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What You Don't Know About the Hazards of Smoking

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
Susan: I don't want to die. I have a lot of cancer in my family, from my father to my uncle to aunts, and I'm tired of everybody telling me I need to quit and not liking how I smell or things like that.

ANNOUNCER: Unlike many smokers, Susan has decided to quit before she feels any serious impact on her health.

Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: Most smokers decide to quit, unfortunately, when they get ill. They're short of breath. Maybe they've been diagnosed with emphysema or bronchitis or even cancer, and they've decided they need to quit.

ANNOUNCER: And while most people know smoking causes lung cancer, many are not aware of the other risks.

Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: In fact, there was a recent Surgeon General's report that showed that smoking causes cancer of almost every organ in the body -- kidney, ureter, bladder, cervix, pancreas. So it's not just the lungs.

ANNOUNCER: According to the Centers for Disease Control, smokers lose an average of 13 years of life because of their habit. But there is good news. No matter how long you've smoked, quitting will improve your health almost immediately.

Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: Within hours, oxygen increases in your bloodstream. Within a year, your risk of heart disease is down by half. Within five years, your risk of stroke is what it would be if you had never smoked.

ANNOUNCER: Susan is looking forward to enjoying those benefits. But she knows from past attempts that quitting won't be easy.

Susan: I'm fighting the desires. I've allowed myself three a day for now. Then it's going to be two, and then it's going to be none.

ANNOUNCER: Dr. Shelley wants smokers to know that there is help out there.

Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: All of those quit attempts that are not successful, probably many of them, at least half, could be successful if smokers call the quit line, spoke to their doctor, went to the pharmacist and asked for help to quit.

ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.

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