Does smoking affect the immune system?


Question from qamuSHA: Does smoking affect the immune system, although some use it to alleviate stress?
Answers - Marisa Weiss, M.D. Reducing stress is about the only thing that smoking is good for, but the problem is (as you all well know) that smoking decreases the readiness of many of your body's organs to deal with physical and emotional challenges. Smoking, for example, does decrease the health of blood vessels. Immune cells spend much of their lives circulating in those blood vessels. We know that, as an example, if you injure yourself or cut yourself and you are also a smoker, your body's ability to heal that area with your immune cells and your other blood cells is reduced. Healing takes longer and may be less complete in someone who is a smoker. It is important to try to find other ways to reduce the stress in your life besides cigarettes.
Mitch Golant I think perhaps the heart of the question is really what it means to be addicted to tobacco, and the stress of needing to smoke. What we are talking about then is, in a very deep way, the challenge to many smokers and to many women in terms of all of the information now available about tobacco and the need for alternative treatments. There are some interesting research issues about stopping smoking through treatment of support groups, anti-depressants, etc.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. I think that any time we change our lives there is a potential to experience stress and if you are someone who is smoking for much of your life, giving it up can be very difficult.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2001, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Stress and Your Immune System. Mitch Golant, Ph.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions on how stress affects your treatment, and what you can do to boost your immune system.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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