It's Never Too Late to Quit Smoking
- Actress Natasha Lyonne has opened up about giving up her smoking habit as she’s “enjoying life” in her 40s.
- Smoking has been linked to many cancers. It’s the number one risk factor for lung cancer.
- A recent study suggests that smokers who quit smoking by age 45 canceled out 87% of excess lung cancer risk.
- Smokers (of all ages) who quit tobacco significantly reduce their risk of dying from cancer. People who stop smoking after they are diagnosed with cancer also benefit.
- Support networks, exercise, relaxation techniques, nicotine replacement therapy and counseling can all be incredibly helpful tools for people who want to quit smoking.
The 43-year-old, who co-created and starred in the comedy-drama television series “Russian Doll” and turns 44 on Tuesday, confessed her smoking habit is something she’s been “putting off for so long” in a recent interview with Variety.Read More
“I’m curious what it would be like to soften, or to play women. I’ve been playing men this whole time. I’ve been stealing from De Niro my whole life,” Lyonne, who credited Al Pacino and Stanley Kubrick as influencers in her acting career.
She recounted asking herself recently, “What would it be like to let my voice register a bit higher? What would it be like to be a bit more vulnerable?”
Thanks @Variety @gucci 😎😎 https://t.co/wJMRx5yUOo
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) April 1, 2023
Although she’s unsure how long she can live without smoking, she insists she won’t feel resentment toward herself if she falls victim to a cigarette craving.
Further proof I need to quit smoking in 2023. 🧟♀️🧟♀️🧟♀️🧟♀️🧟♀️ https://t.co/WAovTBY9pv
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) December 30, 2022
Lyonne added, “I’m taking this time to get very quiet. I’m dying to direct a feature, so I’ve been taking a lot of time to read books and see what’s worth adapting. I’m also working on my own scripts and rewriting scripts I’ve already written. I don’t know what smoking is going to look like once I’m back interfacing on set with all the elements.”
She also isn’t shy to admit that quitting her smoking habit hasn’t come easy. “Why can’t someone invent a healthy cigarette? I thought this was the future,” she wrote in a Twitter post last month.
Why can’t someone invent a healthy cigarette? I thought this was the future.
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) March 3, 2023
Smoking and Cancer Risk
The American Cancer Society estimates that smoking causes approximately 20% of all cancers and about 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States.
“We know that there is a causal relationship between smoking and both incidents of cancer and the chance of dying from cancer,” Dr. Andrea Tufano-Sugarman of NYU Langone Health told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview. “And there are very few things in science that have a cause and effect relationship, but this is one of them, which is very powerful.”
Lung Cancer in Smokers vs. Non-Smokers
The National Cancer Institute reports that tobacco use causes many cancers including cancer of the lung, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, colon and rectum, stomach, pancreas and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia (a type of blood cancer). Smokeless tobacco (snuff or chewing tobacco) users have increased risks of cancers of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas.
Lung cancer is the second-most common type of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) in the United States. It’s also the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women across the country. It’s important to note that non-smokers still do get lung cancer, but cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for the disease.
Tobacco smoke is made up of a mixture of more than 7,000 different chemicals – at least 70 of which are proven to cause cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, cigarette smoking is connected to approximately 80-90% of lung cancer deaths, and people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who don’t smoke.
Additionally, second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer. The CDC estimates that secondhand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year among U.S. adults who do not smoke.
“Cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body,” the CDC explains. “Cigarette smoking causes cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.”
Read More on Quitting
- Quitting Smoking Early Pays Off: New Research Finds that Smokers Who Quit By 45 Reduce Their Excess Lung Cancer Risk by 87%; Tips For Quitting
- Cancer Surviving Rockstar Melissa Etheridge, 61, Encourages Natasha Lyonne, 43, as Actress Stops Smoking: How Quitting Can Greatly Reduce Lung Cancer Risk
- Drew Barrymore, 47, Says Quitting Drinking And Therapy Has Let Her Find Happiness: ‘Kids Made Me Feel Like Game Time’
How To Quit Smoking Cigarettes
If you want to quit smoking but are thinking that it’s too late to make a change. Think again.
Take it From a Guy Who Looks at Diseased Lungs Every Day — Stop Smoking
Recent research published in JAMA Oncology suggests that smokers who stop the habit by age 45 canceled out 87% of excess lung cancer risk. Smokers who quit by 35 effectively eliminated their excess risk.
Additionally, the researcher who led the study said smokers who beat their addiction by their 50s and early 60s also meaningfully reduced their risk of dying from cancer.
Dr. Andrea Tufano-Sugarman often counsels cancer patients who are trying to stop smoking, which, she says, is similar to counseling other smokers.
Quitting Smoking Can Help the Success of Your Lung Cancer Surgery
When Dr. Tufano-Sugarman works with people with cancer, counseling is usually paired with nicotine replacement therapy. She often prescribes a daily nicotine patch to manage withdrawal symptoms, as well as a fast-acting option to curb cravings like nicotine gum, an inhaler or spray.
She advises people trying to kick their smoking habit that the process is not always linear.
“There’s going to be slip-ups and relapses,” Dr. Tufano-Sugarman said. “But above all, it’s never too late to stop.”
Strategies for Managing Tobacco Cravings:
- Nicotine replacement therapy. As Dr. Tufano-Sugarman explained, nicotine replacement therapy is one of the top tools that smokers can use to assist them in quitting the unhealthy habit. Long-acting therapies such as nicotine patches can be paired with short-acting therapies (i.e. nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhalers) to cope with intense cravings. E-cigarettes and vapes are also substitutes of smoking, however, more research will be needed to gauge the effectiveness and dangers of these and other substitutes.
- Steer clear of triggers. Cravings can come on in full force when you’re in a situation where you’re accustomed to having tobacco. Understanding what these environments are for you and making plans for how you can manage them without tobacco or avoid them completely are crucial.
- Wait. Feel yourself on the brink of giving in to a tobacco craving? Try to delay smoking for 10 minutes and do something that might distract you. Move to a non-smoking area to make it less convenient for you to smoke. Cravings can often subside if given time.
- Chew something. Whether it’s gum, candy or vegetables, chew something that will keep your mouth occupied when you’re trying to resist your cravings.
- Don’t give in to the “just one more” mentality. Smoking once only leads to smoking again. Be careful not to convince yourself that you can satisfy a tobacco craving and then quit after that.
- Exercise more. Exercise is a healthy habit to get into no matter what. It can also help distract you from tobacco cravings and minimize them. Even short periods of physical activity can help tobacco cravings go away.
- Try relaxation techniques. Discovering alternative ways to de-stress can be a key part of quitting smoking. Techniques like deep breathing, yoga, visualization, muscle relaxation, and massage can open new doors for the way you relate to stress and smoking.
- Reach out for support. Having strong support systems is essential both for people battling cancer and people battling tobacco addiction. Talking to a friend or family member on the phone or going for a walk can serve as a reminder that you’re not in this alone.
- Research other resources. The Mayo Clinic recommends a free telephone line—800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669)—for support and counseling. There are also online support groups for smokers trying to quit, and blogs where people share how they manage the same challenges you are facing.
- Remind yourself why you want to quit. Whether your goal is to feel better, reduce your cancer risk, get healthier, save money or prepare for cancer treatment, it can help to write down or speak aloud the reason(s) you decided to quit in the first place.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff
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