Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: tobacco | smoking | age

Is Smoking in Old Age Safer?

Thursday, 13 Dec 2012 05:48 PM


Question: My husband has taken up cigar smoking at age 65. He says that since he just started, he won’t smoke long enough to get cancer. I think he’s crazy and that smoking, no matter when you start, can give you cancer. Who’s right?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:

If cigar smoking had no other hazards, he might be statistically correct. But he is wrong and you are right to be concerned. I am continually amazed at the reasons people give for smoking, and this is certainly one to add to the collection of truly bad ones.

Tobacco smoking in any amount at any age — including passive exposure to secondhand smoke — is hazardous to your lungs, heart, circulation, and brain. Nicotine is an addictive and toxic agent that poses its own dangers beyond the cancer-causing agents your husband is starting to foolishly expose himself to. If he is smoking in your home, he is adversely affecting your health also, so put your foot down now.

The adverse effects of smoking are cumulative, and not only include lung and airway problems, but also colon and bladder malignancies, and cancers of the head and neck, to name only a few. Cigar smokers are no less likely to suffer these adverse effects than cigarette smokers.

Cellular damage from smoking starts immediately and becomes irreversible as scarring ensues. At 10 years (one pack a day) you have an increased risk for disability; at 20 years you have elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Does your husband really want to have an uncomfortable old age? He is headed in that direction at the moment without doubt.



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