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Warning: Even Light Smoking Poses Health Hazards

hand holding cigarettesMost health-conscious people are aware of how lifestyle factors can impact the likelihood that they will develop cancer. In order to avoid these diseases, they will load their diets with antioxidant-heavy food, start an exercise regimen, manage stress more effectively and give up smoking.

Even after someone has been diagnosed with cancer, these lifestyle habits do not cease to be important. Smoking cessation is especially advisable for individuals who need help with mesothelioma.

Recently, an expert from the American Cancer Society (ACS) published an article which suggested that even light smoking poses serious health hazards.

Tobacco wreaks havoc all over the body
There is a reason why smoking cessation is a common New Year’s resolution: tobacco harms nearly every organ in the body. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that cigarette smoking is responsible for about one-fifth of the deaths that take place in the U.S every year. That is more than HIV, car accidents, illegal drug use and murders combined.

The respiratory and cardiovascular systems are two of the organ systems that are most commonly associated with the negative effects of smoking. Specifically, this habit causes coronary heart disease, constriction of the blood vessels, abdominal aortic aneurysms and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Furthermore, smoking has been linked to malignant illnesses of the lungs, bladder, esophagus, stomach, throat, kidneys, cervix, mouth and bone marrow. Tobacco use may also cause other health complications, such as infertility and birth defects.

For these reasons, health experts agree that smoking cessation is always a good idea. Individuals who have malignant diseases of the respiratory system, such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, would also do themselves a favor by kicking the habit.

There’s no safe amount of smoking
Given the hazards associated with tobacco, most people would agree that heavy smoking – 20 to 30 cigarettes a day – is downright dangerous. However, J. Lee Westmaas, Ph.D., the director of tobacco research in the Behavioral Research Center of the ACS, recently wrote that even light smoking is unhealthy.

This is concerning in light of data showing that between 1996 and 2001, the amount of light smokers in the U.S. increased by 40 percent. These individuals may not consider themselves to be smokers and, consequently, do not feel a need to quit.

“Smoking even as little as five days out of the month can lead to more shortness of breath and coughing. What’s more, smoking just one to four cigarettes a day can increase the risk of dying from heart disease and all causes, like cancer,” Westmaas wrote. “For women, the news is even worse: women’s risk of lung cancer from light smoking is greater than men’s when compared to never-smokers of both genders.”

Don’t be afraid if you need help
If you have mesothelioma or other disease related to asbestos exposure, you should quit smoking immediately. Some people can go cold turkey, but others may need help.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a website that features plenty of tips to help you quit smoking. Among their general recommendations are reflecting on reasons why you should quit, being aware of factors that trigger cravings and remember how much money you can save by never buying another cigarette.

Furthermore, there are several medications that can help you give up tobacco. Some of these products, including skin patches and chewing gum, reduce withdrawal by supplementing nicotine. Other drugs, such as Zyban and Chantix, either alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal or make cigarettes less desirable by blocking the effects of nicotine.

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