Over 15 out of every 100 American adults currently smoke cigarettes, and 18 million are living with a disease related to smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Smoking is also the #1 cause of preventable diseases and death, leading to about one in five deaths each year.
Clearly, smoking doesn’t do any favors for your chances of living a long and healthy life. So with the Great American Smokeout today, our post is all about the biggest health benefits of quitting smoking (or never starting to smoke).
The Huge Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Here’s what happens when you quit smoking.
1. Decreased Risk of Heart Issues
Smoking is the primary cause of heart disease and heart attacks. Here’s why:
- The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke decreases how much oxygen is in your blood, making your heart work harder than it should.
- Smoking damages your artery linings, contributing to fatty build up that narrows the artery and can cause a stroke or heart attack.
- Nicotine increases your adrenaline, which raises your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.
So, quitting is the #1 best thing you can do to protect your heart. And it can have almost immediate positive effects on your risk:
- 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your blood pressure and pulse rate can return to normal.
- Within just 24 hours of quitting, your overall risk of heart disease can decline—and heart attack risk drops between two weeks to three months.
- 5-15 years after you stop smoking, your risk of stroke can decrease to same as a non-smoker, and risk of coronary heart disease can equal that of a non-smoker by 15 years.
- Your blood will become thinner and your heart won’t have to work so hard. Plus, it will decrease the amount of fats and cholesterol moving around your blood, slowing any further fatty buildup in your arteries.
2. Better Breathing and a Halt to Lung Damage
Smoking can cause permanent damage and scarring to the fragile air sacs of your lungs. This is known as emphysema, and it’s an incurable disease that causes breathlessness. Quitting as soon as possible can help save you from dealing with this terrible condition for the rest of your life.
But even if you’ve been smoking for many years, the benefits of quitting smoking now can help you breathe better and improve the function of your cilia. The cilia are hair-like structures on your windpipe that keep your airways clear and make it easier to fight off colds and infections.
3. Healthier DNA and Less Cancer Risk
Quitting smoking today is one of the best ways to lower your cancer risk. Plus, quitting can save your DNA from smoking-related damage, and may even help repair damage that’s already done.
By 10 years after quitting:
- Risk of lung cancer is 30-50% (and risk of dying from it is almost half) compared to a continuing smoker .
- Esophageal, throat, mouth, and pancreas cancer risks decline.
- Risk of diabetes is very close to that of someone who has never smoked .
By 20 years after quitting:
- Pancreatic cancer risk has decreased to same as a never-smoker .
- In females, risk of dying from lung disease, cancer, and all smoking-related issues is same as a never-smoker .
4. Your Body Can Heal Better
The benefits of quitting smoking also include better blood flow to injuries and healthier white blood cell counts, helping your body heal better and defend against disease.
5. Re-Wired Brain
After about 21 days of quitting, the nicotine receptors in your brain return to normal, literally rewiring your brain to help stop the addiction cycle .
Benefits of Quitting Smoking: Better Overall Quality of Life
Quitting smoking is one of the absolute best choices you can make to reduce your risk of many diseases, improve your quality of life, and get as much as you can out of this life.
Are you ready to quit for your health? If you need help, these CDC quitting resources can help.