We have all heard time and time again that smoking isn’t good for us. But, just to refresh our memories, here are a few selected statistics from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
According to the 2009/2010 Cancer Trends Progress Report published by the NCI, smoking causes approximately 30% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. In fact, eliminating tobacco use is the single most important step Americans can take to reduce the cancer burden in this country.
The study shows that adult cigarette smoking prevalence has been slowly declining since 1991, and smoking prevalence among adolescents has declined since the late 1990s. But despite these declines, a staggering one in five adults and adolescents is still a smoker.
Not only does cigarette smoking cause almost 90% of lung cancer deaths, it is also responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity, esophagus and bladder. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking also contributes to lung disease, heart disease, stroke, and the development of low birth weight babies.
Perhaps more frightening is that tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical agents, including over 60 substances that are known to cause cancer. And while second hand smoke still poses a risk to some Americans, substantial decreases in secondhand smoke exposure have been realized since the beginning of the 1990s. The decrease in second hand smoke is a result of a variety of measures. This includes biological measures, as well as work place policies, rules about smoking in the home and, more recently through state and local smoke-free indoor air legislation.
If you smoke, it’s not too late to change your life for the better. According to the Lung Association, there are benefits to quitting no matter when you choose to quit. The benefits of quitting begin almost immediately after your last cigarette. For example, 20 minutes after the last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate can drop to normal. Within two hours, the level of nicotine in your body can drop by half. After one smoke-free year, your risk of heart disease is reduced by half.
If you want to stop, there are many programs and suggested therapies for quitting smoking. The best method to use for quitting is the method that works for you. And, if one method doesn’t help, try another! Some methods include using a nicotine patch or chewing gum or herbal teas like valerian root and Echinacea. New stop-smoking medications are available, and some of the milder anti-depressant drugs are also helpful. Many people have been successful using alternative healing methods including acupuncture and acupressure, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, ayurveda, hydrotherapy, relaxation and meditation.
Many people try various techniques until they finally quit smoking for good. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it. Reduce your risk. Quit smoking and live a longer, healthier, and probably happier life.