November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
In the U.S., lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death and the second most common cancer in both men and women. More people die from lung cancer every year than from colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.
Unfortunately, while lung cancer screenings do exist, lung cancer is often fatal for those who are diagnosed with it.
Fortunately, however, there’s a way to dramatically lower the risk of ever being diagnosed with lung cancer — and that’s to quit smoking. (Note: Not all lung cancer diagnoses are linked to cigarette smoking, but smoking is still the number one risk factor for lung cancer.)
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Just in case any of you are new to the “Quit Smoking Spiel,” a brief overview: Quitting smoking leads to decreased risk of heart attack and blood clots, a stronger immune system, fat loss, clearer skin, better vision, prevention of long-term lung damage including emphysema and general scarring, lower cholesterol and lowered risk of developing lung cancer (along with so much else).
People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with or die from lung cancer than those who do not, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In addition, those who continue to smoke after a lung cancer diagnosis nearly double their risk of dying.
Five years after quitting smoking, your risk of developing various cancers of the mouth, nose and throat is cut in half. Ten years after quitting smoking, your risk of dying of lung cancer later in life is half that of someone who is still smoking.
Free Resources for Smoking Cessation
No one ever said quitting smoking was easy, pleasant or that it happens overnight (in fact, you may have to quit more than once), but the immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting are huge and will eventually feel so worth it.
If you’re ready to quit smoking, these free resources can help:
- Smokefree.gov is probably going to be your number one resource. The website helps you with every step along the way, from deciding on a quit date to staying smoke free for years to come. The site also features information and resources specific to women, teens, veterans, Spanish speakers and those over 60 who want to quit.
- If you’re overwhelmed and just need to start somewhere, check out Smokefree.gov’s free “Build My Quit Plan” tool that will help you take the first steps toward quitting and create a plan you can return to while you work toward staying smoke free.
- The site also has a whole page of free reading material and guides to help you quit smoking and stay quit, including downloadable resources for those at every age and in every stage of life.
- After the initial quitting process, you can return to SmokeFree.gov again and again for help with staying smoke free, slips and relapses, adjusting to life without cigarettes, healthy living and so much more.
- Contact your insurance provider to see if they offer nicotine replacement products at no cost to you. The methods found here are often covered by insurance companies.
- Many states offer free smoking cessation programs that provide you with free nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges (provided you are over 18 and it is medically appropriate). Google “your state” + “free nicotine patches” to find out more information about free nicotine services where you live. You can also find a list of states offering free nicotine replacement products here.
- If you need an accountability partner or group, BecomeAnEX offers a free program that allows you to connect with others who are trying to or who have successfully quit.
- If you’d rather talk to an expert, you can go here to find out how to contact counselors from the National Cancer Institute or from your state’s quitline. For anyone who would rather not talk on the phone, there’s also an option for connecting with an information specialist via an online chat.
- If you need a more frequent stream of support and tips, you can sign up for SmokefreeTXT, a free text messaging program that will deliver tips, advice and encouragement three to five times a day. You can even text keywords to the number to receive in-the-moment help.
- QuitGuide and quitSTART are free smartphone apps available on both Apple and Android devices. Both apps can help you track your habits and create a plan for quitting and staying smoke free. QuitSTART is geared toward teens who want help quitting smoking, but both apps can be used by anyone.
Listen: I know you’ve heard it all before. I know you know the risks.
But if you’ve thought about quitting, are ready to quit or have been trying to quit but just haven’t known where to start, this might be a good jumping off point.
Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.