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Smoking Cessation


A Guide to Decembeard

Posted Thursday 01 December 2016 14:03 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

decembeardFirst there was Movember, now Decembeard. Yes, it appears that all manner of facial hair is taking on one of the biggest killers – cancer. Raising awareness about the different types of cancer is a vital part of moving society towards both early diagnosis and, we hope, a cure.

As Decembeard is now upon us, we thought we’d explain this next facial hair frenzy, this time raising awareness for bowel cancer, and provide an essential guide to how you can get involved and why it is a cause worth fighting for.

About Decembeard

An initiative launched by Beating Bowel Cancer, a charity that provides practical and emotional help to everyone affected by bowel cancer, Decembeard encourages all who get involved to grow a beard during December to show their support and in turn raise awareness and funds. Bowel cancer is this country’s second largest cancer killer and someone loses their life to the disease every 30 minutes. The lack of awareness around the disease’s signs and symptoms means that unfortunately this statistic isn’t set to get any less shocking, but thanks to Beating Bowel Cancer and Decembeard everyone can do their part in turning this around.

Bowel cancer is diagnosed every 15 minutes in the UK, and if diagnosed at an early stage 9 out of 10 cases can be treated successfully. Growing a beard during Decembeard, or supporting someone who is, ensures that the message about bowel cancer symptoms can be spread further and the funds that are so essential to Beating Bowel Cancer as the UK’s only nurse-led specialist helpline for the disease can be raised.

Spotting bowel cancer

Seeking help or advice from a medical professional as early as possible is the key to treating most forms of cancer successfully, and the same is true with bowel cancer. Many of the symptoms associated with bowel cancer however are often written off as the signs of other, less serious ailments but if the following symptoms do persist for up to three weeks then seeing your GP is important.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the anus
  • Blood present in stools
  • Changing bowel habits
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • A lump in the tummy

Lowering your risk

According to the NHS, approximately 1 in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer. High risk individuals include those over 60 years of age and individuals with a family history of the disease, however diets that are high in red or processed meat, obesity and high alcohol consumption have been linked to the development of bowel cancer. Choosing a diet that is high in fibre and low in red and processed meats, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and increasing physical activity are just some of the ways to lower your risk of bowel cancer.

Smoking is also linked to many cancers, including bowel cancer, so taking steps towards a smoke-free, healthier lifestyle is highly recommended. At Express Pharmacy, we stock stop smoking treatment, Champix, a medication proven to increase the chances of quitting, relieve cravings and reduce the body’s dependency on nicotine.

Get involved

Getting involved in Decembeard couldn’t be easier, and a number of famous faces, including rugby legend Ben Cohen MBE, football legend George Cohen MBE, actor Stephen Mangan, SAS: Who Dares Wins stars Foxy and Ollie, and director Kay Mellor, are leading the way. Sign up to fundraise via the Decembeard website and access countless fundraising ideas, downloadable resources and inspirational real stories.


It's Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month This November. Take This Opportunity to Learn About the Effects, Symptoms and Causes of the Disease

Posted Monday 14 November 2016 21:54 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month has returned this November with its “Turn it Purple” campaign. While raising awareness is a year round mission for charities such as Pancreatic Cancer Action, November is the month when a light is shone firmly on a disease that sees 9,000 new people diagnosed each year, with a remaining life expectancy of just three to six months on average.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at some of the early symptoms that, if caught, could help to save lives, and some of the preventative measures that can be taken to avoid such an aggressive disease.

What is the pancreas and what does it do?

The pancreas is an organ that plays a vital role in breaking down food by releasing enzymes into the small intestine. The 6-inch long organ also produces hormones such as insulin and glucagon, designed to control blood sugar levels and help the body to use and store energy effectively.

There are two main types of malignant tumour responsible for pancreatic cancer. These are exocrine tumours – accounting for an estimated 90% of sufferers – and endocrine tumours.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease and is particularly difficult to diagnose early because the symptoms can be hard to spot. However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Low mood or depression can be one symptom attributed to pancreatic cancer, as can fatigue and pain during eating. Some of the most common symptoms include indigestion that you can’t get rid of, mid back pain or upper abdominal pain, pale and smelly stools, or painless jaundice.

Causes of pancreatic cancer

While pancreatic cancer can affect almost anyone, it is has been closely linked to ageing, smoking and obesity, as well as a family history of the disease. The most significant risk factor for pancreatic cancer is almost certainly age. From the age of 50 onwards, cases of pancreatic cancer rise sharply, with the average age of sufferers estimated to be 72.

