Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, as well as diabetes, heart failure, other forms of cancer and several other serious medical problems. With the New Year quickly approaching, there couldn’t be a better time to set goals for yourself and quit the habit. For those who smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. Unfortunately, quitting smoking can be quite the difficult process. Gaining support from family, friends, past smokers and/or actual support groups is the first step to successfully quitting the habit.
Certain lifestyle modifications can help you quit smoking, such as avoiding situations or scenarios in which you normally smoke, such as with your morning cup of coffee. Also, in stressful situations, chew gum or something that can help satisfy that oral fixation. There are also drug therapies that can help you quit smoking, such as Nicorette patches, gum and lozenges, and prescription medications such as Chantix.
Although it is a difficult process, the benefits of quitting smoking go into effect almost immediately. Within 20 minutes of quitting, the heart rate returns to a normal level; within 12 hours of quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to a normal level, and within two weeks, risk of having a heart attack begins to decrease and lung function begins to improve. The benefits continue to drastically increase the longer you go without smoking, with the risk of developing several forms of cancer and having a stroke decreasing significantly within five to fifteen years.
Cone Health Cancer Center hosts a five-week four session QuitSmart smoking cessation program that is open to anyone in the community who wants to quit the habit. This program offers support and helpful tips and tools to help people quit smoking, get on track to living a healthy lifestyle and improve overall wellness. The next series starts on January 26th. To find out more and/or register, visit www.conehealth.com/classes or call (336)832-0838.
Christine Brannock is the oncology outreach manager at Cone Health Cancer Center. Christine earned a Bachelor of Science in public health education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2001, and an associate degree in nursing at Guilford Technical Community College in 2004. She has been an employee at Cone Health for fourteen years.