Smoking and the Increased Risk of Cancer
The dangers of smoking have long been accepted by most people around the world. Despite this, some 38 million people in the US use tobacco products regularly and put themselves at risk of developing serious diseases such as lung cancer.
Tobacco itself contains more than 7,000 different chemicals and about 70 of these are considered to be highly poisonous. It’s no surprise, therefore, that smoking is one of the leading causes of death in the world today and It’s a habit which could be completely avoided.
Here we look at the health risks of smoking, how it causes disease and why quitting can greatly reduce the chance of developing certain types of cancer.
What are the Health Risks of Smoking?
Smoking can increase the risk of developing a range of diseases from cancer and heart disease to emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
It also increases the chances of developing diseases such as tuberculosis and it can quickly compromise the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses such as colds and other viruses.
According to the CDC, passive smoking is also dangerous. Exposure to second hand smoke is thought to lead to more than 40,000 deaths each year.
How Does Smoking Cause Cancer?
The link between cancer and smoking is extremely clear and has been for many years. With thousands of poisonous chemicals that can get into the bloodstream, smoking associated with the development of several cancer types.
The most obvious is lung cancer and research to date suggests that smoking is the major cause in 80% of diagnosed cases.
From the minute someone begins smoking, they risk damage to the airways and air sacs in the lungs. The longer someone smokes, the more damage is caused giving the chance for cells to mutate and become cancerous.
What Types of Cancer Can Smoking Cause?
It’s not just lung cancer where smoking is found to be a leading cause of death. It’s also the major influence on people developing coronary heart disease and other forms of cancer. These include cancer of the nose, mouth and throat as well as liver, stomach and bladder cancer.
In women who have smoked for more than ten years and started at an early age, the risk of developing breast cancer increased by 21%.
Health Risks of Smoking During Pregnancy
There are huge health risks for an unborn child during pregnancy, if the mother uses tobacco or lives in a household where someone smokes.
This can include the baby being born preterm and with low birth weight as well as increasing the risk of birth defects. Smoking during and following pregnancy can also raise the risk of a child dying from sudden infant death syndrome.
Health Risks Associated with Passive Smoking
Individuals who smoke are not only increasing their risk of developing a disease such as lung cancer but they put those around them in danger too. We understand more about second-hand smoke today than we did a few decades ago.
A child that lives in a house where people smoke, for example, is more likely to develop respiratory illnesses. For co-habitants who do not smoke, living with a smoker can increase their risk of coronary heart disease and lung, throat and breast cancer.
How to Quit and the Health Benefits From Giving Up
As anyone who has smoked will attest, quitting can be difficult. It’s important to have a plan in place and stay positive. Switching to nicotine replacement products can help initially and avoiding activities such as drinking can also reduce the temptation to smoke again.
There are numerous health benefits to giving up smoking and it starts with reducing the risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Individuals who quit tend to find that they have more energy, their complexion is clearer and their sense of smell and taste improves.
Quitting smoking can also boost fertility and positively affect a person’s sex drive. Not smoking in the home certainly provides health benefits for those an individual lives with, especially children, reducing their risk of developing lung and breathing problems.
Research suggests that men who quit smoking by the age of 30 are likely to add 10 years to their life. Even those who stop smoking in their 60s should find it adds two or three years. It’s never too late to benefit from stopping smoking.
Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of diseases such as cancer in the world today. A study in 2011 suggested that, if everyone stopped smoking suddenly, some 2.8 million premature deaths could be avoided in the USA alone, saving $211 billion on healthcare spending.
No matter the type of cancer, the earlier it’s diagnosed and treatment begins, the greater the odds of recovery.
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