Most people acknowledge that cigarette smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that it is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States? It’s true—cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths every year (nearly 1 in 5 of all U.S. deaths). However, we at Westchester Health want to draw your attention to one very important word in the paragraph above: preventable. Smoking is a choice, and quitting smoking is also a choice.
We know that smoking is very addictive, and that quitting is very, very hard. That’s why we want you to know that if you want to quit, we’re here to help. Many of us are former smokers too and can share with you how we quit. Most importantly, we can put you in touch with proven, trusted support systems that can help you. Always, our #1 goal is to help you live your best, healthiest life.
Some statistics from the CDC regarding smoking:
- Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals.
- Smoking causes approximately 90% of all lung cancer deaths.
- More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
- Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
- Even people who smoke fewer than 5 cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.
- As well as causing high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks, smoking can also reduce blood flow to your legs and skin.
- Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.
- If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make an attack worse.
- Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Motor vehicle injuries
- Firearm-related incidents
- More people in the U.S. are addicted to nicotine than any other drug.
- Research shows that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.
- Smoking can cause sexual impotence (erectile dysfunction) and infertility in women. People who stop smoking often start again because of withdrawal symptoms, stress and weight gain.
Cancers caused by smoking
Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body, including:
- Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
- Colon and rectum (colorectal)
- Kidney and ureter
- Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate and tonsils)
The harmful effects of breathing in secondhand smoke
Secondhand smoke is what a smoker breathes out after inhaling a cigarette, cigar, pipe, e-cigarette or other smoking device. This inhaled/exhaled smoke typically contains around 4,000 chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer. When the people in the vicinity of a smoker breathe in this smoke, they are exposed to these chemicals.
People who routinely breathe in secondhand smoke are often affected by the same health problems that affect smokers, including:
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
The good news: quitting smoking dramatically improves your health and in many cases, can reverse a lot of the damage
- Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops significantly.
- Within 2-5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke may decrease to that of a nonsmoker’s.
- If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder drop by half within 5 years.
- Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half.
- Quitting significantly lowers your risk of developing lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
- Women who stop smoking during pregnancy reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.
- In addition, women of childbearing age who stop smoking reduce their risk of infertility.
Want to stop smoking? Here’s help
If you smoke, one of the most important things you can do for your health is stop. There are many over-the-counter and prescription medicines that can help you quit, plus, every state has a QuitLine. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to be connected to the one in your area and for local resources that can help you. Plus, go to these websites:
- Stop Smoking/American Lung Association
- Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco
- Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke (CDC)
Read our blogs on the subject
We’ve written several informative blogs focusing on medical conditions in the field of family medicine, which you can read here.
Want to know more about how to stop smoking? Come see us.
If you’re ready to stop smoking but don’t want to go it alone, or want more information about how to quit, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health family medicine practitioners. Together, we’ll figure out the best way forward for you and how to get help to stop smoking. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.