Overview of How the Body Recovers After Quitting Smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking and improve your health. The sooner you quit, the more you can lower your likelihood of developing cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Quitting Smoking Timeline

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), your body begins to recover within minutes after smoking your last cigarette.

Here are the positive changes that your body will experience within minutes, weeks, months, and years of giving up tobacco:

  • 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate will drop. Among the side effects of cigarette smoking are elevated blood pressure and increased heart rate. Both your blood pressure and heart rate will begin dropping to normal levels after 20 minutes of smoking your last stick.
  • 8 to 12 hours after quitting, there will be a significant decline in your blood carbon monoxide level. Carbon monoxide is the same hazardous fume that a car exhaust emits. It causes your heart rate to rise and leads to shortness of breath. If the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops, your blood oxygen increases.
  • 48 hours after quitting, you will notice an improvement in your sense of taste and smell. The nerve endings that smoking damaged will begin to grow again, which enhances your ability to taste and smell.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your risk of suffering a heart attack drops. Improved circulation, reduced blood pressure, normal heart rate, increased blood levels, and better lung function all contribute to a lower risk of heart attacks.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting, your breathing improves. You will experience less shortness of breath and cough less. You will also feel more energetic.
  • 1 year after quitting, your risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by half. Smoking is a significant contributor to poor heart health.
  • 5 years after quitting, your risk of suffering a stroke decreases. Depending on how much and how long you smoke and your general health, your risk of having a stroke may be the same with a person who has not smoked within 5 to 15 years of quitting.
  • 10 years after quitting, you have a lower risk of lung cancer. Your risk of developing and dying from lung malignancies will be similar to someone who has never smoked in their lifetime. Moreover, your overall risk of developing other cancers is significantly reduced.
  • 15 years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as someone who has never smoked. You will also have lower cholesterol, thinner blood (which lowers your risk of blood clots), and more normal blood pressure.

There are many other benefits of quitting smoking for good, including:

  • Reduces your risk of other cancers over time. These include certain cancers that arise in the stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, rectum, skin, and cervix.
  • Minimizes your risk of diabetes, stimulates your blood vessels to work better, and helps improve the functions of your lungs and heart.
  • Quitting smoking can add as much as 10 years to your life compared to if you continue smoking. Quitting before the age of 40, for example, reduces your risk of succumbing to smoking-related diseases by about 90 percent.
  • Healthier friends and family, since secondhand smoke is a leading cause of lung cancer, asthma, COPD, and many other diseases. Read 10 Adverse Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke for more information.

In general, quitting smoking at any age can give back many years of life that you would lose if you continue to harm your body — and the health of those around you — with tobacco.

Immediate Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Health benefits aside, here are some of the additional rewards of quitting smoking that you will notice right away:

  • Save more money. The average retail price of cigarettes in the United States is $6.65 per pack
  • Since your sense of smell and taste will return to normal, you may enjoy food and drinks better
  • Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing
  • Your clothes, hair, and breath smell better
  • You can have more quality time with your friends and family instead of constantly having to excuse yourself to smoke outside
  • Normal everyday activities, such as climbing stairs, will no longer leave you out of breath
  • Your sex life will improve since smoking increases men’s risk of erectile dysfunction and reduces women’s genital lubrication and orgasm frequency
  • Look younger, since the damaging effects of tobacco include premature wrinkling of the skin, gum disease, and tooth loss

Quitting Cigarettes vs. Quitting Vaping — What’s the Difference?

Vaping may seem less harmful when it comes to smoking. Though there is some truth to this, e-liquids or e-juices still contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals, many of which are present in regular cigarettes. Even some vapes and e-cigarettes that claim to be nicotine-free still contain the psychoactive ingredient.

In conclusion, although some evidence suggests that vaping may help people quit smoking, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved e-cigarettes as a replacement therapy or aid for smoking cessation.

The Bottom Line

Smoking can create a number of negative effects on your health, such as an increased risk of developing serious disorders like cancer, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. It can also lead to premature death. Therefore, even though quitting can be difficult, the benefits to your health are well worth it.

Find a Professional to Help You Quit

If you are ready but struggling to quit for good, your doctor can help you rid your life of tobacco. Your doctor can give you medications that may help you quit, or they can refer you to specialists in smoking cessation.

You can also get the help you need through the American Lung Association’s program, Freedom From Smoking, or dial 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get in contact with trained counselors in all states.

About New Hope Unlimited

Even though quitting smoking equips you with a shield to defend against lung cancer and other diseases, sometimes, the unpredictability of cancer can still strike you. If you or someone close to you received a cancer diagnosis, the doctors here at New Hope Medical Center specialize in comprehensive treatments that target cancer and foster healthy living during survivorship. Call us at 480-757-6573 to schedule a consultation.

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