Not Smoking is the most Effective Way to Reduce the Risk of Developing a Cancer
Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable cancer deaths. Tobacco smoke contains dozens of carcinogenic chemicals. If people did not smoke cigarettes, roughly one of every three cancer deaths would be prevented.
Progress has been made over the past several decades in lowering smoking rates in the United States, but these gains have been offset by a growing epidemic of cigarette smoking elsewhere in the world. Even in the United States, close to 50 million people smoke cigarettes and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, killing more people than AIDS, car accidents, murder, alcohol, illegal drugs, and suicides combined.
Lung Cancer Risk After Smoking Cessation
Moreover, the reduction in risk is not restricted to lung cancer. Smoking cessation is also associated with a decreased risk for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney, bladder, and colon, as well as leukemias.
Most tobacco-related cancers are linked to cigarette use, but other tobacco products—such as cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco—also cause cancer. Smoking cigars or a pipe triggers most of the same cancers as cigarettes, although the risk of lung cancer is less than with cigarettes because cigar or pipe smoke is not inhaled as deeply into the lungs.
Second hand smoke can also cause cancer, although the risk is small compared with that associated with the direct use of tobacco products. Smoke is not even required for tobacco to exert its carcinogenic effects. Smokeless tobacco, which is chewed rather than smoked, causes numerous cancers of the mouth and throat, as well as some in the esophagus, stomach, and pancreas.
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