The health benefits of quitting smoking.

March 25, 2016

You know that the effects of smoking are bad for your body and you also know that the longer you smoke the worse it is for your body. What you may not know is how good it is for your body to stop smoking and that the longer you go without smoking the healthier your body becomes.

There are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting smoking. In fact some of the beneficial health changes occur within 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette while your risk of coronary heart disease is halved within a year of quitting smoking cigarettes.

Quit Smoking Timeline

The table below shows the beneficial health changes that take place over a quit smoking timeline.

Time since last cigarette Health change Health benefit
20 minutes Drop in heart rate & blood pressure Less strain on the heart and reduced risk of hypertension
12 hours Carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal Red blood cells are free to carry more oxygen around your body
48 hours Damaged nerve endings start to regrow Your sense of smell and taste start to improve
3 days The nicotine in your body has all been metabolised and excreted You are 100% nicotine free
2-12 weeks Circulation improves and your lung function increases You start to breathe easier and energy levels increase
1-9 months The cilia in the lungs regrow and start clearing accumulated  tar from the lungs Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease
1 year Your risk of coronary heart disease is about 50% that of a smoker’s Your chance of a heart attack is halved
5 years Your risk of having a stroke is reduced In 5-15 years your risk of a stroke is the same as a that of a non-smoker
10 years Your risk of lung, mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas cancers all decrease Your risk of lung cancer is about 50% less than that of a smoker
15 years Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker You are no longer at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke due to smoking
20 years Your risk of smoking related diseases is now the same as that of a non-smoker You are good as new!

Benefits of quitting smoking on sexual health.

Smoking impacts on sexual health and few people realise that when you quit smoking you reduce the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

Benefits of smoking cessation after a heart attack.

If you already suffer from a smoking-related disease or condition, you may think that the damage is already done why should I stop now? The fact is that people of all ages who have already developed smoking-related health problems can still benefit when they quit smoking.

In a study led by Dr Donna M Buchanan from the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, the research team investigated the health & quality of life benefits of stopping smoking on patients recovering from a heart attack. It was discovered that people who stop smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another heart attack by 50% and had lower levels of chest pain and a reduced risk of developing angina when compared to those that continued to smoke.

Thus, having a better quality of life after a myocardial infarction or heart attack, in addition to the well-known benefit of a lower risk of having a repeat heart attack or dying earlier, should motivate smokers to ditch the habit, say the researchers led by Dr Donna Buchanan.

Benefits of quitting smoking on life expectancy.

The health benefits of quitting smoking at age 30, in comparison with those who continue to smoke, translate into an average of an extra 10 years of life expectancy. This increase in life expectancy reduces over time but still potentially adds an extra 3 years to a smoker who at age 60 years decides to stop smoking.

Since there are many benefits why don’t more people quit smoking?

Research shows that three quarters of smokers would like to quit smoking and over one third of them go on to make a quit attempt each year. Unfortunately, only a small proportion, less than 5%, quit successfully. Quitting smoking is not easy and most smokers will make several attempts to quit before they are successful.

Smokers need help to stop smoking.

The best way to stop smoking is by using a combination of behaviour change techniques, face-to-face support and stop smoking products such as nicotine replacement therapy. Evidence from a Cochrane Review shows that this form of combination treatment triples your chances of successfully quitting smoking when compared to attempting “quit smoking cold turkey” on your own.

Tips to stop smoking

You can triple your chance of successfully quitting smoking by using a combination smoking cessation programme such as GoSmokeFree. E mail info@gosmokefree.co.za or phone 021 180 4490 for more information.

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