While very little can be done to hold back the effects of ages, the next most common contributing factor can be tackled. Smoking accounts for a third of pancreatic cancer cases and is, in fact, the only confirmed environmental cause of the disease according to research.

To put the risk of smoking into context, a 2006 study looking at the risk of smokers vs non smokers placed the increased risk caused by smoking at 74%. While this is tough news to take for those who have been addicted to smoking for some time, it is important to note that quitting smoking at any point can significantly reduce the risk of dying from pancreatic cancer – and indeed many forms of cancer.

The benefits of kicking the habit increase the longer an individual continues to be smoke free, with some reports suggesting that just 5 years after quitting, the associated risk reduces to the same levels as those who have never smoked.

Of course, smoking is well known for its many risks and there are numerous other diseases and conditions closely linked to tobacco. If you are ready to kick the habit now, Express Pharmacy offers Champix – an effective nicotine-free smoking cessation treatment. Find out more about how Champix can help you kick the habit here.


What’s on This Stoptober

Posted Monday 03 October 2016 13:18 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

Every year, October sees thousands of people sign up to go smoke-free for just one month. For many people, that single month becomes the first of a cigarette-free future.

Thanks to initiatives like Stoptober and a growing awareness of the dangers of smoking, the number of people who smoke regularly is in steady decline. Similarly, the number of young people taking up the habit is decreasing.

If you are looking to kick the habit before the year is out, or want to support someone who is aiming to quit, here’s a guide to what is on this Stoptober.

Sign up online

Participating in Stoptober is as simple as binning the cigarettes for just one month. However, to get the most out of the experience, it’s well worth signing up on the NHS Stoptober website. When you sign up, you can receive daily emails from Stoptober to keep you motivated. Previous participants in Stoptober found this a particularly useful way to get the day off to a good start.

You can also download the Stoptober app, which is available for both Android and iOS users. Through the app, you can track how many days you’ve been smoke-free, calculate how much money you’ve saved and find a distraction to curb your cravings. If all that isn’t enough, you can distract yourself even further with a quick chat with the Stoptober Facebook Messenger bot! It’s also recommended to let your friends and family know that you’re taking part in Stoptober by sharing the event on social media. With your Facebook friends and Twitter followers keeping you accountable, you’re much more likely to persevere with the programme.

Stop smoking services

To help you quit this month, it might be worth paying a visit to your local stop smoking service. This involves completely free, one-to-one support from a trained healthcare professional. They can give you the tools you need to quit smoking for good — research suggests that you’re up to four times more likely to quit smoking with their help than you would be without. 9 out of 10 people who have used NHS stop smoking services would recommend it as an excellent way to quit smoking. You can search online for your local stop smoking service, so why not drop in this October?

Stop smoking medicine

Another way to quit smoking, recommended by the NHS, is by using stop smoking medicines. If you’ve unsuccessfully tried to stop smoking before, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the agonising withdrawal symptoms, which cause many people to pick up a pack of cigarettes again. This is because your body is craving the nicotine in cigarettes.

There are a number of different treatments on the market to replace nicotine, such as patches, lozenges and gum but there are also nicotine-free medications available, such as Champix. A prescription is required for Champix, which can be applied for quickly on our website by using the online consultation form.

For more information on Stoptober events going on in your area, visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou/stoptober/home or to speak to a member of the Express Pharmacy team about the best way to tackle your addiction, try our Live Chat tool.


5 Things You May Notice Once You Stop Smoking for Good

Posted Monday 22 August 2016 20:42 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

quit smokingThe evidence in favour of quitting smoking is now stronger than it ever has been. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that quitting smoking is a bad idea. But we can all agree that it’s a difficult step to take.

Have a read of our list of things you might discover when you finally kick the habit and see if it can motivate you to take that first step.

1.You’ll feel the effects sooner than you think

Surprisingly, the effects of quitting smoking can be felt as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette. In fact, a lot can change in your body in just 72 hours after making the decision to quit. The increased heart rate which comes as a result of the nicotine high will return to normal after 20 minutes, and within a couple of days the nicotine has completely left your body.

The levels of carbon monoxide in the blood reduce by more than half within eight hours and return to zero within two days. This is also when the first wave of withdrawal symptoms begin to hit – but rest assured in the knowledge that the uncomfortable sensations of nausea and a headache mean that your body is getting rid of all the smoke-related toxins.

2.Food will taste better

One side effect of smoking cigarettes is that it can wear down the nerve endings in your nose and mouth, greatly reducing your ability to smell and taste things. However, quitting smoking gives the nerve endings the chance to grow back – meaning you’ll be able to appreciate your food and drink again as soon as two days after your last cigarette.

