AS March 8th marks ‘No Smoking Day,’ health officials throughout mid and south Essex are urging smokers to never give up on giving up. From reducing the risk of at least 16 cancers, stroke, COPD & dementia, a smoker’s health improves from the moment of quitting.
The warning comes as recent medical research shows stopping smoking can improve brain health and reduce the chance of dementia, the most feared condition among people aged 55 and over – more than any other life-threatening disease, including cancer and diabetes.
Alarmingly, only 18 percent of smokers believe smoking causes dementia, compared to more than 70 percent who know it causes lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases.
Almost 2,400 Essex residents die every year from smoking-related diseases, and some 1300 Essex children started smoking in the last six months*.
Essex GP, Dr Anna Davey, says: “While it’s never too late to make positive health changes, keeping the heart pumping efficiently in your forties and fifties is particularly important for helping to reduce the risk of dementia.
“The same chemicals which cause damage to the heart also cause damage to the brain.”
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, up to four in ten cases of dementia could be linked to health, lifestyle and environmental risk factors. They include the two most common forms of dementia – Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia – both have been linked to vascular system problems, i.e. the heart and blood vessels.
WHO estimates 14 percent of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide are potentially attributable to smoking.
“Support from local stop smoking services gives the best chance of success,” adds Dr Davey, “and GPs and community pharmacies can also offer advice and tips to help smokers quit, especially as the cost of living crisis is exacerbating the issue as, on average, smokers spend £47 a week on tobacco, that’s nearly £2,500 a year to spend on other things once you’ve quit.
Smokers keen to quit the habit should take the first step on that journey on or before No Smoking Day on March 8 by visiting: www.nhs.uk/betterhealth/quit-smoking/.