Today’s Headlines: How to Successfully Quit Smoking, the Benefits of Mindful Eating, and How Smartphones Deal With Health Problems

If you want to quit smoking, the best way is to cut cigarettes out completely. A new study has shown that quitting “cold turkey” instead of quitting gradually is the best way to make sure you are successful. “Volunteers who used this approach [“cold turkey”] were 25% more likely to remain abstinent half a year from the date that they give up than smokers who tried to gradually wean themselves off instead. After six months, 15.5% of the participants in the gradual-cessation group were abstinent compared with 22% in the abrupt-cessation group.” The consensus remains, however, that cutting down on cigarettes in general is more beneficial to your overall health if you can’t seem to quit all at once. (BBC)

Eating mindfully could help your heart. In a small study, researchers found that those who were taught and practiced mindful eating skills were much healthier overall. “People in the mindfulness group lost an average of 3.7 pounds more than people in the control group. That effect wasn’t statistically significantly different from those in the control group. But when they looked at certain risk factors for type-2 diabetes and heart disease—including fasting glucose levels a year after the program ended and triglyceride levels a year after the program began—they did find a significant difference. Those improvements were likely due to lower stress, weight loss or better food choices, the authors speculate.” Mindful eating is the practice of recognizing and separating emotions from hunger so you can understand when you’re really hungry and eat only the amount your body needs. (Time)

Smartphones may not be so smart when it comes to dealing with serious health situations. ​Researchers wanted to know how conversation programs on smartphones, like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, handled topics like depression, domestic abuse, and rape. “Overall, the programs fared worse on the violence issues. Most did not recognize rape as an issue requiring attention…Only one, Cortana, provided the number for the National Sexual Abuse Hotline after a web search. The programs did better on the mental health and physical health issues. Siri not only provided referrals to suicide and mental health help lines but also…responded with, “You may want to speak to someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline” and offered to dial the number after providing it.” Overall, researchers found that all smartphone software needs more programming to recognize and support potentially life-threatening issues. (Time)