Less smoking due to work stress?

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Do people smoke less when they are more stressed at work?

Scientists from the University of Cologne came to astonishing results on the basis of a study. People who suffer from a lot of stress at work would smoke less. In a study "Cologne Smoking Study", almost 200 heart and lung patients, some of them seriously ill, and a comparison group of test persons were interviewed. The results astonished the researchers: "The higher the occupational stress, the lower the nicotine dependence," summarizes Anna Schmidt from the University of Cologne. The result is astonishing, but leaves a lot of room for interpretation, says Schmidt.

The team around project leader Professor Dr. Jürgen Wolf, the spokesman for the Virtual Institute for Interdisciplinary Prevention Research in Medicine (VIIRPM), and his deputy Professor Dr. Holger Pfaff from the local Institute for Medical Sociology, Health Services Research and Rehabilitation Science (IMVR) has so far randomly examined almost 200 lung cancer and heart patients, some of whom are severely ill, and a control group. According to the faculty's website, the Cologne Smoking Study (CoSmoS) project is part of the overall “Psychosocial Analysis” project and is supported and funded by the Helmholtz Association. According to its own statements, the Helmholtz Association is the largest scientific organization in Germany with a total of 16 research centers and has an annual budget of three billion euros. In the study, which ran from fall 2004 to fall 2007, the researchers found that nicotine abuse decreases when work stress is high.

The smoking ban that has now been enforced in the workplace certainly plays a major role. It is not clear whether people would then smoke more at home in their free time. Further studies in the future should show whether biochemical processes in the organism or time issues play a role. The view of cancer sufferers is of course also very subjective, says graduate nurse Anna Schmidt, who also worked on the study.

On the other hand, "people no longer have the opportunity to smoke if one appointment rushes the other," says Schmidt. There would simply be no time to smoke a cigarette. However, the results of the scientific comparison sample should not be used to use stress as a panacea for smoking. Stress harbors numerous health risks for the human organism. Stress (distress) experienced negatively can, depending on its duration and intensity, lead to physical and psychological problems. In conclusion, it can be said that people with many appointments simply don't have enough time to smoke a lot. (sb, Thorsten Fischer, April 13, 2010)

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