— Physicians who want help quitting cigarettes should look no further than the National Institutes of Health.
They can learn from Dr. Paul Kuehn, a professor of neurology at the University of Illinois Medical Center.
Kuehn is working to reduce the number of people who die from smoking-related illnesses and disease.
His latest study, released Tuesday, finds that patients with the disorder are significantly more likely to die from their first cigarette than their second or third.
In his new study, Kuehl and his colleagues compared the odds of a patient dying from smoking within six months of their first exposure to a cigarette with the odds they would die from a cigarette within seven months of that first exposure.
The researchers compared patients who had smoked for more than five years to patients who didn’t smoke.
“We found that the risk of dying from the first cigarette is much higher than the risk in the first month of the first exposure,” Kuehns said.
“The risk of death was significantly higher than that in the months after the first smoking exposure.”
The study, which included 6,726 patients with nicotine dependence, found that people who smoked for two years or more were more likely than those who didn`t smoke to die within six to seven months.
Of those who died from their second exposure, the risk was 30 times higher than those in the initial six-month period.
Among the patients who died of their third cigarette, the rate was 33 times higher.
Researchers are still studying the data to see whether the same pattern holds for people with lung cancer.
It is possible that some of the risk might be related to other risk factors, such as lung cancer or certain medications, they said.