When I first wrote about smoking and lymphedema back in 2011, I was fresh off a quit and feeling confident about it. A little too confident it turns out, because a year or so later I began smoking again in full force.

It continued like that for years: stopping and starting, swearing cigarettes off one week and desperately scrounging for old packs in my desk drawer the next. I felt helpless, and physically I felt absolutely awful.

Smoking is addictive, and if you’re a current or former smoker, you don’t need me to tell you that. You also don’t need me to tell you that smoking carries health risks — but how does it affect lymphedema, exactly?

Smoking and lymphedema

With the thousands of chemicals found in tobacco smoke, it’s no surprise that smoking affects almost every aspect of your health, including your lymphedema. Here are three such ways:

Resources to help you quit smoking

We can’t do much about having a chronic medical condition like lymphedema, but we can change our chronic smoking habit.

Quitting is tough though, and sometimes it takes a few tries to get it to stick. When you’re feeling ready, there are a ton of resources out there to help you do it successfully:

What helped me kick the habit

What began as a cigarette sneakily shared between friends after school developed over ten years into a pack-a-day habit for me, and I had reached a point where life without smoking seemed unimaginable: I didn’t know who I was without a cigarette, and quitting did not seem like an option.

After countless stops and starts over the years, I finally achieved a successful quit and have been smoke-free for almost two years. Here are some things that helped me get there:


Are you a current or former smoker? What helped you to quit?