This Gross Habit Triples Your Risk for Back Pain
You know the dangers that come with smoking… You increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It also ages you faster. But a recent study out of Northwestern University reveals one of the most surprising health effects of this nasty habit…
Researchers examined 160 subjects with subacute back pain. It means they had been dealing with it for around 4–12 weeks. The team also looked at 32 people with chronic back pain. They had been experiencing their pain for at least five years. To round things out, they also included 35 subjects with no back pain.
These people completed five different surveys about their health over the next year. They also underwent MRIs to scan their brains. The goal was to look at the areas that regulate motivation and learning… And addictive behavior.
A strong connection between these areas—the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex—makes a person more susceptible to chronic pain.
And smokers had a very strong connection. It increased their risk of experiencing chronic back pain. Not by a few percentage points either. Researchers found that smokers are three times more likely to develop this pain than nonsmokers.1
That’s bad enough. But there’s something else to consider…
The team noted that smokers using NSAIDs and other drugs were able to reduce their back pain. The problem is that these medications don’t change the way your brain works. So you might get temporary relief. But you won’t be doing anything to help fix the real problem… Not to mention the other damage these drugs will do to your body.
There was only one way to help fix the problem…
Smokers can reduce their risk for—or help improve—chronic back pain by quitting. According to lead author, Bogdan Petre, “We saw a dramatic drop in this circuit’s activity in smokers who—of their own will—quit smoking during the study . . . So when they stopped smoking, their vulnerability to chronic pain also decreased.”2
Giving up smoking might seem impossible … But there are effective, natural ways to do it. Cutting back caffeine and ramping up exercise is a good place to start. Switching to organic fruits and vegetables can also help make you three times more likely to quit.3