When questioned, many smokers readily admit they would like to quit. They know smoking is bad for their lungs. They know secondhand smoke is a hazard to their family. And yet, many are unsuccessful in kicking the habit. There always seem to be an elusive day in the future that will be the best day to go cold turkey. For now, a few more cigarettes won’t matter.
Here’s some health news from researchers at the Department of Preventive Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India: signs of oral cancer may be the only motivation a smoker needs to quit.
The researchers surmised with simple logic that smoking cessation would provide the most immediate benefits to prevent tobacco-related disease and mortality. So they conducted a tobacco cessation program involving individual and group behavior therapy. The quit-smoking program was implemented in three stages at a worksite.
Tobacco quit rates were assessed at the end of each of the three stages. Out of the 291 tobacco users identified, 224 participated in the tobacco cessation interventions. At the end of three interventions, 38 users — or 17% — had successfully quit tobacco use.
Of all the motivations offered as incentive to quit, the researchers found that one in particular stood out: the presence of clinical oral pre-cancer lesions. Tobacco users with signs of these pre-cancer lesions were around three times more likely to quit than those with no lesions.
It’s an unfortunate scenario of cancer acting as a motivating force to make positive change. The researchers’ health advice to smokers may very well be: don’t wait until you have cancer to quit.
Oral cancer, like most cancers, can be difficult to treat. It can be very unpleasant to have lesions in the mouth. There are also possible complications from radiation therapy, including dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, disfigurement of the face, head, and neck after surgery, and, of course, the spread of the cancer to other places.
If you’re a smoker or know a smoker, take advantage of all the smoking-cessation programs out there intended to help you kick the habit.
For more advice on quitting smoking, read the article Help Yourself Kick the Smoking Habit.