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Hepatitis C and Smoking

Hepatitis C and Smoking

Cigarette smoking can harm the liver

Cigarette smoking isn’t just bad for lungs, heart, brain, skin – it is also bad for the liver. This is especially true if you have hepatitis C. Liver specialists generally recommend quitting smoking to their patients who have hepatitis C. Most studies show that people with hepatitis C who smoke have increased damage to the liver, such as inflammation, fibrosis, and fatty liver. Smoking also increases  risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer).

Today is the Great American Smokeout, a day set aside for smokers to rise to the huge challenge of 24 hours of abstinence from tobacco use. It’s tough. Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I ever did – harder than 48 weeks of hepatitis C treatment using peginterferon and ribavirin.

The secret to my success was that I had help. I joined an American Lung Association class and went to Nicotine Anonymous meetings. I met people who smoked more than I did, although at my peak I smoked two packs of Benson and Hedges 100’s daily. I met a chain smoker who only slept 20 minutes at a stretch because nicotine withdrawal woke her up. She even smoked in the shower. I figured that if she could do it, I could too.

My solution may not work for you. The American Cancer Association lists a variety of approaches that may fit your style. Perhaps you are a cold turkey quitter or a weaner. There are six styles, and your success depends on find what works best for you.  I hope you find your style, and with it, freedom from tobacco. Your liver, heart, lungs, and brains will thank you. So will your friends and loved ones.

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