Most people associate tobacco smoke with causing lung cancer. In reality, it is also a factor in several other cancers, including:
- Oral cavity, lip
- Larynx (voice box)
It is estimated that 1,000,000 people die each year of lung cancer and these other smoking-related cancers. The longer a person smokes and the more cigarettes that are smoked, the greater the likelihood of developing smoking-related cancers.
When smokers quit, within twenty minutes of smoking the last cigarette the body begins to change. Improvement in health begins within a few days. A "quitter" drops the risk of lung cancer to one- half of continuing smokers, after 10 years of being smoke free. The risk of developing other cancers decreases significantly as well. Fifteen years after the last cigarette the risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked!
Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members and others who breathe the smoker's cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is linked with not only lung cancer in non-smokers, but also breast cancer and nasal sinus cancers. Among infants to age 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year.
When the decision is made to quit smoking, or if a smoker is beginning to think about quitting, a good place to start is with a call to Quitline Iowa. This is a toll-free smoking cessation telephone counseling hotline. Trained counselors provide assistance in making an individualized quit plan and provide on-going support through optional follow-up calls. The Quitline is staffed 8 AM to midnight, 7 days a week. The number is 866-822-6879.
Tips for quitting:
- Notice when and why you smoke. Look for patterns that can be altered.
- Set a quit date.
- Get rid of all your cigarettes. Put away your ashtrays.
- When you get the urge to smoke, do something else instead.
- Carry other things to put in your mouth, such as gum, hard candy, or a toothpick.
- Try to exercise-take walks or ride a bike.
- Eat regular meals. Feeling hungry is sometimes mistaken for the desire to smoke.
- Get help to quit. Many people use some sort of assistance to quit.
- If you slip and smoke, don't be discouraged. Many former smokers tried to stop several times before they finally succeeded. Quit again!
For more information about any cancer concern, contact:
Cancer Information Service
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
UI Hospitals and Clinics
200 Hawkins Drive, 4802 JPP
Iowa City, Iowa 52242