Find a reason to quit smoking: Protect our lungs from Lung Cancer

Published: May 14, 2020 3:12:02 PM

Lung cancer is commonest among the males worldwide. It is also the leading cause of cancer death and around 1.6 million people die every year worldwide.

smoking, how to quit smoking, cancer, lung cancer, Dr Vikas Maurya, fortis hospitalSmoking is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for lung cancer.

By Dr Vikas Maurya

Smoking tobacco is broadly recognized by the medical community as well as the general public as a major public health hazard. It is the single most important preventable risk to human health and an important cause of premature deaths globally. In India, among tobacco use, smoking is one of the major cause of deaths and diseases, accounting for millions such cases.

Smoking nearly affects all organs of the body and harms person’s overall health. Apart from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular diseases, infertility, bone weakness, increase risk of tuberculosis, it can cause cancer of all parts of the body. And among it, lung cancer is the most common and deadliest cancer of the body.

Lung cancer is commonest among the males worldwide. It is also the leading cause of cancer death and around 1.6 million people die every year worldwide. In India also, the data confirm the significant burden of the disease and its contribution toward the cancer morbidity and mortality. According to the GLOBOCAN 2012 (Global cancer data by International Agency for research on cancer, WHO) report, the estimated incidence of lung cancer in India was 70,275 in all ages
and both sexes.

It is the third most common cause of cancer-related mortality in India after breast and cervical cancer. Among Indian males, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths and among Indian female it ranks seventh in terms of cancer-related deaths behind breast, cervix, colorectal, ovary, stomach, and lip/oral cavity cancer.

Among the causes, Smoking is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for lung cancer. Globally, an estimated 100 million deaths in the last century has been reported due smoking. It has been said that around half of all life-long smokers will
die early.

In India, the incidence of lung cancer has paralleled the trends of tobacco smoking. Smoking tobacco remains the single most important risk factor (80–90%); a smaller proportion (10–20%) is attributed to occupational exposure to various carcinogenic agents.

Quitting smoking lowers the risk of smoking related diseases and can add years to our life.  There are certain ways which can help quit smoking. These are:

1. Find the reason to quit – important personal reason will definitely motivate people to quit which may like protecting the family from second hand smoke or reducing the risk of lung cancer or heart disease

2. Counseling session – helps prepare before quitting and discuss all the measures like nicotine replacement therapy, other medications, hypnosis and adverse effects of smoking

3. Nicotine replacement therapy – on stopping smoking nicotine withdrawal causes headaches, mood changes and other ill effects. Short acting nicotine replacement therapy on the form of chewing gums, patches helps relieve the symptoms

4. Avoid triggers – urge for tobacco is high during parties, drinking etc and which should be avoided

5. Clean house – remove ashtrays and any other stuff that reminds of smoking and wash clothes that smell like smoke and clean your carpets, draperies and upholstery

6. Physical activity – it can reduce craving and reduce intensity by distracting from smoking

7. Practice relaxation techniques – smoking may have been used to relieve stress. Practicing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, visualization, massage or listening music can cause relaxation and wave off stress

8. Eat fruits and vegetables – don’t diet while quitting smoking. Instead eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. These are good for the whole body

9. Choose the reward – apart from health benefits of smoking cessation, one of the important perk is the money saved from not buying cigarettes

Reward yourself by spending part of it on something fun activities. Quitting not only decreases the risk of lung cancer but also reduces the risk of heart attacks, stroke, other type of cancers and other debilitating disorders. I believe there is a need of increase and much harsher government regulation on smoking. The addiction that gives only diseases and increase countries economic costs seems to be unacceptable.

(The author is Director and Head, Department of Pulmonology & Sleep Disorders, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi. Views expressed are personal.)


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