"The great news is that many lung cancers can be prevented, and the most important thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking or to quit if you currently smoke," said Erika Van Dam, Family & Community Health Services Supervisor from the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, who coordinates the local Tobacco Reduction Coalition.
Michigan ranks 19th in the nation in lung cancer deaths; 32 states have lower rates. According to the CDC, in the U.S. about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women are due to smoking. Each year, smoking accounts for an estimated 443,000 premature deaths; including 38,000 deaths among nonsmokers as a result of secondhand smoke. Half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related diseases.
"Fortunately, it is never too late to quit smoking, and quitting smoking today can reduce your risk," said Van Dam. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer as well. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. In the Health Department's four-county service area, 24 non-smokers die every year from secondhand smoke, Van Dam said. "That's why we work in the community to promote smokefree environments, including smokefree workplaces and apartment buildings," she said.
Research shows that people who stop smoking before age 50 can cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke. Smokers who quit also reduce their risk of lung cancer. Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker. Some of the health effects of quitting are almost instant, too. For example, heart rate and blood pressure drop just 20 minutes after quitting.Some tips to quit smoking so you can reduce your risk of cancer are:
With all the resources available to help smokers quit, there has never been a better time to quit smoking. Studies have found that Quitlines can more than double a person's chances of successfully quitting tobacco. Callers to Quitlines can be connected with smoking cessation resources in their communities, social support groups, Internet resources, and medication assistance referrals.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about quitting tobacco use, including local resources, visit the Health Department’s website at www.nwhealth.org/tobacco.html or contact Van Dam at 347-6014.