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Quitting smoking can improve mental health

Researchers at Washington University have found a strong link between quitting smoking and improved mental health.

Health professionals who treat people with psychiatric problems often overlook their patients’ smoking habits, assuming it’s best to tackle depression, anxiety or substance abuse problems first.

However, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed that people who struggle with mood problems or addiction can safely quit smoking and that kicking the habit is associated with improved mental health
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“Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary,” lead investigator Patricia A Cavazos-Rehg, PhD, said. “The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment,” she said.
But in the study, Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry, found that quitting or significantly cutting back on cigarette smoking was linked to improved mental health outcomes.

Quitting or reducing by half the number of cigarettes smoked daily was associated with lower risk for mood disorders like depression, as well as a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug problems.

Role of age in happiness revealed

Researchers are exploring the role of age on the happiness that people receive from both the ordinary and the extraordinary experiences in our lives.

Authors Amit Bhattacharjee (Dartmouth College) and Cassie Mogilner (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), said that they examine how age—and the perceived amount of time left in life - impacts the happiness people enjoy from both extraordinary and ordinary life experiences.

Across a series of eight studies, the authors asked participants to recall, plan, or imagine happy experiences in an attempt to draw a distinction between experiences that are ordinary (common and frequent) versus extraordinary (uncommon and infrequent). The researchers were specifically interested in testing their theory that younger people will associate extraordinary experiences with greater happiness than ordinary experiences.

In one study, over 200 participants from across the United States and between the ages of 18 and 79 were asked to recall a recent extraordinary experience that made them happy.

The researchers assigned the responses into 12 broad categories including spending time with others, life milestones, and travel. While responses from all age groups reported happiness in extraordinary experiences, study results indicated that happiness from ordinary experiences was more common in the older age demographic.

Moderate weight loss can help prevent and cure OSA

A new study suggests that even a moderate weight reduction can prevent the progression of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and even cure it.

The study focused on the effects of weight loss on OSA and demonstrated, for the first time, that a sustained weight loss of just 5 percent was enough to prevent the disease from worsening and even cure it in a long-term follow-up.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) has become a major burden for our health care systems over the last years. Although it is one of the most increasingly prevalent non-communicable diseases, the vast majority of people with OSA still remain undiagnosed. OSA has also been found to be tightly linked with metabolic abnormalities, particularly type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular morbidity.

OSA is a chronic, progressive disease, and it is well-documented that moderate to severe forms of OSA are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Obesity is the most important risk factor for OSA.
Based on current knowledge about the evolution of OSA, weight gain represents a high risk for the further progression of the disease towards the more severe forms, particularly in patients who already have a partial obstruction of their upper airways associated with mild OSA.

This study provides first time long-term evidence that even a modest weight reduction can result in marked improvements of OSA and
metabolism in overweight patients.

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