By now, most of us are aware of the more notorious dangers of tobacco use such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease and heart disease. (Not to mention premature aging.). But tobacco is a far bigger villain than most of us realize and accounts for the death of more than 434,000 persons each year. Thus, tobacco use is a factor in almost one out of every five premature deaths in this country. What follows is a somewhat harrowing litany of tobacco related problems.
- Bladder Cancer: Smoking causes 40% of all bladder cancers, accounting for more than 4,000 new cases each year.
- Breast Cancer: Smokers have a 75% increased risk of this deadly cancer.
- Cervical Cancer: Up to 7,000 new cases a year–1/3 of all new cases–are directly attributable to smoking.
- Childhood respiratory ailments: Passive Smoking (i.e. second hand smoke exposure) in our children causes a six-fold increase in cases of bronchitis, pneumonia, cough, and middle ear infections. It causes up to 26,000 new cases of asthma a year and aggravates symptoms in up to 1,000,000 kids who already have it.
- Gastrointestinal Cancers: There is a significant increase in the risk of these cancers in smokers. This includes cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
- Delayed healing after injury or surgery: Likely due to the reduced oxygen levels available to the damaged tissues. Smoking is a very important cause of prolonged back pain after an injury.
- Stroke: There is a twofold increase in the risk of a stroke in smokers.
- Passive smoking also causes up to 3,300 lung cancer deaths per year and is a significant causative agent in the development of chronic lung disease in non-smokers!
Smoking is a very hard habit to break. The best success has been achieved by using a combination of a behavioral modification program (such as those offered through the American Lung Association) and a nicotine containing patch or gum (now available over-the-counter and just as effective as the prescibed products). However, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned will power.
The key to success is perseverance. If you fail in your efforts, then pick yourself back up and try again. The only people who never manage to quit smoking are those who don't keep trying!