Saturday, May 30, 2009

Smoking and Cancer – A Deadly Combination

Research shows the link between smoking and cancer is very clear - smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer in the world.

Over 44 000 South Africans die from tobacco-related diseases annually and many more become ill from using tobacco products and inhaling second-hand smoke. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, which has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers. The good news is that most of these deaths are preventable by giving up smoking in time. Smoking also increases the risk of many other cancers including cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), oesophagus (food pipe), liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bladder and cervix.

Second-hand smoke: Breathing in other people's smoke can cause cancer. Second-hand smoke can cause other health problems too, including heart disease, stroke and breathing problems.

Second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous for children because their bodies are still developing. Smoking when you are with your children can increase their risk of cot death, "glue ear", respiratory illness such as asthma and chest infections, and may cause cancer later on in life. If you are a smoker, do not expose your child to your smoke, especially in confined areas indoors and in cars.

10 useful tips to help you quit smoking:

* Decide on a date to quit smoking and do it.
* Throw away all reminders of smoking: cigarette packets, ashtrays, lighters.
* Drink lots of water - it will help flush the nicotine from your body,
* Become more active - exercise i.e. walk, jog
* Change your routine. Avoid smokers and things that make you want to smoke for the first couple of days.
* Tell your family and friends that you are trying to quit so that they can offer you support.
* You may experience some dizziness, headaches or coughing once you have stopped smoking. This is normal and should improve after a day or two and disappear within 14 days.
* The first 2 or 3 days are the most difficult, after that it gets easier. Your cravings will reduce and eventually disappear.
* If you are worried about gaining weight, eat at regular times during the day. Snack on fruit between meals. Take time for exercise. Not all ex-smokers gain weight.
* Do not use a crisis or special occasion as an excuse for "just one" cigarette. One cigarette leads to another and another, and another.

Giving up smoking is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. Any amount of success is success all the same, even if you managed to quit for only a few hours. The achievement is equal to quitting for good. Hopefully you will have felt the benefits and are motivated to do better the next time.

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