As the month of October draws to a close, there are so many health-related observances we didn’t have a chance to write about but need to mention.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds everyone to check for unusual lumps in the breasts. Cancer not only forms in the lobules and ducts of the breast, but in the fatty tissue or fibrous connective tissue within the breast, as well as lymph nodes under the arms. It affects both women and men. Your risk for developing breast cancer increases with age, but it is not unusual for young women to develop this disease. Check out this link for risk factors and symptoms. If you are a smoker, you have a higher risk of breast cancer, and smoking can increase complications from treatment. The best thing you can do if you are a smoker, no matter how long you have smoked, is quit. Quitting will improve healing, and increase the effectiveness of treatment.
October is also National Dental Hygiene Month and a great time to talk about the importance of good oral health which is more than just brushing your teeth. As we get older issues with our mouth can impact our overall health. The use of tobacco not only stains your teeth, it damages your gums, makes tartar build up more quickly on your teeth, and affects the blood vessels which delays healing when having dental surgery. Tobacco use of any type will increase your risk of oral cancer. If you notice a sore in your mouth that doesn’t get better, have pain or tenderness in the mouth or lips, have a lump or color changes, or have difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, you need to make an appointment with your dentist to have these issues checked. And while e-cigarette users believe vaping is safer than cigarettes, toxic ingredients in the e-liquid may produce ulcerations and stomatitis that look like dark colored “pin pricks.” It can also dry out your mouth and cause tooth decay. There really is no safe form of tobacco, including vaping.
Another observance this month was Mental Illness Awareness Week. You might wonder what tobacco has to do with mental illness, but it has been found that adults with mental illness smoke more cigarettes than adults smokers without mental illness, according to the CDC. Nicotine affects your mood and can “temporarily mask the negative symptoms of mental illness,” and can affect the effectiveness of medications.
Bone and Joint Health National Action Week was also this month. We often think of weak bones as something women suffer, but smoking increases your risk of developing osteoporosis whether you are male or female. “Elderly smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to break their hips versus non-smoking adults.” Smoking harms your bones in a number of ways including decreased calcium absorption from your diet, and breaking down estrogen which is needed “to build and maintain a strong skeleton in women and men.” Smokers will also be more likely to suffer from sprains or fractures, and suffer from “overuse injuries, such as bursitis or tendonitis. And fractures, sprains and other injuries take longer to heal in smokers, and smokers have a higher rate of complications after surgery.
We don’t often think of all the diseases and health-related effects from smoking. but the above are just a few. There is just nothing good about tobacco and nicotine use.