6,133,200 Reasons I'm Scared

I inhaled a lot of smoke before quitting cigarettes 14 years ago. My risk for lung cancer has dropped, but breakthrough work on CT scans could detect it early if it ever does develop.

This month I'm stepping back from the money matters you usually read about on this page to talk about something else dear to all of us: our health. I calculate that I inhaled cigarette smoke 6,133,200 times before quitting 14 years ago. Amazing that I'm alive, isn't it? It came as no surprise to be told by Jim Mulshine, a physician and lung-cancer researcher, that my odds of contracting this disease plummeted when I quit smoking but will always be above average. "And by the time my cancer is seen on an x-ray," I replied, "my goose is cooked, right?" Maybe not, he replied.

Early warning

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Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance