Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month – Life After Smoking


November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign designed to help raise awareness of one of the UK’s most common cancer types. Lung cancer is one of the most serious types of cancer – with just 5% of those diagnosed surviving for 10 years after diagnosis. The most startling fact about lung cancer is that 89% of cases are preventable, and this is done through making healthy lifestyle choices.


Lung cancer and its causes

Lung cancer is known for being one of the most deadly cancers in the UK. In 2013, there were 45,525 new cases of lung cancer, with 35,895 people dying from the disease in 2014. Smoking is certainly the biggest cause of lung cancer, whilst other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, cigars and pipe tobacco also have an effect. Those who smoke cannabis (whether mixed with tobacco or not) are also at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, whilst passive smoking and exposure to certain chemicals can also increase the risk.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month aims to highlight the preventable causes of lung cancer in a bid to reduce the number of deaths each year. Right off the back of Stoptober, Lung Cancer Awareness Month can offer many a huge wake up call to the thousands of deaths from lung cancer each year.


Boosting your health after smoking

If you’ve decided to give up smoking – you’ve taken a step in the right direction. Whilst you will experience rapid improvement in your health following your decision to quit, there are other things you can do to help improve your health after successfully quitting the cigarettes.

Maintain a healthy diet

One of the reasons why many people continue to smoke is that they are concerned about weight gain after quitting smoking. However, like quitting itself, weight gain can be about willpower, and you’ll need to demonstrate strong willpower in order to avoid putting on weight. Taking steps to plan your meals out to avoid the temptation of fatty or sugary foods, filling your kitchen with healthy snacks and fruit and avoiding sugary drinks can help you to keep the pounds off and stop yourself from replacing your cigarette addiction with food.

Get exercising

Exercising is important for maintaining overall health, and particularly for boosting your cardiovascular health. It’s a well-known fact that smokers have an impaired lung capacity, causing shortness of breath as well as affecting blood flow around the body, meaning muscles aren’t getting the oxygen they need. Lung capacity improves quickly after smoking, and exercise can help to boost it further. Getting yourself healthy and exercising regularly will make your heart and lungs stronger, as well as providing a good distraction for when those cravings hit. The money you save from quitting is easily enough to cover a gym membership.

Start swimming

Swimming is a good way to further increase your lung capacity after you’ve given up smoking, and professional swimmers are known for having superior lung capacity over other athletes. Swimming is a gentle exercise for your joints and ideal if you suffer from aches and pains or if you’re overweight. Swimming just once a week can give your lungs an effective workout and improve your cardiovascular health.

Find distractions

Like many habits, smoking can be hard to shake, so it’s good to find distractions to take your mind off it. Taking up new hobbies such as learning a new language, crafts or even cookery are effective distractions and will give you something productive to focus on. Using your hands for a different activity is another way to help you forget about smoking too. The good thing about quitting smoking is that you will save yourself a lot of money over the course of the year, allowing you to spend money on other things that will enrich your life, rather than cut it short.

Boost your mood

Quitting smoking can have an effect on your mental health, leaving you feeling stressed or even depressed. It’s important to focus on boosting your mood as well as seek help from others if it becomes too much to deal with. Great ways to boost your mood include yoga and meditation, staying active and even simply adding more structure to your life. Why not think back to the last thing you did that you really enjoyed (besides smoking!) and see if you can make it into your new hobby. Activities which can take your mind off everyday stresses will be good mood-boosting tools for times when you’re feeling low.

Practice safe sex

One of the after-effects of quitting smoking is an improvement in sex life. Smoking affects blood flow, which can affect sexual performance and enjoyment, but these will improve after you quit. It’s also important that you remember to practice safe sex and always use protection – you may want to book regular checks if you suspect you may have contracted an STD.


Further information about lung cancer awareness month

If you’re looking to give up smoking, the right attitude and advice can help you get there. NHS Choices features many useful resources to help you look forward to a healthier, happier lifestyle once you successfully quit. Those who have successfully quit may wish to get involved with Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation offers a number of ways to fundraise including putting up posters, organising awareness days in the workplace and sharing infographics on social media. Click here for a full list of things you can do to get involved.