Smoking and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet

Smoking and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, smoking is the leading preventable cause of illness and death in the United States. Each year, more than 440,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking-related causes; tobacco use accounts for nearly one of every five adult deaths. Millions of Americans suffer chronic illnesses (such as cancer and heart disease) as a result of smoking. Tobacco in any form cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, clove cigarettes, or snuff is unsafe.

Despite its well-known hazards, tobacco use is still widespread in our society (Table 13.4). According to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 68.2 million Americans are tobacco users, including nearly 40% of college-age Americans. Thousands more join their ranks every day including an estimated 900 people under age 18.

Nicotine Addiction

Regular tobacco use, and especially cigarette smoking, is not just a habit but an addiction, involving physical dependence on the psychoactive drug nicotine. Addicted tobacco users must keep a steady amount of nicotine circulating in the blood and going to the brain, where the drug triggers the release of powerful chemical messengers and causes a wide

VITAL STATISTICS

DTs (delirium tremens) A state of confusion TERMS brought on by the reduction of alcohol intake in an alcohol addicted person; other symptoms are sweating, trembling, anxiety, hallucinations, and seizures. nicotine A poisonous, addictive substance found in tobacco and responsible for many of the effects of tobacco.

If that amount falls below a certain level, they experience withdrawal symptoms that can include cravings, insomnia, confusion, tremors, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle pains, headache, nausea, irritability, anger, and depression.

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Health Hazards of Cigarette Smoking

Cigarette smoking has negative effects on nearly every part of the body and increases the risk of many life-threatening diseases. Some of the many damaging chemicals in tobacco are carcinogens and cocarcinogens (agents that can combine with other chemicals to promote cancer). Others irritate the tissues of the respiratory system. Carbon monoxide, the deadly gas in automobile exhaust, is present in cigarette smoke in concentrations 400 times greater than the safety threshold set in workplaces. Low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes deliver just as dangerous a dose of these chemicals as regular cigarettes because smokers inhale more deeply and frequently.

The effects of nicotine on smokers vary, depending on the size of the dose and the smoker’s past smoking behavior.

Wellness Tip

Nicotine addiction can start within a few days of smoking and after just a few cigarettes. This means you can get hooked on nicotine much faster than you might think a good reason to avoid trying tobacco in the first place.

Drinking Behavior an

The responsible use of alcohol includes understanding your own attitudes and behaviors, managing your behavior, and encouraging responsible behavior in others.

Examine Your Attitudes and Behavior

• Consider your feelings about alcohol and drinking.

Do you care if alcohol is available at social activities? Do you consider it essential, or are you indifferent to its presence or absence? How do you feel about people who don’t drink?

• Consider where your attitudes toward drinking and alcohol come from. How was alcohol used in your family when you were growing up? How is it used or how do you think it is used on your campus? How is it portrayed in ads? In other words, what influences might be shaping your alcohol use?

• Consider your own drinking behavior. If you drink, what are your reasons? Is your drinking moderate and responsible? Or do you drink too much and experience negative consequences?

Drink Moderately and Responsibly

• Drink slowly and space your drinks. Sip your drinks and alternate them with nonalcoholic choices. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages to quench your thirst. Avoid drinks made with carbonated mixers. Watch your drinks being poured or mixed so that you can be sure of what you’re drinking.

• Eat before and while drinking. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Food in your stomach will slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed and thus often lower the peak BAC.

• Know your limits and your drinks. Learn how different BACs affect you and how to keep your BAC under control.

• Be aware of the setting. In dangerous situations, such as driving, abstinence is the only appropriate choice.

• Use designated drivers. Arrange car-pools to and from parties or events where alcohol will be served. Rotate the responsibility for acting as a designated driver.

• Learn to enjoy activities without alcohol. If you can have fun without drinking, you may have a problem with alcohol.

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