from disease.

 

About the Author

Alistair Moodie was born in Ayr, a small county town on the west coast of Scotland. His father, a country veterinarian, much like James Herriot of "All Creatures Great and Small" fame, taught him from an early age the value of common sense and an independent mind.

However despite the strong influence of nonsmoking parents, Moodie took up the habit in his early teens and continued to smoke, more or less continuously for nearly twenty-five years, eventually "quitting for good" at age 38. A family history of lung complaints and his father's early death from heart disease drove him to search for ways to reduce the health risks. He lives in Maryland with his wife Margaret and daughter Fiona.

 

From the Foreword

Gladys Block PhD, Professor of Public Health and Nutrition, University of California at Berkeley, CA
Recommending dietary changes for smokers is controversial. Everyone agrees that the best thing they can do for their health is to stop smoking. And so do I. But what about the person who has stopped, but is still at increased risk? And what about the person who is exposed to second-hand smoke? And what about the smoker who has tried to stop but has not yet been successful? If there is anything they can do to reduce their health risk, they have a right to know about it.

There is a great deal of research on the harmful effects of cigarette smoking (not just lung cancer!). But many people are not aware that there is also a great deal of research on fruits and vegetables and the antioxidant nutrients they provide, and how much they may reduce people's risk of harmful effects like heart disease and cancer. It is also known that smoking lowers blood levels of these antioxidants, and the National Academy of Sciences' Food and Nutrition Board has even set a higher daily requirement for vitamin C in smokers.

Alistair Moodie's book is a very well-researched and accurate summary of that research on smoking, vitamins and health. It will show you why you should get enough vitamins and fruits and vegetables, to reduce the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. Just as important he has very practical and specific suggestions about how to increase your intake of these nutrients. Even with today's busy lifestyles, it is possible to take valuable steps to protect your health.

 

Robert A Jacob, PhD, FACN, Research Chemist, Micronutrients Unit, US Department of Agriculture , Agricultural Research Service, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Presidio of San Francisco, CA.
Research studies have consistently shown that eating diets high in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of developing many degenerative diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and eye cataracts. This is why dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Heart Association recommend eating five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

It is not known which of the many substances in fruits and vegetables might be responsible for the protection against disease, or why they are protective, but evidence indicates that "antioxidants" contribute substantially to the protection. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E and carotenes, can neutralize reactive oxygen species called "free radicals", which can damage body cells and initiate disease. Fruit and vegetables contain abundant amounts of natural antioxidants.

Recent research shows that smokers have lower blood levels of antioxidants compared to non-smokers, even when dietary intakes are equal. Smoking produces an increased oxidative stress on the body, and the body's antioxidants are used up faster in smokers than in non-smokers. This effect has been officially recognized only for vitamin C, for which the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) was increased to 100 mg per day for smokers compared 60 mg per day for non-smokers. Recent evidence suggests that recommended allowances for other protective nutrients also should be raised for smokers. Thus smokers, who have an increased risk of developing many degenerative diseases due to smoking itself, also have lower body levels of nutrients that are protective against disease.

In the following pages, Alistair Moodie provides important information that smokers should know about antioxidants and health and the changes that smokers can make in their diet to help protect their health if they continue to smoke. Besides quitting smoking, the most useful change that smokers can make is to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. Supplementing the diet with antioxidants is a secondary choice because there are many antioxidants in plants which are not yet isolated and available in supplement form. Also, many components of fruits and vegetables may protect against disease through actions other than antioxidant protection.

The author summarizes a great deal of information related to smoking, vitamins and health in a unique and interesting way. More importantly, this book offers a practical understanding of the special nutritional perils that smokers face, and the steps they can take to reduce their risks of developing disease .

 

Hans-Anton Lehr MD, PhD, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA.
Let's face it: SMOKING IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH - and no one can pretend they haven't heard. However despite the well documented health risks about 25% of adults in the United States, 46 million people, continue to smoke.

Interestingly more than two thirds of smokers express a desire to quit at least once every year, but only one in 40 does so with lasting success. The failure of so many smokers to quit the habit is largely due to the addictive action of nicotine, one of the major constituents of cigarette smoke.

Although many smokers may feel socially excluded by the ever increasing number of smoke-free restaurants, airplanes, workplaces and public areas, biomedical science has not abandoned them. Researchers have been successful not only in establishing an irrefutable link between cigarette smoking and many health hazards, but have also made major progress in identifying the mechanisms by which cigarette smoking exerts its harmful action. Only when you have recognized your enemy and identified his weaponry, can you devise effective means of protection.

This is exactly what is going on in biomedical science. The identification of harmful free radicals in cigarette smoke and in the lungs and blood stream of smokers has been a major advancement and has helped our understanding of how cigarette smoke causes damage to lungs and blood vessels leading to cancer. Indeed, one single puff of a cigarette contains one hundred trillion (100,000,000,000,000) free radicals, most which are inhaled into the lungs and find there way into the blood stream.

Yet, our bodies are not without effective means of protection against these free radicals. Antioxidants constantly fight and neutralize free radicals which are both generated in our organism during the normal wear and tear of body functions, and are also inflicted upon us in the form of food, sun beams, automobile exhaust fumes and other environmental pollutants, and - last but not least - cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, cigarette smoking additionally reduces antioxidant blood and tissue levels substantially, leaving smokers more vulnerable to the harmful action of free radicals.

And this is where this SMOKERS GUIDE TO VITAMINS AND HEALTH comes in: the most powerful antioxidants which we can use to boost our antioxidant defense system are also easily available in dietary vitamins and minerals, and even in green tea. We just need to know about them. Science has provided us with valuable clues, linking diets low in antioxidants with disease and diets rich in antioxidants with health. These findings are particularly important for the smoker.

Alistair Moodie has undertaken a major project in sifting through the scientific literature for these clues and has presented them to the public in a clear and understandable manner. The time is right for this book. Antioxidant diets and dietary supplements are safe, cheap, and available, and their impact on human health is impressive.

May this book find its way into the hands and minds of all those who know about the health risk they face by cigarette smoking, who have been unsuccessful in forsaking the highly addictive habit, but who can now actively do something to reduce their risk.

 

Harinder S Garewal MD, PhD, Assistant Director, Cancer Prevention & Control Program, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, AZ.
A well-researched, easy to read, current manuscript addressing a rapidly evolving field. Smokers should discontinue smoking! Hardly anyone, smoker or non-smoker, will argue otherwise. Nevertheless, for many, this is easier said than done. Nutritional factors have a role in disease occurrence and prevention! Another statement few will disagree with. Many studies have suggested that smokers not only often have poorer dietary habits, but also metabolize nutrients differently and require increased intakes of "good" nutrients to maintain blood and tissue levels comparable with non-smokers.

Moodie has succinctly put together the findings of numerous studies and has done an admirable job of presenting this information in a balanced manner. Stop smoking and pay attention to nutrition (whether you stop smoking or not) is sound advice for disease prevention and health promotion. That smoking tobacco affects nutritional needs, and how one handles nutrients, is the take home message for smokers who just can't quit. As in any endeavor of this nature, there will be controversies surrounding one specific recommendation or the other.

Furthermore, the field continues to evolve as more is learned with each new completed study. In this environment of active, ongoing modulation of the state of knowledge, this book constitutes a valuable resource for smokers as they continue their attempts to stop smoking.

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