Why should you stop smoking?

No matter what’s said, there is no safe cigarette. The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 438,000 deaths -- or nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths -- each year in the United States.

There are approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, arsenic and cyanide. Smoking cigarettes will kill you - and it’ll kill your wallet. The American Cancer Society estimates that cigarettes cost the average smoker $1,600 a year.

Smoking affects nearly every organ in the body, not just your lungs. Cigarette smokers are two times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke than non-smokers. Cigarette smoking reduces circulation by narrowing the blood vessels, and smokers are more than 10 times as likely to develop peripheral vascular disease. Smoking even can affect how long it takes the blood vessels and nerves to heal after surgery. Other affects on the body include a higher chance of having a heart attack, increased cholesterol, more complications from diabetes and increased rates of osteoporosis. Women who smoke and are pregnant also are at risk, as they are more likely to have low birth-weight babies and pre-term deliveries.

In terms of lung cancer, smoking is estimated to be responsible for approximately 87 percent of all cases of lung cancer, including 90 percent of cases in men and 79 percent of cases in women. The chance of developing lung cancer among heavy smokers may be as high as 30 percent, compared with a non-smoker whose lifetime risk of lung cancer is 1 percent or less. Smoking also can cause emphysema, chronic bronchitis and more upper respiratory tract infections each year for you.

Why else should you quit smoking? If you smoke, you are a “walking cigarette.” You always smell like smoke. So, if you stop smoking, you will smell better. Cigarette smoke also can make you look older, and stain your teeth and fingernails yellow. Smoking every day can make you short of breath and give you a dry, hacking cough. If you continue to smoke, you could end up being on oxygen for the rest of your life. You even could become confined to a wheelchair, because you become so short of breath, you do not have the energy to walk anymore.

A lifetime of smoking can lead to a horrific death. The carbon monoxide in the cigarettes will eventually replace all the air in your lungs, and you can literally suffocate to death. If you do not want to quit smoking for yourself, do it for the people who love you. What will your family do when you die before your time? Who will take care of your kids? Who will take care of your spouse?

One study states that each cigarette you smoke will shorten your life by 11 minutes. You do not have to die from smoking. Smoking is a preventable disease. The benefits from not smoking begin on day one, and for those who are ready to quit, my office can help.

Dr. James Howell is a board-certified family medicine physician at the Blount Memorial Family Care Center at Springbrook. He is accepting new patients, and appointments can be made by calling 865-273-1555

© 2008 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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