It has been estimated that active smoking is responsible for close to 90 percent of lung cancer cases and is linked to mouth, throat and several other cancers. Smoking is the most important risk factor for lung cancer that can be modified.
The risk you have accumulated from smoking never disappears. However, quitting will help decrease your risk. After being smoke free for 10 years, you’re half as likely to die from lung cancer, according to the American Heart Association.
How much risk you have depends on several factors, such as how many years you smoked, how many cigarettes you smoked per day, and what age you started to smoke. It’s important to remember that there are many benefits to quitting smoking that are just as important as decreasing your risk from dying of lung cancer.
Smoking also puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. According to the American Cancer Society, five years after you quit smoking your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker and 15 years after you quit your risk of heart disease is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
Quitting smoking is very difficult, but the sooner you quit, the sooner your risk for serious diseases will decrease. The success rate of quitting is much better with the right help. There are many different options available to help smokers quit.
Nicotine replacement therapy is a common strategy. It works by giving the body controlled, lower doses of nicotine to reduce withdrawal symptoms. However, nicotine replacement therapies are not meant to be long-term solutions.
There are five nicotine replacement therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Quitting is difficult and most people need multiple layers of support regardless if you’re using nicotine replacement therapies or not. There are a variety of options available:
If you’re thinking of quitting and don’t know how to start, consult your primary care physician. Your physician will be able to connect you to programs and support materials in your community.
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