Summer is a great time to quit smoking. Instead of using those 15 minute work breaks to breathe the foul acrid odor of cigarette smoke you could be inhaling the sweet aroma of blossoming flowers. And the few putative advantages of smoking, such as weight loss and image enhancement, are vastly overrated and are easily and more healthfully achieved through many other methods.
We all know that smoking is bad for us in so many ways. But in case you have tried to banish these thoughts from your mind, let’s review:
- Smoking is the leading cause of cancer.
- Smoking damages your lungs. Smokers cough more often and are more likely to get colds, bronchitis and emphysema, a type of lung disease.
- Smoking can lead to insulin resistance and increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, insulin resistance means that you will need to take more medication to bring down your blood glucose levels.
- Smokers get short-winded easily. This makes it more difficult to keep up with the activities your friends are doing.
- Smoking damages your skin; making you look older than you are. We are all going to wrinkle eventually, but who wants to advance the process?!
- Smoking gives you bad breath; not a great advertisement for your social calendar.
- The chemicals in second-hand smoke are harmful to other people and pets.
- And no subsitutes—cigar smoke, chewing tobacco, snuff and pipe smoke are just as deadly as cigarette smoke.
And, if you have diabetes smoking is even more dangerous because you are already at higher risk for vascular problems. The chemicals in tobacco narrow your blood vessels further and promote blood clot formation, which makes your risk of heart disease 14 times higher than if you did not smoke.
Smoking when you have diabetes also increases your risk of end-stage kidney disease, nerve problems, stroke and amputation.
Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting can do wonderful things for your body in a short time.
Did you know?
- After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
- After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal
- Two weeks to 9 months later, your circulation and your lung function improve
- Your blood glucose levels may improve (smoking increases insulin resistance)
- Stopping smoking can lower cholesterol levels
So make the pledge to quit today. Talk with your doctor. There are so many new tools available to make quitting easier.
And don’t be discouraged, research has shown that people may need to quit as many as eight times before they stop for good. It may also help not to go it alone. Most people benefit from behavioral counseling as well as medication in the quest to be tobacco free.