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Mom/Dad please, please read this column to your daughter.

It has always amazed me what people do to themselves willingly. Recently I heard a disturbing statistic on CBC radio concerning women that scared me: "Since 1988, lung cancer incidence in Canadian women has risen by 30%. Death rates have soared by 46%". Breast cancer rates have increased by 10%.

"In 2002,an estimated 8,800 women were diagnosed with lung cancer; 7,700 died of the disease."

I called Laura Wall, manager of the Canadian Cancer Elgin Middlesex Unit who kindly granted me an interview. Sadly, my ears had not failed me, Laura confirmed the wretched numbers. She tried to answer my questions, why we have the problems and how we can curtail the growth in Canadian women's cancer rates.

"Research now shows that women who started to smoke within their first five years of menstruation are 70% more likely to develop breast cancer. For the 80% of females who start smoking before the age of twenty their cancer rate is even greater than previously recognized."

The tobacco industry has duped our young women into believing that smoking is a "cool" pastime. Dragging on a cigarette is supposed to provide relaxation and of course a model thin body.

"Lung cancer is difficult to treat and the survival rate is low; the five year survival rate is less than 15%. Almost 90% of lung cancer is caused by tobacco use." Our women pay a heavy price for their addiction.

"In Ontario, smoking rates among teens 15-19 of age is 25%. This figure has remained steady over the past decade but what has changed is the percentage of young women versus young men. It has basically switched and 26% of teens smoking are female versus 20% of male teens."

"Pregnant women who smoke have a higher rate of miscarriages, (stillbirths), premature birth: more of their babies die soon after birth than those of non-smoking mothers."

I trust that you have seen enough of the stats? Many of these deaths are preventable. Laura told me of that the "solution to reducing the incidence of and death rates from lung cancer was in prevention." Mom and dad like it or no you are role models to your children: parent's who smoke set an example for their offspring. Our young people copy our behaviour, positive or negative.

The impact of the graphic images on the cigarette packaging informs smokers of the risk of smoking: 44% said the pictures increased their motivation to quit their habit."

The Canadian Cancer Society is very happy that the City of London implemented the by-law( PH-10) : public places, including hospitality sites and work places are noe smoke- free. Patrons and staff are now able to work and enjoy an evening out in a clean air environment.

"Health Canada figures estimate that every year, at least 330 non-smokers die of lung cancer due to exposure to second-hand smoke. Environmental tobacco smoke is the number one risk for lung cancer among non-smokers. Pre-menopausal women double the risk of breast cancer due to exposure to second hand smoke."

Education and prevention can help diminish the number of people inflicted with Cancer. Folks take a moment and talk to your daughter. Tell her you love her and warn her of the dire consequences of smoking.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com