For Your Health - Quit Smoking

Quit for Your Health

Thousands of Iowans experience health problems caused by smoking. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes overall health. It causes heart disease, stroke, lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema, osteoporosis, and cataracts. 

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause an estimated average of 480,000 premature deaths annually among Americans 35 years of age and older1

Smoking changes the brain. According to recent research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nicotine addiction caused by smoking produces long-lasting chemical changes in the brain similar to changes that take place when someone uses drugs like heroine or cocaine – more evidence of the addictive, destructive nature of nicotine. 

It’s not too late to reverse the effects of smoking. An overwhelming amount of damage to your health can be reversed by quitting. Studies have shown that quitting at around age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%. If you quit at around age 50, you reduce the risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke. Even those who quit at around age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.

Not only that but you’ll experience immediate health benefits from being a nonsmoker – as quickly as 20 minutes after you quit.

What Happens When You Quit

  • Immediately after quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure, which is abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal. 
  • Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide, which reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, begins to decline.
  • Within a few weeks, circulation improves, you don’t produce as much phlegm, and you don’t cough or wheeze as often. 
  • The workload on the heart is decreased and cardiac function is improved.
  • Food tastes better, and your sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath. 
  • Within several months of quitting, you experience significant improvements in lung function.
  • In one year, your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke is halved. 
  • In five years, many kinds of cancer, including lung, larynx, mouth, stomach, cervix, bladder, show decline in risk, and that decline approaches the risk of someone who has never smoked.
  • Within 10 to 15 years, risk of lung disease, including bronchitis and emphysema, are decreased. 
  • Conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, thyroid conditions, hearing loss, dementia, and osteoporosis are positively affected.
  • Nerve endings in the mouth and nose begin to regenerate, improving taste and smell.
  • Medications may work better, enabling some to be taken in decreased doses.
  • If you’re taking birth control pills, quitting smoking will decrease your chance of heart attack and stroke due to clotting. 
  • You’ll have decreased risk for impotence and infertility. 
  • If you’re pregnant, you’ll protect your unborn child from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and low birth weight.
  • Years will be added to your life: people who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness. 


Reference:

1 The Health Consequences of Smoking  - 50 Years of Progress, A Report of the Surgeon General (https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf)