According to groundbreaking new research, smokers who quit tobacco smoking before age 40 years enjoy a lifespan just about as much as people who never smoked.
Smoking reduces your life by ten years, but if you quit before 40, you regain all the lost years.
Former smokers, however, continue to be at a risk of premature death, but the risk dies down significantly after quitting and remains small compared to the risk if you continued to smoke.
Quitting smoking or smoking cessation is the process of giving up the addictive habit of smoking. Here we talk about the habit of tobacco smoking. Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Most smokers want to stop smoking but few succeed and most don’t.
When you give up the smoking habit, it benefits your health immensely and over time these are seen and felt.
The risks of minor and major health conditions start receding and you even start feeling better, your appearance improves and you become more acceptable to your family and society. Your finances improve and you have more money to spare.
You eat better, you sleep well and your performance in bed improves. You feel you are a new and better person.
However, it is difficult to quit smoking because the nicotine in tobacco makes a smoker very addictive to it. The difference between success and failure is the motivating willpower to quit.
A recent survey concluded that 15 million smokers try to give up smoking every day and only 3% succeed to give it up – for 3 to 12 months. About 38 million people in the United States have successfully quit smoking and 3 out of 4 smokers do say that they would like to stop smoking.
Why should you quit smoking?
As mentioned above, to succeed in giving up smoking, it is necessary to be strongly motivated. For this, you could start by knowing certain adverse effects of smoking.
Besides the hole it unnecessarily burns in your pocket, effects of smoking are disastrous from head to toe — literally.
Benefits of giving up permanently are explained here in short. Smoking cessation becomes necessary when you realize that smoking adversely affects your health and leads to serious complications. Some major ones are described below.
- Brain: Smoking doubles your risk of stroke. It also reduces the brain function involved in cognition.
- Lungs: The habitual smoker invariably suffers from chronic bronchitis. He frequently suffers from cold and cough. Furthermore, he becomes a potential candidate for emphysema, bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The risk of lung cancer looms large. 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from COPD are due to smoking tobacco.
- Cancer: Tobacco smoke contains more than 50 carcinogens. Smoking can cause cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, and pancreas. The heavier the smoker, greater is the risk.
- Heart and the cardiovascular system: By its action on the arteries, smoking increases the load on the heart, which can lead to heart attack. By this same action, it can cause peripheral vascular disease and possibly gangrene in the peripheral parts of the extremities.
- Digestive system: The inhaled cigarette smoke that goes into the stomach inflames the gastric and esophageal lining. This can cause heartburn and GERD. It puts the smoker at a high risk of developing ulcers.
- Skin: Smoking causes the skin to wrinkle prematurely and makes it look sallow giving it an aged look.
- Reproductive system: Chronic smokers, both men, and women, suffer from fertility problems. Men develop erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, and reduced motility, while women find it difficult to conceive due to ovulation problems. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage.
And you involuntarily harm those around you such as your family members and colleagues who are exposed to your secondhand smoke and its dangers, which again increase their risk of serious health disorders.
When you give up smoking, it benefits not only you but also your loved ones. You should read the linked article above to know how your smoking harms other people who do not smoke.
Quitting smoking benefits and how they accrue? Timeline
Quitting smoking timeline simply tells you of the benefits of quitting smoking come about over progressive periods.
When you give up smoking, your health starts to benefit as early as 20 minutes after your last smoke. And with time, these benefits build up and the ill effects that smoking has caused on your health start to fade away. Following are benefits from quitting smoking period wise.
After 20 minutes
- Blood pressure and heart rate that were increased, start dropping.
- The body temperature starts increasing.
After 8 hours
- Oxygen levels in blood return to normal.
After 12 to 24 hours (1 day)
Carbon monoxide blood levels, which were increased drop to normal.
After 48 hours (2 days)
- Nerve endings start to regrow.
- Smell and taste sensations which were suppressed, come back to normal.
- Nicotine is eliminated from the body.
After 72 hours (3 days)
- The bronchi (airways) relax and breathing becomes more comfortable.
After one month
Within one month, the damaged lungs begin to improve. Lung capacity increases and so does stamina for aerobic activities such as running and swimming.
After 2 to 3 months
- Blood circulation improves
- Coughing and wheezing decrease
- Phlegm reduces
- Lung function further starts to improve.
4 to 9 months after quitting
- There is a progressive and significant improvement in lung function.
- The function of cilia (lining of airways) improves leading to decongestion of the chest.
- A cough and shortness of breath decrease significantly.
1 year after giving up
- Risk of ischemic heart disease ( heart attack, angina) reduces by 50%.
5 years after smoke-free breathing
- Risk of stroke reduces and is as much as that of a nonsmoker.
- Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and the bladder is reduced by 50%.
- Risk of cervical cancer is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
10 years after quitting
- The risk of cancer and ulcer drop significantly.
- However, the risk of lung cancer still stays higher than that of a non smoker.
After 15 years
- Risk of lung cancer decreases to that of a non smoker.
- Risk of heart disease and death equals that of a non smoker.
What to learn from all this?
Quitting smoking isn’t easy. The withdrawal symptoms after stopping make it difficult. But the benefits of giving up tobacco mentioned above are so great that overcoming the withdrawal manifestations with sheer stubbornness is not impossible.
As seen above, benefits start as early as 20 minutes after quitting and go on to accrue as late as 15 years after quitting.
These benefits are documented and a result of years of study and research. They are bona fide and should act as an immovable motivation to quit smoking.