While most people know that smoking increases the probability of developing lung cancer, the risks extend far beyond that. Cigarette smoking is harmful to every organ in the body. From bladder cancer to strokes, smoking is linked to one in five deaths in the United States. That adds up to more than 480,000 deaths each year.
In recognition of National Kick Butts Day on March 20, we shine the spotlight on smoking risks and how to kick the habit.
Health Conditions Linked to Smoking Cigarettes
What are the health risks associated with cigarette smoking? Here’s what experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say:
- Smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and 80 percent of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- People who smoke are at two to four times greater risk for heart disease and stroke than nonsmokers.
- Cigarette smoking increases cancer risk in nearly every area of the body: bladder, blood, colon, rectum, pancreas, liver, kidney, stomach, esophagus, trachea, and more.
- Smoking can decrease fertility in men and women and increase the risks for birth defects, preterm delivery, and miscarriages.
- Smokers are at higher risk for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- People who are cigarette smokers increase their risk for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
It’s easy to see why physicians say giving up smoking is one of the best steps you can take to improve your overall health and well-being.
If you’ve tried quitting before or if you think you are too old to quit, know that it’s worth trying again. You are never too old to reap the health rewards that come with quitting. We have a few ideas to help you kick the habit once and for all.
5 Ways to Stop Smoking
First, go into this with realistic expectations. Few smokers are able to go cold turkey and never smoke again. The longer you’ve been smoking, the more likely it is that this will be a longer process. Experts from the Mayo Clinic say the average smoker takes 8 to 12 weeks to completely quit smoking.
There are a variety of smoking cessation programs and products you can try if you are committed to quitting. Some are over-the-counter products and others require a prescription.
- Nicotine gum: This over-the-counter gum is designed to help wean smokers from their nicotine addiction. You start with a higher dosage that decreases over time.
- Nicotine patch: These patches deliver small doses of nicotine through the skin, helping to reduce nicotine cravings. Like the gum, you take increasingly smaller doses as time goes by and cravings decrease. Nicotine patches are available in nonprescription and prescription dosages.
- Clinical hypnosis: Some smokers have success quitting through hypnosis. They work with a hypnotherapist who may use several different methods to help a client stop smoking.
- Apps for support: The American Lung Association and Pfizer created an app to make it easier to stop smoking. Quitter's Circle supports followers on the journey, celebrating milestones and giving encouragement when they are struggling. Smokefree.gov also offers support, including an option to receive text messages with tips and encouragement.
- Prescription medications: Another option to help you stop smoking is utilizing a prescription medication. You may need to work with your physician to manage some common side effects.
If you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of kicking the habit, read “Why You Are Never Too Old to Benefit from a Smoking Cessation Program.”
Source: Sunrise Senior Living