Live Well Polk

Did you know that one out of five deaths in the U.S. is related to smoking?

As a matter of fact, smoking kills more Americans each year than suicides, homicides, AIDS and car accidents combined, according to the American Heart Association.

The good news is that Smoking is the most preventable cause of death we face in this country. Millions of people successfully quit every year.

While smokers will cite a variety of reasons for wanting to quit, a look at the statistics alone should be enough:

♦ Smoking causes more than one in five deaths in America.

♦ 90 percent of lung cancer in men is directly related to smoking.

♦ Cigarettes cause 80 percent of lung cancer in women.

♦ On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

♦ Since 1965, more than 45 percent of adults who have ever smoked have quit.

Beyond just the stats, there are some additional reasons to quit and stay smoke free.

Show Me the Money

Smoking is costly, not only to your health, but the money spent buying cigarettes really adds up. Smoking one pack a day at $4 a pack equals $120 a month. That's $1,460 a year. There are numerous calculators online that can help you determine exactly how much smoking costs you each year.

Breathe Easier

Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds that are carried straight to the lungs and then spread into the body. These chemicals harden your lung tissue, making it more difficult to breathe and also more prone to infection.

When you stop smoking:

♦ Within one to three months, lung function begins to improve.

♦ Within one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath begin to improve.

♦ Within five years, the risk of lung cancer is cut in half.

Reduce Cancer Risk and Other Health Improvements

Studies have shown that your health begins to improve just 20 minutes after you stop smoking — when your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal.

♦ Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

♦ Within three months, your circulation and lung function improve.

♦ After just one year, your risk of heart disease is cut in half.

♦ After five years, your risk of several cancers is cut in half.

In addition to cancer, smoking can cause other health issues such as:

♦ Cardiovascular disease

♦ Digestive system irritation and cancer

♦ Back pain

No one is saying that it will be easy. There’s a reason it’s considered an addiction, but help is available.

If you are ready to take a step that will dramatically improve your overall health, consult your family physician, who can help you get started.

Additionally, the American Heart Association offers a number of resources available for those who are ready to put cigarettes down for good.

Tifani Kinard is the Hospital Administrator and Chief Nursing Officer of Polk Medical Center.