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Want to stop smoking for good? CDC launches new campaign with free resources to quit

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Want to stop smoking for good? CDC launches new campaign with free resources to quit

The CDC is not taking any more butts when it comes to smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched the 2024 version of its federally funded national tobacco education campaign to help more people quit smoking — with a special aim at menthol cigarettes.

“The CDC’s Tips campaign is designed to increase smoking cessation awareness and intervention in populations with high smoking rates and poorer health outcomes, including those living with mental illness,” Dr. Lama Bazzi, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City, told Fox News Digital.  

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“[The program] relies on testimonials given by people from the target communities, making the content relatable and increasing the utilization of the free resources the campaign makes available,” added Bazzi, who is not associated with the CDC.

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The CDC’s campaign, which first launched in 2012, features stories and tips from former smokers who kicked a really bad habit.  

The CDC has launched the 2024 version of its federally funded national tobacco education campaign to help more people quit smoking. (iStock)

The dangers of smoking

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the U.S., the CDC noted in a recent press release.

“Addictive drugs alter mood and are often compulsively taken despite the illness they cause,” Lori Karan, M.D., professor of internal medicine and preventive medicine at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, told Fox News Digital.

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“Nicotine is psychoactive in that it can be stimulating, relaxing, pleasurable and helpful [in reducing] stress and anxiety — especially when it counteracts its own withdrawal,” added Karan, who is a national expert in addiction medicine.

It is not nicotine but rather the chemicals in tobacco that cause cancer, heart disease and lung disease, she said.

Quit smoking

The CDC’s campaign, which originated in 2012, features stories and tips from former smokers who kicked the habit.   (iStock)

Menthol cigarettes carry a higher health risk than regular cigarettes, according to the CDC.

Menthol is a chemical found naturally in plants, like peppermint — but it can also be produced in a lab.

Almost all cigarettes sold in the U.S. contain some degree of menthol, but cigarettes specifically marketed as “menthol” usually have more of the chemical in them.

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“Menthol is an anesthetic,” Karan said. “The cooling sensation makes it easier to inhale more deeply.”

Due to the way menthol interacts with and enhances nicotine, people who use menthol cigarettes are more likely to accumulate toxins in the furthest part of their lungs, the doctor warned.

Menthol smokers are also more likely to continue smoking, she said, which puts them at a greater risk of developing tobacco-related diseases. 

Menthol cigarettes

Menthol smokers are more likely to continue smoking, an expert said, which puts them at a greater risk of developing tobacco-related diseases.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

It can be more difficult for people who smoke menthol cigarettes to quit successfully compared to people who smoke non-menthol cigarettes, the CDC noted in the press release.

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In 2021, sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes reached 37% of all cigarette sales in the U.S. — the highest share recorded since 1963, according to the CDC website.

Real stories of former smokers

In the new batch of stories, the CDC is highlighting Ethan B., 59, who started smoking cigarettes at age 10 and later started smoking menthol cigarettes when he joined the Army at age 18.

“I wanted to look cool and be cool,” he told the CDC. “All the billboards said it was cool.”

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the U.S. 

Since quitting in 2020, Ethan B. said he has come to realize that the tobacco ads that appealed to him while he was growing up were misleading. (The CDC did not share the participants’ last names.)

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The CDC also featured Elizabeth B., 62, who started smoking menthol cigarettes at age 18. 

She was later diagnosed with smoking-related peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Woman vaping

It often takes several attempts and the right combination of medication, nicotine replacement therapy and counseling to permanently succeed at quitting, an expert said. (iStock)

(PAD is when the arteries that supply blood flow to the legs get blocked, so people have difficulty walking without pain or cramping.)

“If I had never smoked that first cigarette, I may not have lit the fuse for PAD,” she told the CDC. “My goal is to help other young people to never start smoking.”

Tips to kick the habit 

The CDC recommends developing a personal plan to quit. The first step is to choose a quit date.

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By the time the date arrives, make sure all cigarettes — including lighters, matches and ashtrays — are removed from the home, car and work areas, the agency says.

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It’s also important to be aware of common triggers that will tempt people to light up a cigarette. 

“During the first few weeks of quitting, try to avoid situations where you will be tempted to smoke and where cigarettes are available,” the CDC advises on its website.

This may require that people avoid friends or co-workers when they smoke.

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People should also find ways to distract themselves when they get the urge to light up.

Tobacco smoke

It’s important to be aware of common triggers that will tempt you to light up a cigarette, the CDC said. (iStock)

The agency recommends making a list of activities that might work for you — in lieu of smoking — before quitting.

Some examples might be listening to your favorite music, going for a walk, playing a video game or simply watching a video on your phone that makes you laugh.

