By far smoking is considered the most common and predictable cause of cancer. Years of study and research has established a link between the two, but what exactly gets smoking to cause cancer, still remains unknown to many people. This article talks about why and how smoking is associated with lung cancer.
How does smoking lead to lung cancer?
Cigarettes contain as many as 60 harmful chemicals such as Benzene, Polonium 210, Nicotine, Hydrogen cyanide, Carbon monoxide, Ammonia, Arsenic etc. which cause damage to the DNA cells including the genes that keep us protected against cancer. These chemicals adversely affect your lungs. The initial symptoms include wheezing and coughing, and can lead to further complications if not paid attention at an early stage.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an inflammatory disease of the lungs which obstructs airflow resulting in respiratory troubles like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. People with COPD find it difficult to breath because of narrowed airways and damaged lung tissues.
How long does it take for smoking to cause lung cancer?
Although the initial symptoms such as a ‘smoker’s cough’ can be dismissed in the early stage, it usually takes a decade or many years of smoking to get your DNA cells damaged. Even though the human body is designed to cope with certain health problems and damage, it becomes difficult for your system to fight the harmful chemicals present in cigarettes and tobacco. Studies show that for every 15 cigarettes you smoke, your DNA undergoes change which can cause a cell to become cancerous.
According to a study by the American Lung Association, almost 80% of lung cancers result from smoking. It is most common among people over 50 years of age who have been smoking for a prolonged time. Further research studies show that life expectancy among current smokers drop by 10 years or more, while those who quit smoking at an early stage manage to survive few more years.
How to prevent lung cancer?
Now that we’ve established the link between smoking and lung cancer, the next big thing would be to prevent the risk of getting affected by it. The most effective way of preventing lung cancer is to stop smoking. Even if you have been smoking for a long time, it is never too late to quit. You may find it hard to resist smoking initially, but do not give up. Consult your doctor, ask for help. He will most likely prescribe you anti-smoking drugs like Zyban and Chantix. One alternative to anti-smoking medication is the Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). NRT helps reduce the urge for nicotine in your body by giving you a controlled amount of nicotine that is free from any of the harmful chemicals present in cigarettes.
Awareness is the key to prevention. Even if you find it hard to quit smoking, remind yourself why you made a decision to quit, of the long-term effects smoking has on your health, and how it can lead to a life-threatening condition.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!