As we move closer towards the holidays, the month of November will be a time to celebrate with family gatherings. November is also lung cancer awareness month. Learning about the health risks of smoking tobacco is important to protect our health and the health of our families.
About one half of all people who smoke will die of lung cancer. Smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths per year, more than alcohol, car accidents, HIV infection, guns, and illegal drugs combined. Also, cigarette smokers die younger than non-smokers. Smoking can cause other health problems and can damage the heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, and is one of the hardest cancers to cure.
Tobacco smoke can also cause damage when it is inhaled coming out of someone’s mouth or if it comes from the lit end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. This is called secondhand smoke and can also cause lung cancer. Young children can be most affected by second hand smoke and are usually least able to avoid it. Most of a child’s exposure to second hand smoke comes from adults (parents, relatives or others) smoking at home. Studies show that children exposed to smoking in the home will:
- Get sick more often
- Have more lung infections (like bronchitis and pneumonia)
- Are more likely to cough, wheeze, and have shortness of breath
- Get more ear infections
E-cigarettes do not produce smoke and may appear safer, but the e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Also, the vapor of some e-cigarette products contains dangerous chemicals that could cause cancers. Another concern is the refillable cartridges used by some e-cigarettes may expose users to potentially toxic levels of nicotine when refilling them. Cartridges could also be filled with other dangerous drugs rather than nicotine. The health consequences of e-cigarette use are still not clear, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have established a new rule for e-cigarettes and their liquid solutions. Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine derived from tobacco, they are now subject to government regulation as tobacco products, including the requirement that both in-store and online purchasers be at least 18 years of age.
These are some of the benefits of not smoking:
- Right away you’ll save the money you spent on tobacco
- Food tastes better
- Normal sense of smell returns
- Your breath, hair and clothes smell better
- Your teeth and finger nails stop yellowing
- Better tolerate physical activity without getting out of breath
- Prevents premature wrinkling of the skin, gum disease, and tooth loss
Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society “Great American Smoke” out event. You or someone you know to can use this date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day. By quitting – even for 1 day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk. Please contact us for more information on how you or a loved one can quit smoking, because there is no “safe” way to smoke. Click here for more information.
Have a safe and fun November!
John Molina, M.D., J.D.,
NATIVE HEALTH Medical Director