When you do get the urge to light a cigarette, one idea is to find a substitute, like toothpicks, straws or cinnamon sticks, that will keep your mouth and hands busy.

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Quitting is not easy and there will be times when people will have a craving for a cigarette, the agency noted.

The urge will disappear within minutes for most individuals and will grow weaker over time, the CDC says. 

Medications to help people quit

For some, medications can be helpful in reducing the compulsion to smoke.

“Individuals trying to quit should speak to their health care provider about medications that can help them quit,” Bazzi said. “Do not give up.”

It often takes several attempts and the right combination of medication, nicotine replacement therapy and counseling to succeed permanently at quitting, she said.

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Woman walking

The CDC recommends making a list of activities that might work for you, in lieu of smoking, such as going for a refreshing walk outside. (iStock)

One example is John B., 61, one of the CDC’s featured quitters. He smoked his first cigarette at age 8.

He tried different ways of quitting, including acupuncture, hypnosis and going “cold turkey” — but could never go one full day without smoking.

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Then he found a doctor who could relate to his struggles. The physician had quit smoking himself.

The doctor prescribed two smoking cessation medicines, including a nicotine inhaler, and recommended counseling. 

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At age 38, John B. was finally able to quit for good.

doctor with patient

“Individuals trying to quit should speak to their health care provider about medications that can help them quit,” a doctor said. (iStock)

A combination of medicines is often most effective, according to the CDC.

The most common combination is wearing a nicotine patch, which delivers a steady level of nicotine to the body, along with either the nicotine lozenge or gum for fast-acting relief during cravings.

People can also call the free hotline 1-800-QUIT-NOW to speak confidentially with a quit coach without any judgment.

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Fox News Digital reached out to the CDC for additional comment on the Tips campaign. 

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

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Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

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Could adopting a fasting-like diet help slow down aging?

That’s the claim of researchers from the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles, who led a study on the benefits of a “fasting-mimicking diet” (FMD).

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In addition to reducing biological age and immune system aging, the diet was linked to reductions in insulin resistance and liver fat, according to a press release from the university.

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The findings, published in Nature Communications on Feb. 20, were based on clinical trials that included 100 men and women between 18 and 70 years old.

Half of the group was randomly assigned to the FMD, adhering to the diet for five days followed by 25 days of normal eating for three or four cycles.

A fasting-mimicking diet was found to reduce biological age and immune system aging, as well as insulin resistance and liver fat, in a new study. (iStock)

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The control group ate either a normal diet or a Mediterranean-style diet.

The people in the FMD group showed decreased abdominal and liver fat, as well as reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

HIDDEN BELLY FAT COULD SIGNAL ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE RISK 15 YEARS BEFORE SYMPTOMS SHOW UP, STUDY FINDS

Those on the experimental diet also showed signs of a more youthful immune system.

Overall, the FMD adopters’ biological age was reduced by an average of 2.5 years based on the functioning of their cells and tissues, the researchers found.

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Drinking tea

In the USC study, the fasting-mimicking diet included energy bars, plant-based soups, chip snacks, energy drinks and tea. (iStock)

“I think it is surprising that three cycles of the FMD done for only five days a month (15 days total) — which allow people to have modified/low calorie but regular meals and without changing the normal diet of the participants for the rest of the month — can have such an effect on biological age, body fat and a range of disease risk factors,” senior author Valter Longo, USC Leonard Davis School Professor, told Fox News Digital.

FASTING COULD REDUCE SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, STUDIES SUGGEST: ‘PROFOUND EFFECTS’

If the cycles were continued for three cycles a year for 20 years, Longo projected that the FMD could reduce biological age by 11 years and reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 10% to 30%. 

“However, these are only simulations — and additional studies are necessary to confirm this potential of the FMD cycles,” he added.

Energy drinks

Half of the group was randomly assigned to the FMD, adhering to the diet for five days followed by 25 days of normal eating for three or four cycles. (iStock)

Prior studies in mice have identified additional benefits of the FMD, including reduced risk of age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, Vongo pointed out.

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The diet has been previously to reduced chemo side effects, greater stem cell regeneration and reduced signs of dementia, the release stated.

What is the fasting-mimicking diet?

Originally developed by Longo, the FMD is a five-day diet that is low in overall calories, protein and carbohydrates and high in unsaturated fat.

The eating plan is designed to mimic a pure fast while still allowing consumption of essential nutrients.

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“The fasting-mimicking diet (FMD), also known as the ProLon Diet, has been around for approximately seven years and has been studied in multiple clinical trials,” Erin Palinski-Wade, a New Jersey-based registered dietitian, told Fox News Digital.

