Lung Cancer and Smoking – Break the Habit
You have likely heard it before that cigarette smoking puts you at very high risk of developing lung cancer. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke will cause abnormal changes in your lungs and can cause a cancerous tumor to develop in the lung.
Lung cancer is challenging to treat unless it is diagnosed in the early stage when it has not spread. However, most people do not realize they have lung cancer until they have symptoms – coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and weight loss.
At that point, the disease is advanced and has spread beyond the chest, which means a reduced survival rate. One-quarter of patients live two years after diagnosis. Not a happy prognosis.
Stop Smoking Today
Quitting isn’t always easy for chronic smokers. The good news is, there are plenty of methods to stop. The best smoking cessation programs provide smokers with a range of strategies.
Also, keep this in mind:
- Marijuana smoke has many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
- Smokeless tobacco is cancer-causing and not a safe alternative.
- Cigars have similar health risks as cigarettes, causing certain cancers.
- Electronic cigarettes have potentially the same health consequences as conventional cigarettes.
Smoking Cessation Strategies That Work
Many people try to quit cold turkey. However, that does not work for most people.
You know you will not feel great when you first quit. You might feel irritated. You will have cravings. However, the nicotine is not the harmful part of smoking or chewing.
It is all the other things in tobacco that are bad for you, such as tar and carbon monoxide. Nicotine from medicine is absorbed so slowly and at such low levels that it is rarely addictive.
So, it is important that you do not give up. A few strategies can make quitting a lot easier. Sure, you will feel bad the first few days – even the first few weeks. However, things will get better. You have to trust the process.
Here’s what can help you succeed.
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Nicotine replacement products and medicine will double your chances of quitting. When you quit smoking, your body will crave the nicotine. Nicotine replacement products may help with cravings and withdrawal.
Your doctor can prescribe these medicines to help you get through withdrawal. Your doctor can also refer you to counseling programs and that support will assist you through the stress of quitting.
Friends and family can provide encouragement and an all-important shoulder to lean on.
Counseling also helps – whether it is telephone, one-on-one, group, or Internet counseling. Experienced counselors have practical ideas that can help you succeed. People who use these resources are likely to quit smoking successfully.
- National tobacco quitline: 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669)
- Stop-smoking programs: American Lung Association's Freedom from Smoking program (www.lungusa.org).
These programs help you:
- Decide which medicines may be right for you.
- Use email, live chat, and message boards to talk with counselors and people who have quit smoking.
- Sign up for daily text or email messages of encouragement.
Don't forget to check out the free stop-smoking apps on your smartphone, tablet, or another device. You can download the National Cancer Institute's QuitPal app to help track your progress and share your successes on social networking sites.
This app is great, as it allows your friends and family to create inspiring videos you can play in times of stress or when cravings hit. They can help you stay motivated – and reach your goal to quit.
You probably have favorite places where you smoke. Maybe you like smoking at your favorite bar, or on a coffee break at work. When your goal is to quit smoking, you need to avoid those places, those behaviors.
- Ask family and friends to help you avoid them.
- Ask a co-worker to chat or take a quick walk at break – instead of smoking.
- Give up alcohol while you are quitting smoking.
When you finally stop, feel good about your accomplishment. Then pass it on. Take time to support other smokers who are trying to quit.
Talk to Your Kids About Smoking
While smoking is glamorized in movies and television shows, parents have a greater influence on their child’s life. To discourage smoking:
- Tell your children honestly that you do not want them to smoke cigarettes. Be direct. Give them clear, consistent messages about the risks of smoking.
- Start young in talking to your kids about smoking -- 5 or 6 years old. Continue the message through high school.
- Kids are most vulnerable at age 11. Explain the health dangers of smoking. Talk about the unpleasant aspects -- bad breath, discolored teeth, and nails.
- Set a good example for your kids. Don’t smoke. When parents smoke, their children are more likely to smoke.
If you are a parent who smokes, then quitting is the best thing you can do. Talk to your kids about how difficult it is to quit smoking. Tell them how you wish you'd never started smoking in the first place.
Until you quit, don't smoke around your children. Don’t let them have any of your cigarettes.