DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Doctors might not like to answer my question. Are there ill effects from quitting smoking? After 50 years of smoking a pack and a half a day, I quit. Since then I have experienced an irregular heartbeat and other minor ailments. I had been in excellent health prior to quitting. What are the bad effects of stopping? – M.R.

The good effects of stopping cigarettes so outweigh the bad effects that there is no argument for continuing to smoke.

Nicotine is addictive. Addiction implies withdrawal symptoms when the addicting substance is no longer used. An addicting substance effects changes in the brain and in the production of brain chemicals. The body has to adjust by rewiring the brain. During the withdrawal phase, people become irritable and anxious. They gain weight. They might suffer from headaches, fatigue and insomnia. Some quitters have no symptoms. Most have some. Those symptoms do go away.

I’m not sure about the irregular heartbeat. You should see a doctor about that. If it’s nothing more than a few extra beats, it’s not a serious concern.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In years past, we received dire warnings about the dangers from leaking microwave ovens. I never hear any warnings anymore. Have we learned there is no danger after all? – M.L.

Since 1971, safety standards developed and enforced by the Food and Drug Administration require that all microwave ovens have an automatic shut-off device if any microwaves are leaking out of the oven.

In addition, modern pacemakers are shielded against microwave interference.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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