The Great American Smokeout: Quit Now, Live Longer.
The American Cancer Society has named every third Thursday in November “The Great American Smokeout.” This year, the smokeout falls on Nov. 20.
The Great American Smokeout encourages Americans to stop smoking for the day, stop smoking altogether, or plan how they will quit smoking in the pursuit of a healthier life.
According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the country. Today, 42 million Americans smoke cigarettes and millions more smoke cigars or use pipes.
Nictotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco, is just as addicting as heroin or cocaine says the American Cancer Society. Smokers become physically and mentally addicted tobacco and have to fight both forms of addiction. It’s so strong that withdrawing from nicotine can lead to (temporary) dizziness, depression, anxiety, and irritability among other side effects.
Yet there’s a lot of good news.
Health benefits start immediately upon quitting.
In as little as two weeks, circulation and lung functions improve. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 10 years after quitting smoking, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half. Click here for more information on how your health improves after quitting smoking.
While everyone agrees on the many benefits that result from quitting, it’s easier said than done. As the old joke goes, “Quitting is easy. I’ve done it a hundred times!”
But there are many ways and resources to help smokers quit.
(1) Nicotine-replacement therapy, or NRTs, are often helpful in combatting physical dependence on nicotine. NRTs provide nicotine in the form of gums, patches, sprays, or lozenges.
(2) Prescription drugs can also help you quit. Two of the most common are Chantix and Zyban. See your doctor for more information.
(3) Every state has a free hotline that connects smokers with trained counselors to develop a plan to quit smoking. Ohio’s Quit Smoking Hotline can be found here.
(4) Click here for the American Cancer Society’s extensive guide on quitting smoking.
(5) Don’t forget your doctor. He or she has access to lots of good information and resources, as well as plans for helping you be successful.
Everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer. But did you know…
According to the CDC, it’s also linked to a higher risk of cancers of the lung, mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, bladder, kidney, pancreas, colon, rectum, cervix, stomach, blood and bone marrow?
In addition to causing many cancers, smoking is linked to heart and lung disease. It causes a host of other lung ailments, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Smokers are twice as likely to die of a heart attack than non-smokers.
According to the CDC, 90 percent of lung cancers are attributable to smoking, making cigarette smoking the number one cause of lung cancer. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk for lung cancer. Quitting at any age lowers the risk of developing lung cancer. So, at the very least, do your friends and family a favor and don’t smoke around them even if they’re okay with it.
Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 224,210 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed, and 159,260 people will die from the disease, this year.
As with most cancers, the sooner lung cancer is diagnosed the better. Those diagnosed with late-stage disease are more likely to succumb to the illness. Only 15 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage.
Many patients don’t show symptoms until late stages of the disease and symptoms vary. Some common symptoms include coughing that doesn’t go away, shortness of breath, chest pain, and wheezing.
There are three groups of lung cancer.
Each type of cancer is treated differently and has a different prognosis.
About 85 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell cancer. And about 10-15 percent of lung cancers are small-cell cancer (which tends to spread more quickly than non-small cell cancer). The third type are lung carcinoid tumors. These slow-growing, rarely spreading tumors that account for about five percent of lung cancers.
Surgery, chemo, radiation, and targeted therapy are all used to treat lung cancer, depending on its stage and type.
What is it about smoking that causes or increases your risk for cancer?
The CDC reports that there are 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke and 70 of those are proven cancer-causing agents. These chemicals weaken the immune system and make it harder for the body to fight cancer.
These same carcinogens can literally change a cell’s DNA, which can lead to the cell growing uncontrollably, often resulting in a cancerous tumor.
Tobacco also contains radioactive materials. Smoking releases some of these radioactive materials, which studies show may be another way smoking causes cancer.
The first step is the hardest.
Smoking is more than just a bad habit, it’s an addiction. But as we’ve said, there are many resources available for smokers who want to quit, some of which we’ve included in this article.
Regardless, you have to understand these four simple steps in order to quit for good: (1) make the decision, (2) set the date, (3) deal with withdrawal, and (4) stay tobacco-free.
For many, the Great American Smokeout is the encouragement needed to take those first steps.