Smoking is the main cause of preventable death in the UK- it’s linked to a variety of illnesses and conditions, from cancers and heart problems to respiratory infections and fertility issues. It also creates cosmetic problems such as premature ageing, bad breath and stained teeth, as well as contributing to gum disease and brittle bones. However, it’s never too late to kick the habit, as stopping at any age will increase your life expectancy and reduce your risk of developing a chronic illness.
What are the health risks?
Cigarettes contain thousands of toxic chemicals that contribute towards many life-threatening diseases and conditions, including:
- A variety of cancers (including lung, mouth, lip, throat, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, liver and cervix)
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema
- Reduced protection against infection
- Earlier menopause
- Sperm abnormalities
Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke, perhaps from a partner or family member, are also at risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. Asthmatics may experience increased sensitivity and reduced lung function, while babies and children are more likely to develop respiratory infection.
The Department of Health says that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of infant mortality by an estimated 40 per cent, and it is believed that passive exposure to tobacco smoke, both before and after birth, has a substantial impact on the risk of a range of foetal and childhood health problems.
How can I reduce these risks?
Giving up smoking increases your chances of living a longer and healthier life. You’ll start to notice the benefits soon after stopping – your blood pressure, lung function, circulation and breathing will all improve – and your risk of serious illness begins to reduce. Smokers should never assume it is too late to give up. Even if you have already been diagnosed with a serious illness, your prognosis is improved if you can cut out cigarettes.
National support services
- Action on Smoking and Health (Ash)
- NHS Choices
Visit www.nhs.uk/livewell/smoking to find support services in your local area. You’ll also find interactive tools and tips to help you give up smoking, including:
- Smoking calculator to show the financial and health costs of your habit.
- Downloadable ‘quit smoking’ widget
- ‘Quit smoking’ iPhone app.
Do you have any specific concerns? Call us now on 0207 580 3145