The threat of cancer is one of many reasons to quit using tobacco.
From the Surgeon General to your own physician, you’ve heard medical advice to quit smoking or, better yet, to never start. The same goes for using smokeless tobacco products.
Whether you’re a smoker, a tobacco chewer, or you’re breathing someone else’s smoke, any exposure to tobacco is harmful, and the effects are immediate. Poisons in tobacco can reach all parts of your body, causing DNA damage, which can lead to cancer.
The longer you use these products, the more damage can be done.
Quitting is made harder because the nicotine in these products is an addictive drug.
Yes, nonsmokers are victims of cancer. But don’t fool yourself into false logic that says, “Why quit smoking if I could get cancer anyway?”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three cancer deaths in America is from smoking. Here’s why:
- Continuing to smoke weakens your body’s cancer-fighting systems.
- Smoking can interfere with your cancer treatment.
- Cancer patients and survivors who continue to smoke are more likely to die from their original cancer, a secondary cancer, or other causes compared with cancer patients and survivors who have quit smoking or who have never smoked.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cites these benefits from quitting.
- In the first day the carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal.
- In the first month your lung function begins to improve.
- In the first year your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
- In the first five years your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, or esophagus is half that of a smoker’s risk.
- In the first 10 years your risk of dying from lung cancer or bladder cancer is half that of a smoker’s risk.
The American Lung Association offers these tips for quitting.
- Focus on your motivators and build confidence.
Ask yourself: “What can I do to increase my motivation when feeling defeated or low?”
It’s important to be confident in your attempt to quit. Your confidence can increase when you accomplish a series of small goals.
- Manage your stress.
Many will use smoking to manage their stress. While it may prove challenging, you can find other, healthier ways to manage feelings of distress and other negative emotions.
- There’s help to quit smoking.
It’s never too late to quit.
Your body will benefit immediately when you stop smoking. You also may find it enhances the overall quality of your life.
- Think about what has worked and not worked in the past.
For some, quitting is a series of attempts. You can learn from those previous tries and focus on repeating things that worked and take a different approach to things that didn't work.
- Get buy-in from friends and family.
Just telling others in your life that you intend to quit can encourage their support and help you through the process. Support groups or friends who also are trying to quit can give you strength in numbers.
- Choose what works for you from safe and effective medications.
Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
Medications in the form of patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Think of these medications as part of the answer and combine them with the above strategies.