by: Catherine Olivia
The facts are clear. There is nothing worse you could do to adversely affect your health. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Women are three times more likely to develop lung cancer then men. Cancer has now replaced heart disease as the number one killer of Americans aged 85 and younger. 1/3 of all cancer deaths are related to smoking.
Although there has been a huge decrease in the number of smokers between 1965 and 2000, 22% American adults still continue to smoke. The good news is that surveys have shown that 70% active smokers want to quit.
When you quit smoking the benefits are immediate. Blood cells that transport carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke begin to transport healthy oxygen. Even though quitting doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of developing lung cancer, the risk of lung cancer starts to decline. One year after quitting smoking your chances of having a heart attack drops by half. The risk of lung cancer continues to decline and drop dramatically five to ten years after quitting. So we know that quitting is essential to enjoying a long and healthy life. The question is how do you pick the right way to stop smoking for you?
The first thing you need to know is that most smokers quit unsuccessfully several times before they quit for good. You will most likely not be successful your first time around – but you must still try! Each time you attempt to quit you come closer to finally quitting for good.
There are many organizations available to help you take control of your health and quit smoking. Most smokers find a greater success rate in groups. Organizations such as SmokEnders have community based seminars and will come to the workplace to counsel smokers. SmokEnders is a gradual stop smoking program that says it’s success is based on treating the physical and the psychological aspects of smoking. They offer unlimited toll-free phone counseling.
Some people prefer to try to stop cold turkey. They stop smoking completely with little or no reduction in the number of cigarettes they smoke beforehand. As with any smoker who quits, those who quit cold turkey will experience the withdrawal symptoms of irritability, increased appetite and restlessness. For someone trying to stop smoking cold turkey help can be obtained using medications such as Zyban which lessens withdrawal symptoms. Zyban can only be obtained with a prescription.
Some smokers obtain relief from smoking withdrawal with a nicotine replacement commonly known as a nicotine patch. Patches are used for up to eight weeks. Nicotine patches are available over the counter. It is suggested that you talk to your doctor before trying any over the counter nicotine replacement therapy.
The American Cancer Society and American Lung Association have free information available. The federal government also has free information for smokers available at http://www.smokefree.gov.