Rare for smokers not to have problems later in life

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DOCTOR’S ORDERS

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

A reader, Fred Pfleider, commented on this column’s subject, “Smoking and exercise is a deadly combination,” published on November 15.

I am 77 years old. I exercise regularly and vigorously. I have been smoking almost a pack a day since I was 12. Please explain to me why I have no health issues up to now. My wife and children have been exposed to my 2nd hand smoke and they have no health issues. I also know a number of people who smoke and have outlived their friends who did not smoke. My current circle of friends are all younger than me, don’t smoke, and all have health issues. I hope you give me a credible explanation.

With due respect, sir, how rigorous is your exercise? I am not replying to convince you to stop. This is a decision for you to choose. I will just share with you the plight of the 70 to 80-percent of people suffering from chronic effects of smoking.

I had a 90-year-old patient who lived till 95 smoking and stopped at 94 because he was on oxygen for a year already. His symptoms appeared when he was 92 – difficulty of breathing and chronic cough.


Aging is unique in every person.

The studies done on smoking and exercise are numerous, and there are of course, in statistics you may call, falling in the skew of the bell curve. Just like not all who drink softdrinks (soda) all the time get diabetes. I have a 95-year-old patient whose water is softdrinks daily. She’s just demented, not diabetic.

My point is, you are lucky at the moment to not experience all these things with your friends who have outlived their non-smoking counterparts. But, it will not stop us to remind everyone because I personally have managed a lot of patients in my practice who suffered difficulty of breathing, heart failure and ended up bedridden because of smoking.

I have seen younger people below 60 years old suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD and even died earlier because of heart failure or lung cancer. I have seen families selling their cherished possessions to support the medications of their relatives with COPD. I have seen children loaning money for their parents who need oxygen support.

As I always tell my patients, you may choose to continue smoking; it is really up to you. But it will not stop me from reminding you over and over again that when the lung starts to deteriorate because of age, it will be more difficult for you. While it is true that this combination is deadly, at the end of the day, only God really knows. But not reminding the public about these hazards is negligence for us physicians.

One body saved is more than a hundred who doesn’t want to quit (we respect personal choices). For those who have money to burn, this will not be your problem as early access to healthcare is not difficult.

Relax, sir, aging will come to us, maybe not today but it will. If you live up to 100 without difficulty of breathing, then congratulations, you are one of those who have successfully aged. Perhaps you and your friends belong to the 20 to 30 percent of the curve who will never experience difficulty of breathing due to smoking.

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