Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, but it is the most preventable form of cancer death in our society. Smokeless tobacco products are less lethal but are not a safe alternative to smoking. Using smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine addiction, and the use of tobacco in any form is harmful to one’s health.
BU is committed to helping employees quit smoking. QuitNet is a free online smoking cessation program for all Boston University employees and their families.
Secondhand smoke can also be harmful in many ways. It is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each year in the United States, secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are non-smokers, about 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults, and asthma or asthma related symptoms in up to 1 million children. There is also some evidence suggesting that secondhand smoke may be linked with childhood leukemia and cancers of the larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), brain, bladder, rectum, stomach, and breast.
The benefits of quitting are tremendous and they can be seen immediately. The American Cancer Society notes the following health related statistics:
- 20 minutes after a person stops smoking: heart rate and blood pressure drop
- 12 hours after a person stops smoking: the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal
- 2 weeks to 3 months after a person stops smoking: circulation and lung function improve
- 1 to 9 months after a person stops smoking: coughing and shortness of breath decrease
- 1 year after a person stops smoking: excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker
- 5 years after a person stops smoking: stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker
- 10 years after a person stops smoking: lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker and the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease
- 15 years after a person stops smoking: risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker