Smoking is one of the largest breast cancer risk factors, so we hope everyone will participate in Thursday’s annual Great American Smokeout! For 37 years, the American Cancer Society has encouraged smokers across the country to give up their unhealthy habit on the third Thursday of November.
What Is The Great American Smokeout?
The Great American Smokeout is both a national and a local event. Many communities use the highly-publicized day to stage their own local celebrations and support groups. This is precisely how the first smokeout began. In 1971, smokers in Randolph, Massachusetts gave up the money they would have spent on cigarettes for a day to begin a high school scholarship fund.
As awareness about the dangers of tobacco use grew, similar don’t-smoke-for-a-day movements spread in other small towns and communities. By 1976, the California branch of the American Cancer Society had latched onto the idea and saw nearly 1 million smokers give up their cigarettes on November 18 of that year.
This special day is a great time to encourage a loved one to give up smoking, and they can take comfort in knowing they certainly aren’t alone in their struggle!
Tobacco & Breast Cancer
Quitting smoking for just one day may not sound like much, but it’s a first step towards avoiding one of our society’s most dangerous carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances. And while you might think of smoking as being linked only to lung cancer, tobacco use is one of the highest risk factors for breast cancer, too. This goes for smoking your own cigarettes, using smokeless tobacco, and even being exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.
Along with performing breast self-exams and maintaining a healthy diet, smoking cessation is one of the most important ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer—which is why it’s always covered in our breast health programs.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Quitting smoking is hard—no one debates that. For extra motivation, consider the benefits that will begin on the very first day you give up cigarettes:
- 20 minutes after quitting smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure start to drop.
- 2 hours after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure will decrease to almost-normal levels, and circulation starts to improve.
- 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal rates. Your blood oxygen levels increase to normal.
- 24 hours after you quit, your risk for heart attack will already have begun to drop.
(Source: George Washington University)
Of course, the benefits only continue to increase from there—including a reduced risk for breast cancer.
Are you planning on celebrating the Great American Smokeout? Tell us your plans in the comments below!