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Break your smoking habit with fruits and veggies

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
smoking cessation, fruits and vegetables, healthy lifestyle, success

Many smokers have a strong desire to quit the habit; however, despite a concerted event, they fail to do so. According to a new study, a diet high in fruits and vegetables may assist them in that goal. The results were published online on May 21 in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research by scientists affiliated with the University of Buffalo (Buffalo, New York).

The study authors noted that cross-sectional studies consistently report that cigarette smokers consume fewer fruits and vegetables daily than nonsmokers. They noted that the literature does not contain any cohort studies on this relationship. (A cohort study is an analytical study in which a group having one or more similar characteristics (i.e., smoking) is closely monitored over time simultaneously with another group (whose member do not smoke)). Therefore, they designed a study to evaluate the longitudinal relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) and cigarette smoking, including measures of dependence and abstinence in a national population-based cohort analysis.

The study group was comprised of 1,000 randomly-selected smokers (aged 25 years and older). The subjects were assessed at baseline in regard to FVC as well as indicators of general health orientation. The researchers analyzed whether baseline FVC was associated with smoking intensity, time to first cigarette (TTFC), and total score on an abbreviated version of the Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale (NDSS). The data were adjusted in regard to age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, and household income. Furthermore, the study assessed whether baseline FVC predicted 30-day abstinence from all tobacco products at 14-month follow-up among baseline cigarette smokers; the data were additionally adjusted for indicators of general health orientation (i.e., heavy drinking, exercise, and illicit drug use).

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The researchers found that higher FVC was associated with fewer cigarettes smoked per day, longer TTFC, and a lower NDSS score. In addition, subjects in the highest quartile of FVC were 3.05 times more likely than those in the lowest quartile to be abstinent for at least 30 days at follow-up.

The authors concluded that, among baseline smokers, fruit and vegetable consumption was inversely associated with indicators of nicotine dependence and predicted abstinence at follow-up. They added that further observational studies and experimental research would provide useful information on the consistency of the relationship and help clarify possible mechanisms.

Take home message:
This study provides information that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may aid smokers in breaking the habit. This is a win-win situation. Fruits and vegetables are a component of a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle. For some smokers, adding a high fruit and vegetable diet to their smoking cessation program might result in successfully attaining their goal.

Reference: Nicotine and Tobacco Research