Dr Anthony Cunliffe, National Lead GP Advisor for Macmillan Cancer Support, has over 13 years’ experience as a GP. He’s here to explain how smoking can be bad for your health, & the positive impact of giving up

How does smoking affect your health?

If you smoke, giving up is the best thing you can do for your health and wellness.

Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. It can cause, or dramatically increase, your risk of at least 15 different types of cancer. In fact, seven in 10 lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.

As well as cancer, smoking can also increase your risk of heart disease, lung disease, and osteoporosis.

The good news is that, no matter how long you’ve been a smoker, giving up smoking can reduce your risk of these health issues. So it’s never too late to try and stop smoking!

What signs & symptoms should I look out for if I'm worried about lung cancer?

Symptoms of lung cancer may include:

• A cough or hoarse voice for three weeks or more
• A change in a cough you’ve had for a long time
• Α chest infection that doesn’t get better, or repeated chest infections
• Feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason
• Coughing up blood
• Chest pain or shoulder pain that doesn’t get better
• Weight loss for no obvious reason
• Feeling extremely tired

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to get them checked by your GP as soon as possible. You can also call Macmillan’s Support Line on 0808 808 00 00*, speak to your local Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist, or schedule a virtual appointment here.

How does smoking affect cancer treatment?

If you’re having treatment for cancer, stopping smoking could help your treatment be more effective. You’re also likely to have fewer and less severe side effects from cancer treatment if you don’t smoke.

If you’ve had surgery, for example, your wound is likely to heal more quickly. Stopping smoking could also reduce the risk of cancer coming back after treatment.

If you’re preparing for cancer treatment, stopping smoking as soon as possible is a really good idea. We know it can be difficult to stop, but there’s lots of support available, so you don’t ever need to feel alone.

What are the benefits of stopping smoking?

As well as helping to reduce your risk of smoking-related cancers and other serious illnesses, giving up smoking can also:

• Increase your energy levels

• Improve your blood circulation

• Reduce your risk of a stroke
• Lower your blood pressure
• Help improve your breathing (or stop it from getting worse)
• Boost your immune system, as smoking can affect your immune system
• Increase energy levels and make breathing easier, which can also make exercising easier
• Improve your sense of taste and smell, as well as your appetite (hello, nutritional food!)

I'm interested in stopping smoking, what help & advice is there?

Deciding to give up smoking and wanting to succeed are key steps in becoming a non-smoker. Giving up smoking isn’t easy, so it’s important to get support. Friends and family can help, as well as your doctor or a Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist.

Research shows that people who use stop smoking services are more likely to succeed, compared to those who try to give up smoking on their own. Stop smoking services vary depending where you live, and some are available in selected Boots stores. You can find out where to access your local stop smoking service by visiting:

• NHS Smokefree in England

• Quit Your Way Scotland in Scotland
• Help Me Quit in Wales
• Want2stop in Northern Ireland

Your local Boots team can also advise where you can find your nearest stop smoking service. 

When it comes your smoke-free journey, NRT (nicotine replacement therapy), such as gums and patches may help kick the cravings. Find out more about NRT and how it works here.**

If you’re thinking of stopping smoking, speak to your GP or pharmacy team who’ll be able to explain what treatment options and support is available. They’ll also be able to answer any questions about the withdrawal side effects from nicotine.

If you’re currently undergoing treatment for cancer, seek advice on how patches may interact with radiotherapy treatment.


Macmillan cancer support

Boots & Macmillan are here to help

10 reasons to stop smoking

It’s quitting time! Stick with us to stub it out

*Calls to 0808 numbers are free from all landlines and mobiles from the UK

**Stop smoking aids. Requires willpower. Always read the label.

***Subject to avaliablility and clinician approval. Charges apply.