THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Smokers are often asked to kick their dangerous addiction to nicotine in order to reduce their risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It’s no wonder: tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in Ontario and Canada and the most significant cause of cancer. Quitting tobacco is the best thing that tobacco users can do to protect the health of themselves and others. Typically, tobacco cessation messages are focused on long-term, chronic illnesses but there are many short-term health benefits of quitting smoking that are worth highlighting.
Even after inhaling more than 4,000 chemicals in just one cigarette, the amazing human body gets busy right away and begins to heal the damage. Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, blood pressure drops, pulse returns to normal, and temperature of the hands and feet stabilizes. After 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops. After 24 hours, your chance of having a heart attack decreases.
After 48 hours, lung capacity increases and breathing can become easier.
But why settle for short-term benefits when you can make incredible long-lasting change? Within a few months, successful quitters experience a better sense of taste and smell and increased lung function which makes breathing and walking easier. Research also demonstrates that risk of developing chronic disease decreases. In fact, just one year after quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease and the risk of suffering a smoking-related heart attack is 50 percent lower. After 10 years smoke-free, risk of dying from lung cancer is 50 percent lower, and after 15 years, the risk of dying from a heart attack is the same as someone who has never smoked.
If the long-term reward seems too far away, smokers can focus on the many health benefits that start almost immediately when they make the decision to quit smoking.
Those who are willing to quit should talk to their healthcare providers, who can help them to find the best way to quit. They can also call the toll-free Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or visit www.smokershelpline.ca for counseling, advice, tips, strategies, and links to more resources.
If you or someone you know is a smoker, help spread the word. It’s a good time to quit.
Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in women and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in men. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths, the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, and is responsible for 30 percent of all cancers. Tobacco use causes lung cancer, cancers of the oral cavity (e.g., larynx, pharynx and esophagus) and urinary tract (bladder and kidney), cervical cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia, as well as some cancers of the stomach and pancreas.
All forms of tobacco—smoking, chewing and second-hand tobacco smoke—can cause cancer. Tobacco use is also a major cause of death from other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and lung diseases. Second-hand smoke is also dangerous – has been classified as a Group A human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (www.cancercare.on.ca)