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Published on November 13, 2018

great american smokeout is November 15

#TryItTuesday: Protect Your Lungs and Your Life

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness and National COPD Awareness Month.

Did you know that smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer? It causes about 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals that are known to cause lung cancer. These are facts reported by the American Lung Association.

The main risk factor for COPD is smoking. Up to 75 percent of people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. People who have a family history of COPD are more likely to develop the disease if they smoke, according to the National Institutes of Health.


Smoking not only is a leading cause of cancer and COPD, but smoking also harms nearly every organ of the body. Here are just a few of the negative health impacts of smoking:

Brain: Nicotine from cigarettes is as addictive as heroin. Nicotine addiction is hard to beat because it changes your brain. The brain develops extra nicotine receptors to accommodate the large doses of nicotine from tobacco. When the brain stops getting the nicotine it’s used to, the result is nicotine withdrawal. You may feel anxious, irritable and have intense cravings for nicotine.

Heart: Smoking raises your blood pressure and puts stress on your heart. Over time, the strain on the heart can weaken it, making it less able to pump blood to other parts of your body. Carbon monoxide from inhaled cigarette smoke also contributes to a lack of oxygen, causing the heart to work even harder. This increases the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks

Belly: Need another reason why smoking is bad for you? Bigger belly. Smokers have bigger bellies and less muscle than non-smokers. They are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, even if they don’t smoke every day. Smoking also makes it harder to control diabetes once you have it. Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputations.

Muscles: When you smoke, less blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, making it harder to build muscle. The lack of oxygen also makes muscles tire more easily. Smokers have more muscle aches and pains than non-smokers.

The Great American Smokeout

I personally haven’t ever smoked, so no, I can’t say that I understand how difficult it is to quit using tobacco. However, after losing my father this past year to COPD, I’m passionate about sharing with others the tools, risks and complications of continuing with their tobacco habit.

This year the Great American Smokeout event is on Nov. 15. Many refer to this as their day to quit, but I’d encourage all smokers participating to think of it as their first step toward a healthier life!

Did You Know?

Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90 percent.

Quitting while you're younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Quitting tobacco use is hard, but you don’t have to go it alone. There are excellent resources available for you, such as state QuitLines, as you take this first step toward a healthier life.

Let Nov. 15 be your first step toward a healthier life!

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