Smoking and cancer
In Australia tobacco smoke is the cause of 16,610 cancer cases each year. In fact, tobacco smoke accounts for around half of the estimated preventable cancer deaths in Australia.
Did you know if you’ve had cancer, quitting smoking can help prevent it from coming back?
How smoking increases cancer risk
Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals including 69 that are carcinogens (known to cause cancer). When you inhale, these chemicals enter your lungs and spread through your body via blood and lymph systems. This can interrupt normal cell growth, causing cells to multiply too fast or develop abnormally, which can (and often does) result in cancer cells.
Exposure to second-hand smoke is a cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. When smokers expose non-smokers to second-hand smoke, they inhale many of the same cancer-causing chemicals that smokers inhale.
To find out your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Quiz.
Cancer Council recommendations
Quitting smoking or never starting is the best way to reduce your cancer risk. The body starts to repair itself within 6 hours of the last cigarette, and after 10 years the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Anyone can benefit from quitting smoking, including those who may have already developed smoking related health problems. By quitting, you also reduce the risk of those around you who may be exposed to your second-hand smoke.
Find out more about smoking and cancer prevention.
Tips to reduce your cancer risk:
- Visit iCanQuit.com.au or call the Quitline on 13 18 48 for more tips and support.
- Download the My QuitBuddy app to help you quit on your terms.
- Set a quit date and seek support from family and friends.
- Speak to your GP, use nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches or gum) or prescription medication to help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Avoid situations where you're tempted to smoke.
- Reward yourself.
- If you’ve had cancer, visit Life after cancer treatment to find out what support is available.