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“By following a structured, very low-calorie nutrition plan for five days, the goal is to provide the benefits of a prolonged fast while still allowing individuals to eat,” said Palinski-Wade, who was not involved in the USC study.

“The diet is designed to transition the body into a fasting state while nourishing it with specific nutrients to avoid activating food-sensing pathways.”

Woman reaches for water glass near bed

“[The diet] allows for physical, biological and epigenetic benefits without the need for prolonged water-only fasts,” an expert said.  (iStock)

In the USC study, the fasting-mimicking diet included energy bars, plant-based soups, chip snacks, energy drinks and tea, according to the release. 

The FMD group also received a supplement with “high levels of minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids.”

The specific diet that was tested in the two trials is commercially available, but Longo said that university rules prevent him from sharing the name of the product.

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“In an era obsessed with superficial youth and quick fixes, the fasting-mimicking diet offers a tangible method to systematically reverse aging and enhance metabolic health.”

“I think it is important to begin to consider the plant-based FMD intervention described here for two to three times a year as a way to prevent and treat some diseases, together with the right type of drugs,” Longo said. 

This could aid in “returning to full health and living longer and healthier, rather than continuing to take progressively more drugs as we age,” he added.

For people aiming to prevent or treat diseases through the use of an FMD, Longo said people should first talk to a doctor.

Other experts weigh in on the diet

Melanie Avalon, an Atlanta-based health influencer who hosts “The Intermittent Fasting Podcast,” was not involved in the study, but noted that the research provides “solid data” on how dietary and lifestyle changes affect the aging process.

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“Our society’s fascination with youth and longevity is well-known; however, measuring progress and biological improvements is often subjective,” she told Fox News Digital. 

Woman meal plan

While fasting is often pursued for its visible weight loss benefits, an expert noted that this study highlights its extended benefits for metabolic health. (iStock)

“The concept of ‘chronological age’ can mislead when assessing the body’s aging rate and predicting lifespan,” Avalon went on. 

“For the first time, this study reveals that a fasting-mimicking diet can reduce one’s biological age.”

While traditional fasting can be daunting for some, FMD can be a more feasible alternative.

“It allows for physical, biological and epigenetic benefits without the need for prolonged water-only fasts,” she said. 

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AVOID THESE FAD DIETS IN 2024; TRY THESE HEALTHY METHODS OF EATING INSTEAD

While fasting is often pursued for its visible weight loss benefits, Avalon noted that this study highlights FMD’s extended benefits for metabolic health.

“In an era obsessed with superficial youth and quick fixes, the fasting-mimicking diet offers a tangible method to systematically reverse aging and enhance metabolic health,” she said.

“Unlike the costly and extreme measures of ‘biohacking,’ the FMD provides an accessible and practical solution to reduce biological age.”

Potential risks and limitations

Tanya Freirich, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charlotte, North Carolina, who practices as The Lupus Dietitian, cautioned that she would not recommend the fasting-mimicking diet to any person who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past or who has trouble controlling their blood sugar.

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“Restricting and changing eating patterns may have negative effects,” she said. 

Woman eating healthy

The fasting-mimicking diet could aid in “returning to full health and living longer and healthier, rather than continuing to take progressively more drugs as we age,” the study author said. (iStock)

Palinski-Wade agreed that those with underlying health conditions should speak to their physician before considering a restrictive diet plan. 

“A very low-calorie diet may not be appropriate for those with uncontrolled diabetes, a history of hypoglycemia, a history of disordered eating, or those who are pregnant or nursing,” she said.

Before making any dietary changes, Freirich stressed the need for “extensive education” to be provided.

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“While changing the timing and amount of our food intake is an approach worth examining, it is also important to remember to choose health-promoting foods daily,” the dietitian continued. 

“The food choices we make daily have a large impact on our weight, blood sugars, heart health, immune system and more. If fasting doesn’t feel like the right choice for you, speaking with a registered dietitian about the dietary changes for your health is always recommended.”

Nutritionist

Before making any dietary changes, a nutritionist (not pictured) told Fox News Digital that people need “extensive education” to be provided. (iStock)

The study had some limitations, both dietitians noted.

“It was a small sample size of healthy young-ish individuals,” Freirich said. “The results may be helpful and useful for other people after more research is completed in a larger age range and including people with other medical concerns.”  

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Palinski-Wade reiterated that the studies on FMD have included smaller sample sizes of generally healthy adults, which means the results cannot be generalized to all populations.

“FMD may offer promising benefits and may be an excellent tool to consider for those looking to improve long-term health and reduce future disease risk, but more research is needed on larger and more diverse populations to fully understand the benefits it may offer,” she added.

