Smoking causes 16 cancers. If one doesn’t kill you…it could change your life. Quitting is the one clear way to reduce your risk.
Most of us know about lung cancer, but fewer people are aware that smoking causes 15 other types of cancer.
Besides lung cancer, smoking also causes 15 other cancers – cancers of the bladder, mouth, nasal cavities, pharynx and larynx, stomach, kidney, bowel, liver, pancreas, cervix, and ovaries, oesophagus and ureter, as well as myeloid leukaemia[i].
Every cigarette pumps thousands of harmful chemicals into the lungs, and around the body. Many of these are known to damage DNA – including genes that protect us against cancer – stick to cells, harm cell repair and cause cancer. These chemicals also interfere with the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA – making it even more likely that damaged cells will eventually turn cancerous.
While there are many other causes of cancer and treatment for cancer has improved enormously, the fact remains that if you smoke, you greatly increase your chances of cancer developing and this can be at a relatively young age in your 40s and 50s. Quitting is the single biggest step you can take to reduce your risk.
Willpower is important, but you’re much more likely to succeed if you combine your determination to quit with stop smoking service support and stop smoking aids. For further information log onto http://quit16.co.uk/ or www.nhs.uk/smokefree,
Smoking can also be an expensive habit! On average, smokers can expect to save up to £3000 a year by quitting. Use the NHS quit cost calculator to work out how much money you could save https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/cost-calculator.
Facts and tips to help you quit
If you smoke, the chances are you’ve tried to quit before. But here are some important facts and tips to think about.
- People living in the most deprived areas of England were more than four times more likely to smoke in 2016 than those living in the least deprived areas[ii].
- Think of your health. When you smoke cigarettes or roll ups, you breathe in more than 5000 chemicals, including dozens known to cause cancer like arsenic and formaldehyde. These enter your lungs and spread through your body.
- Smoking causes so many diseases, including 16 types of cancer, heart disease and various lung diseases.
- For lung cancer, research has shown that for every 15 cigarettes smoked there is a DNA change which could cause a cell to become cancerous[iii]. This is why it’s better to stop smoking sooner rather than later.
- More than 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, so no matter how careful you think you’re being, your family still breathes in harmful poisons, putting them at risk of meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Willpower is important, but you’re much more likely to succeed if you combine your determination to quit with stop smoking service support and stop smoking aids http://quit16.co.uk/.
- Research suggests the best chance of success is by stopping abruptly rather than by trying to cut down gradually. Many smokers try to cut down first, but stopping completely creates a clear break.
- Some people do manage to quit first time – but for many it takes more than one attempt. Don’t get disheartened if you didn’t quit first time, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. You can come back better prepared next time http://quit16.co.uk/.
- Even if you’ve struggled to quit before, try to make at least one quit attempt a year until you manage to stop for good, whenever that is. If you try at least once a year, you improve your chances of quitting for good http://quit16.co.uk/.
- Consider using nicotine replacement therapy as a quit aid – there are many different types of this now. The health problems of smoking are caused by other components in tobacco smoke, not by the nicotine.
- If you’ve struggled to quit using quitting aids, why not try switching completely to an e-cigarette/ vaping? E-cigs do not contain tobacco and evidence suggests they carry a fraction of the health risks from smoking.
- Your chances of quitting are doubled if you use a stop smoking medicine prescribed by a GP, pharmacist or other health professional. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms and boost your chances of quitting.
- Prepare for the day you quit and avoid temptation – choose a quit date that’s unlikely to be stressful and make sure you don’t have any cigarettes, lighters or matches on you. Avoid places where people around you might be smoking.
- There’s never ‘just one’ cigarette. Keep busy, and if you find a certain time of day hard, try a new routine.
- Local stop smoking services provide expert advice, support and encouragement to help you stop smoking for good. Give yourself the best chance of quitting by combining stop smoking service support with quitting aids http://quit16.co.uk/.
- Visit http://quit16.co.uk/ for details of local stop smoking support and tips free tools to help you quit, or ask at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.
- www.nhs.uk/smokefree has lots of free support to help you stop for good. This includes the free online ‘personal quit plan’ to help smokers find the right stop smoking support for them.
- Get support from family and friends – their support can go a long way. If your partner smokes, why not quit together? http://quit16.co.uk/.
- On average, smokers can expect to save up to £3000 a year by quitting. Use the NHS quit cost calculator to work out how much money you could save https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/cost-calculator.
- For tips from ex-smokers log onto the Cancer Research UK website https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/smoking-and-cancer/8-stop-smoking-tips-from-the-experts.
[i] The full list from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); is:
- Oral cavity
- Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses
- Colorectal (bowel)
- Myeloid leukaemia
[iii] Cancers are caused by mutations in DNA, which are acquired during a person’s lifetime. Lung cancer causes around one million deaths worldwide each year and almost all are associated with smoking. The number of mutations found in the genome of the lung cancer cells – almost 23 000 – suggest that a typical smoker would acquire one mutation per 15 cigarettes smoked – Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/2010/News/WTX058965.htm
Added: 4 June 2019