People who smoke often say that it helps them to deal with stress but new research by scientists from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry suggests that, if anything, it makes the problem worse. The scientists studied 469 people who were trying to give up after being hospitalized for heart disease. After a year 41% of them had managed to give up smoking and these people experienced a 20% reduction in their stress levels compared to those who went back to smoking whose stress levels remained unchanged. The relationship between not smoking and less stress remained even after taking into account patients' age and education, how heavily they had smoked before giving up and how high their stress levels had been at the start of the study. Before giving up 85% of the participants said that smoking helped them to deal with stress to some extent but the researchers thought that this was because smoking helped people to deal with the pangs of nicotine withdrawal; once people had managed to give up smoking they no longer felt these pangs and their overall levels of stress fell.
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