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Cancer Prevention Tip 1: Don’t Use Tobacco

Feb 16, 2022
Man taking a deep breath out in nature

Updated February 2022

For Cancer Prevention Month, we’re highlighting 5 behaviors that prevent approximately 50 percent of cancers.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. About 90% of lung cancer deaths among men and 80% among women are attributed to smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of throat, mouth, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, and several other types of cancer.

Some smokeless tobacco products increase a person’s risk of developing cancers in the mouth, throat, tongue, pancreas, and esophagus. Smokeless tobacco products can also scratch teeth, wear away enamel, cause mouth sores, and permanently damage gums.

Quitting smoking can help reverse some damage smoking does to your body. It takes about seven attempts to quit tobacco. Remember, you are more likely quit tobacco with each try. Practice the 5 Ds to help you quit:

  • Drink: Every time you feel the urge to smoke, drink a glass of water.
  • Distract: Get your mind off tobacco. Try to stay busy. Pull out a puzzle, play games on your phone, or go for a walk.
  • Deep breath: Instead of filling your lungs with smoke, fill them with air. "Complete a square with your breath"—inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds.
  • Delay: When you feel an urge, consider putting a timer on for 5 minutes. You may not want to smoke when the timer is up.
  • Discuss: When you are having cravings, talk to your family and friends. If you don’t have anyone around, write down your feelings.

Learn more about quitting tobacco.