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Kidney swap saves two lives, plus surprising COVID effects and IVF uncertainty

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Kidney swap saves two lives, plus surprising COVID effects and IVF uncertainty

‘SUPERBLY TIMED’ – Four Texas residents are forever connected by two kidney donations in different cities. The recipients, donors and doctors share their story. Continue reading…

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Senior women should aim for a mixture of aerobic and weight-lifting exercises on a regular basis, a doctor said. (iStock)

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Gerald Branim, 55, was a marathon runner when he got COVID, which led to a paralyzed diaphragm that stopped him in his tracks.  (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

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A decision from the Alabama Supreme Court has led to a halt in IVF services at some locations and a flurry of protests from providers in the fertility space. (iStock)

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Amid measles outbreaks, Florida Department of Health speaks out against ‘false information’

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Amid measles outbreaks, Florida Department of Health speaks out against ‘false information’

Amid ongoing measles outbreaks at Florida schools, the state’s Department of Health released an updated statement on Wednesday, which was provided to Fox News Digital.

There have been a total of nine confirmed measles cases as of Tuesday in Broward County, with seven of them reported at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, according to local reports.

Last week, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued a letter to parents urging them to make their own decisions about whether to send their children to school.

AMID FLORIDA MEASLES OUTBREAK, SURGEON GENERAL LETS PARENTS DECIDE WHETHER TO SEND UNVACCINATED KIDS TO SCHOOL

Typical guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is for unvaccinated children who have not had the measles to stay home for up to 21 days in the event of a potential exposure at school.

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Amid ongoing measles outbreaks at Florida schools, the state’s Department of Health has released an updated statement.  (iStock)

“However, due to the high immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and the educational cost of healthy children missing school, DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance,” Ladapo’s letter stated. 

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The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) noted that details of the agency’s investigations into the outbreak are “confidential,” and claimed that “many media outlets are reporting false information and politicizing this outbreak.”

FDOH released a statement to ensure that Floridians are “correctly informed.”

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Boy vaccination

Doctors have expressed their support of measles vaccinations and cautioned against sending unvaccinated kids to school during an outbreak. (iStock)

At Manatee Bay Elementary, where the bulk of the cases have been reported, 97% of students have received at least one dose of the MMR immunization, according to the agency.

On Tuesday, the local news outlet WSVN reported that about 30% of students at Manatee Bay Elementary were unvaccinated, according to the school board.

“Outbreaks are occurring in multiple states, and the national immunization rate for measles is less than 92%,” the statement said.

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When a case of measles is confirmed in a school, FDOH recommends that students who have not had a prior infection or vaccination remain at home for up to 21 days.

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“This is the period of time that the virus can be transmitted. This recommendation has been made at Manatee Bay Elementary,” the agency said.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo

Amid measles outbreaks in various parts of the U.S., Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo has issued guidance to parents regarding kids’ school attendance. He also said, “This recommendation may change as epidemiological investigations continue.” (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

The last confirmed case of measles was on Feb. 15, 2024, which means the end of the 21-day infectious period is March 7, 2024.

“This may change as epidemiological investigations continue,” the statement noted.

FDOH said it has been working with Manatee Bay Elementary to educate parents on measles.

“Any parent who is concerned for their child, regardless of their immunization status, may choose to keep their children home.”

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“Any parent who is concerned for their child, regardless of their immunization status, may choose to keep their children home and utilize continuous learning during this time,” the agency said.  

“Due to the high immunity rate, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, the surgeon general’s current guidance ensures that parents or guardians are able to make the best decisions for their families regarding school attendance,” the statement continued.

measles on a male torso

As of Tuesday, there have been a total of nine confirmed measles cases in Broward County, with seven of them reported at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, according to local reports. (iStock )

Other doctors have expressed their support of measles vaccinations and cautioned against sending unvaccinated kids to school during an outbreak.

“At a time when there’s a resurgence of measles in the world and travel is not restricted, and people are coming into this country with measles, it’s extremely important that our children be vaccinated against it,” Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, told Fox News Digital last week.

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Amid the current measles outbreak, he said, “individual choice has to give way to public health and community preservation or safety,” Siegel said.

“The problem here is that if kids start going to school unvaccinated against measles, given how contagious it is and how effective the vaccine is, they are putting other children at risk,” the doctor added.

In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, a member of the District 2 School Board in Broward County stated that the board is working with the state and local health departments. 

“I appreciate the leadership and support by the surgeon general and welcome all resources to help our parents and children,” says Torey Alston, who was formerly a county commissioner. 

“The safety and academic success of our children remains the No. 1 priority.”

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As of Feb. 22, 2024, a total of 35 measles cases had been reported by 15 jurisdictions across the U.S., in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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