The Risk of Smoking with Lymphoedema

Every cigarette you smoke, you are increasing your chance of getting cancer. Smoking accounts for nearly 80,000 deaths in the UK each year. Sadly, one in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. 

The Risk of Smoking with Lymphoedema

Smoking is addictive and quitting the habit is tough. People smoke for several reasons like stress relief, pleasure or social situations. The main addictive substance is the nicotine and it reaches your brain within 10 seconds. This causes the brain to release adrenaline and that creates a rush of pleasure and energy. This is short-lived so you may want another cigarette soon after.

Smoking affects blood circulation and may affect the skin, which is already damaged by lymphoedema. It can be extremely stressful having lymphoedema and even though we can only manage this chronic condition, we can change our smoking habit and within time quit smoking completely. Stopping has many health benefits and can reduce your risk of other diseases, such as heart disease, strokes, and smoking-related cancers. And you will save money!

How does smoking affect my lymphoedema?

Immune System

Smoking disrupts the lymphatic function, an important part of the body's immune system and this can weaken your body's immune response. This, in turn, can make you more susceptible to infections, and fighting against them very difficult.

Increased inflammation

Studies have shown a connection between smoking and inflammation, which can create increase tissue swelling in the body. This can cause further strain on the lymphatic system as it's responsible for tissue cleansing and fluid balance.

Skin

Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood circulating to your organs; skin being the largest organ. The toxins from each cigarette can cause your skin to age more quickly by reducing the levels of collagen in the skin and the ability to regenerate itself. Smoking is associated with thinner skin and impaired wound healing. This can be troublesome to people with lymphoedema as a break in the skin can lead to infection.

Where can you get help to quit smoking?

There is a range of resources out there that can help you stop smoking from advice websites, apps, your doctor, clinics, and nicotine replacement therapy.

  • Make a plan
  • Be realistic
  • It's okay if you slip-up, don't get discouraged, you can get back on track!

When you're ready to become smoke free, check these websites to help you on your journey to quit smoking:

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Claudia Lymphoedema patient

Claudia