Researchers develop virtual platform that measures level of addiction of smokers

In Mexico, 21.7 percent of the population smokes, which is associated with 95 percent of 
lung cancer cases and the development of 29 more different conditions.

Being the leading 
preventable cause of premature death and disabling diseases, a team of researchers from the Mexican Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) developed a virtual platform that measures the level of addiction of smokers, while suggesting some recommendations and providing necessary support to help them quit. 

This citizen science project titled "Are you smoking away?" is part of the venture "Science that 
Breathes" ( and is in charge of Maria Ines Vargas Rojas, Head of 
Research at the Laboratory of Inflammation and Immunoregulation at INER. 

"We make available a tool that leads to answer a series of questions about the perceptions 
that people have about smoking, whether the individual is a smoker or not.

If the people 
assumes themselves as smokers, they are asked to fill another questionnaire aimed at 
identifying the degree of nicotine addiction "refers Eryka Urdapilleta Herrera, head of the 
Program to Quit Smoking at the Research Department of INER, also part of this project.

In this regard, Inés Vargas adds that the platform is not only informative but also shows 
the individual their level of addiction after sending the questionnaire responses; as well 
as estimate the degree of anxiety and depression that may lead to smoke and provides 
recommendations to control the problem.

"At the same time, it allows us to get in touch with 
participants and generate more lines of research 

The existence of "Are you Smoking Away? " project is particularly important in the Mexican 
context, where smoking causes approximately 60,000 deaths per year, is the main cause of 90 percent of cases of bronchitis and more than 50 percent of cardiovascular disease.

"Smoking is a syndrome that causes inflammation throughout the body, not only in the 
breathing airways, which slowly and progressively produces a multisystem damage when 
done for prolonged periods, and favors the onset of various diseases; including hypertension, 
myocardial infarction, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and various types of cancer, especially in lungs," said Vargas Rojas.

She explains that after the first inhalation of cigarette smoke, nicotine provokes a stimulus 
capable of generating these substance receptors, which are formed not only in the brain but 
throughout the body.

Thus, these cells will always be waiting for the addictive substance.

"For this reason, the subject no longer has physical control of its addiction, making it hard to 
quit smoking.

Also a difficult emotional component is added, which is hard to break," says 
Urdapilleta Herrera adding that when nicotine enters the body it activates regions of the brain 
that regulates feelings of pleasure, that in the smoker act as a reward system to release certain neurotransmitters.

To make matters worse, cigarettes sold today can release more nicotine and include additives 
and chemicals that encourage addiction.

However, currently there are different treatments 
to combat nicotine addiction, both pharmacological and psychological.

"The INER has an 
Aiding Clinic to Stop Smoking, where cognitive behavioral therapy remains as the most useful 
mechanism to support patients," says Vargas Rojas.

Also, in the Laboratory of Inflammation and Immunoregulation, Vargas Rojas adds "We have a line of research associated with the genetic factor.

 Some subjects are expressing protective or risk genes, not only to develop lung disease, but also for the own addiction to nicotine, which explains why there are patients more difficult to control."

"However, we have a lot of methods and therapeutic support tools available at all times.

 It is possible to quit smoking and remain abstinent, which brings many health benefits; for 
example, lowering the risk of suffering a stroke, heart disease and various cancers," says 
Urdapilleta Herrera , who invites us to visit the website and be 
part of the project "Are You Smoking Away? ".


Mexican Institute of Respiratory Diseases



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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