Advice on World Cancer Day: Seek out support to help you quit smoking

Kick your smoking habit for good and reduce your cancer risk urges HELEN FORRISTAL, Director of Nursing, Marie Keating Foundation
Advice on World Cancer Day: Seek out support to help you quit smoking

Research shows that accessing smoking cessation services makes you twice as likely to quit for good.

MANY people began 2020 with the best intentions to make a change and be healthier in the coming year. A common resolution for many is to kick the habit and quit smoking.

The commitment and restraint needed to fulfill this pledge doesn’t come easily. But the reality is it could save your life.

Smoking causes 30% of cancers in Ireland and one in every two smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease. It is arguably the biggest decision and change you can make to ensure this decade is a healthier one than the last and it is something the Marie Keating Foundation is urging all smokers to do.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, with as many as 90% of lung cancer cases caused by smoking. While not the only cause, making the decision to quit can dramatically decrease your chances of getting lung cancer, which has the highest mortality rate of any cancer in Ireland.

Understand the early signs and symptoms

Listening to your body and taking note of any changes or signals it’s trying to send you is crucial in ensuring that if you do need treatment or support you are able to access it early. Like with all cancers, early detection and treatment dramatically increases survival rates and can improve your life significantly.

Common signs and symptoms linked to lung cancer are, a cough that lingers for more than three weeks, or that changes over time, a pain in the shoulders or chest that doesn’t go away or being short of breath. These can be tell-tale signs that there’s something going on in your body that isn’t right.

If you have any concerns, you should speak to you GP immediately.

Make your resolutions stick

The latest Healthy Ireland Survey found that 40% of current smokers have tried to quit during the past year, and 28% are either trying to quit or actively planning to do so.

No one is saying that quitting smoking is easy. It is one of the hardest habits to kick but with the right support and advice it can be easier. I would strongly recommend seeking support from free quit services and not to go ‘cold turkey’.

Research shows that accessing smoking cessation services makes you twice as likely to quit for good.

The HSE’s QUIT programme offers a personalised quit smoking plan for all who sign up, and also offers advice on how you can help the smokers in your life quit with ongoing support and even counselling if needed.

More information about the service visit, free text QUIT to 50100 or call 1800 201 203.

Looking ahead

Unfortunately, cancer isn’t going away. One in two people are now affected by it and the number of cases of cancer in Ireland each year is expected to almost double by 2040.

But we do have a role to play in helping to reduce our risk. With lifestyle changes to five areas of our health we can help prevent 40% of cancers; Not smoking, eating a healthy diet and being a healthy weight, being physically active, limiting the amount of alcohol we drink and avoiding exposure to the sun.

Access to new and innovative medicines will change how we treat some of the most devastating forms of cancer, but, as the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.

At the Marie Keating Foundation we are with men and women at every step of their cancer journey and we believe this starts with better awareness and a focus on not exposing yourself to unnecessary risks in the first place. What better time to start than now, not just a new year, but a new decade?

For more information on lung cancer and for tips on cancer prevention and reducing your risk visit

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