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Quitting smoking is gift that keeps giving
An unbeatable Mother's Day gift: Quit smoking

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Date published: 5/9/2010

BY JANET MARSHALL

If you want to give your mom a great Mother's Day gift, quit smoking if you smoke and help her quit if she does. (If no one in your family smokes, pat yourselves on the back--you've greatly increased your odds of living a life free of heart and lung disease and cancer.)

Moms who smoke are more likely to end up with children who smoke, according to the American Lung Association. And they are more likely to end up suffering multiple, sometimes lethal, health problems.

"Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body," the National Cancer Institute says on its website.

Here's a primer on five ailments that commonly afflict women--including several directly linked to smoking--with tips for preventing and managing the conditions.

ARTHRITIS

More than any other condition, arthritis keeps women from doing what they want to do. It's the leading cause of disability among women; an estimated 41 million women experience arthritis pain and stiffness.

Doctors encourage sufferers to exercise because movement minimizes symptoms. But it can be hard to work out when you're in pain. Many sufferers find that gentle yet effective pool exercises--such as water aerobics--help them stay active without putting more pressure on their joints.

Interestingly, exercise not only makes arthritis more manageable, but it also can prevent the disease from taking hold, the Arthritis Foundation says.

You don't have to take up triathlons to reap the benefits of exercise. Brisk walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi and some weight lifting are all good ways to minimize arthritis pain.

HEART DISEASE

This is the leading cause of death among women, and by now, women (and men) should know how to reduce their odds of getting it. For starters, don't smoke.

"People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers," the National Cancer Institute says on its website.

It's also important to eat a vegetable-rich diet and exercise at least a couple of hours a week. Many cardiologists--including Dr. Robert Vranian of Fredericksburg--recommend the Mediterranean diet for its heart-healthy benefits.

Of course, you can't do anything about your genes, so if you have a family history of heart disease, and especially if you have symptoms such as shortness of breath, get checked out.


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ARTHRITIS

HEART DISEASE

COPD

CANCER

BACK PAIN