Smoking will get you sooner than you think!

by Dr. Srivatsa Lokeshwaran

“But I only smoked a pack a day,” said the 30 something industrious gentleman sitting across the doctor in the consultation room. He peered on through his glasses, hands tucked deep into his wife's warm and empathizing hands. He was quite shaken and in sweats. Hope was on the brink. The doctor sat there pensively, waiting for the next question while a paper on his desk read in bold black ink- Stage 4 Lung cancer."Are you telling me a single cigarette would kill me?" It seemed like everything was coming down on him. His head was a bag of storm thinking about everything from his two children to what lay ahead. Yes, there are about 7000 chemicals in a single cigarette. A 3-inch paper roll, masquerade as a leisure game, quietly tucked between your fingers is a time bomb. Yes, it certainly will kill you. All it takes is one of those chemicals to mutate and damage one single cell of your body. It then goes on multiplying for about 5 years before it's a 30-gram nodule that is detected on an x-ray, or worse, only on a CT scan. The question is do you want to toss a coin every time you inhale the next cigarette? The chances are, the coin might actually lie until it is too late for you to turn around and take a chance. Nearly 67% of the men and women who smoke succumb to smoking-related illness.

So, how can you stop this damage and collateral damage? The answer is simple but not necessarily easy for most of you. QUIT smoking.

It is evident that every 7 out of 10 smokers would want to quit. The problem is they don't know how or don't have the access to the right help. The benefits of quitting smoking are large and established facts.

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure drop to normal within 20 minutes after quitting.

  • By the second week, there is a drastic improvement in the function of your lungs. The risk of heart attack drops to half of that of smokers.

  • By 5 years your risk of cancer drops by half as compared to a smoker.

  • By 10 to 15 years your risk of lung cancer and heart disease will be back to that of a non-smoker.

Are they not good enough reasons to quit? But before you can enjoy these benefits, you have to have the determination to quit. If you still haven't found a good reason, put yourself in this young man's shoes. I don't think you would think twice as a sane and reasonable person. There is no bargaining here, only one way out!

If your ready to quit the Cold Turkey method is the best way. In other words, a complete abrupt quit and not a gradual cut down in the number of your daily cigarettes. For people who have failed the Cold Turkey way, there are other ways to help them quit. Nicotine chewing gums and patches are the most common among them. There are also some drugs that can help with the process. The medicines will definitely help you inch away from the habit.

If the craving is irresistible, remember the 4 Ds -delay, drink water, distract or take a deep breath. At Aster CMI's Pulmonology Department, we have conducted a few cessation programs for smokers who are trying to quit. We have had wonderful results with patients who had difficulty quitting and are now living smoke-free.

Don't waste a minute! If you ask me what is the best time to quit? The answer is NOW! Don't let another cigarette take off another 11 minutes of your life.

For the man who had the devastating diagnosis, the life ahead meant only one thing, go out there and shout his lungs out to stop this menace now! For the best thing, he could do is give his kids a cigarette-free world. So change before it gets you!

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