3.You’ll breathe easier

We all know that smoking hits the lungs hard. Those gruesome photos of blackened smokers’ lungs on cigarette packets leave little to the imagination. But you will be pleased to know that quitting smoking can reverse this process and, in the majority of instances, the damage is not permanent.

Within a couple of weeks, as your blood circulation and heart function improves, you’ll be able to exercise again. Not only does this have myriad benefits for your entire body, it keeps the lungs working to deliver oxygen around the body. Your lung capacity can increase by up to 30% in the first 6 to 9 months after quitting smoking, which will make a huge difference to how you feel. Breathing will become much easier as your overall lung function increases by 10%.

4.You’ll have more spare cash

Quitting smoking will also stop you from burning a hole in your pocket – literally. The NHS estimates that, if the average person smokes 13 cigarettes a day, quitting smoking can leave you £141 better off each month. That’s £1,696 a year! Money has been tight for many of us in recent years, so stopping smoking is a brilliantly simple way to find yourself a lot of extra cash.

5.You’ll feel as if you never smoked at all

You may be shocked to discover that a lot of the damage done by smoking is almost entirely reversible. It takes a long time after quitting, but many of the increased health risks associated with smoking can return to the same levels as in someone who has never smoked in their life. Ten years after you quit smoking, for example, your risk of dying of lung cancer is half that of a regular smoker. Fifteen years after you quit, your risk of getting heart disease is the same as someone who has never smoked at all.

The same can be said for other cardiovascular issues such as arrhythmia. Studies have also suggested that the age at which you quit smoking can play a big part in cutting disease risk, with those who quit smoking before they were 30 having the same mortality risks down the line as someone who had never smoked a single cigarette.

Whilst quitting smoking is no doubt a difficult task, there are a number of aids available to help you quit. From nicotine replacement therapies to hypnotherapy to vaping, going cold turkey to using medications such as Champix, there has never been such an array of options for people keen to kick the habit. If you want to make the change this year – why not get in touch with our experienced quit smoking experts through the Live Chat function on your screen today.


To Vape or Not to Vape?

Posted Thursday 16 June 2016 11:23 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

There's been a shift in trends and habits over the last ten years when it comes to smoking cessation. In years gone by, those wishing to throw away their cigarettes for life would traditionally reach for nicotine replacement therapies and nicotine gums. But today, many thousands of people wishing to kick the habit are buying e-cigarettes instead.

In fact, the rate at which smokers are turning to vaping is quite staggering. An estimated 2.6 million adults use e-cigarettes in the UK alone today and sales have increased rapidly since vaping was first introduced to the country less than 10 years ago. In 2013, sales of e-cigarettes stood at £44 million, but by 2014 this had become £193 million.

Of course, the question that health professionals are asked increasingly is, Should we consider vaping to be a healthy, effective way to give up smoking? The honest answer is that we don not yet know the full story. Research into the benefits and risks of vaping is still in its infancy. However, the early signs are that it can be an effective way to ween people off cigarettes and, in doing so, reduces consumption of the carcinogens and harmful ingredients within them.

What e-cigarettes does not do is reduce dependence on nicotine. Nicotine may not be the most harmful of the various substances that go into the average cigarette, but experts differ in their opinions on whether a reliance on nicotine is damaging in its own right.

For those advocates of vaping as the less of two evils and a relatively harmless pastime, there has been a strong case made for the use of electronic cigarettes within the NHS as a way of helping people to quit smoking. Others however believe that, due to the newness of the technology, we should proceed with caution before hailing e-cigarettes as the solution. They argue that we are not yet sure of the side-effects and the ways vaping could potentially be detrimental to health.

The jury is still out on vaping, and it could be a while until a more unanimous decision is reached as to whether it is a genuinely beneficial practice or a new, albeit improved, danger to public health. For those who are still unsure about e-cigarettes but still want to quit smoking, there are other tried and tested methods of smoking cessation available.

Nicotine replacement therapies such as patches are still a popular aid to quitting. However, one of the most effective treatments to help kick the habit is Champix. Designed specifically to help aid smoking cessation, Champix (also known as Varenicline) mimics the effects of nicotine in the body, reducing both the urge to smoke and the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting – also known as 'going cold turkey'.

Taking the decision to stop smoking can be the first step on a road to a healthier future. But we understand that it is not always easy to quit. If you would like more advice or support in kicking the habit, why not speak to one of our trained pharmacists today about the best way to quit smoking for you? Call 0208 123 0703.