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Is you neighbor a health benefit or health risk?

Conquest - Spring 2013

Support to quit smoking might be right next door

By Katrina Burton

Living in a safe place with a stellar school district and easy access to work are not the only factors to consider when choosing a neighborhood. According to a study led by Lorraine Reitzel, Ph.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Health Disparities Research, stronger bonds with neighbors led to more successful outcomes among African-American smokers trying to quit.

Lorraine Reitzel, Ph.D.

Published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, the study followed 397 black smokers attempting to quit to determine if social cohesion — the trust and connectedness between neighbors — was linked to smoking abstinence through psychosocial factors. Results indicated that stronger bonds with neighbors had beneficial effects on social support, emotions and stress, which increased the likelihood of smoking cessation.

“More than 45,000 African-Americans die in the United States from smoking-related cancers annually,” Reitzel says. “It’s important for us to examine these types of relationships to develop interventions that will help smokers successfully quit.”

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