How quitting smoking impacts your health

We all know that smoking is bad for our health. But did you know that smoking is actually the single most preventable cause of death among Americans?

Smoking impacts nearly every part of the body, and it’s a contributor to many serious medical conditions, including stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and even bone fractures.

The numbers are staggering:

  • Each year, smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths in the United States — that’s almost one in every five deaths.
  • More than 10 times as many Americans have died prematurely from smoking than the total number of Americans who have died in all the wars in U.S. history.
  • Smoking causes more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents and gunshot wounds combined.
  • Those who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer.

So if you or a loved one smoke, the best time to quit is now! And the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 17, presents the perfect opportunity.

Smoking cessation can be difficult, but there are a  variety of strategies to help you quit smoking. Check with your doctor to see whether smoking cessation aides might be right for you.

How your body benefits when you quit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a look at how your health improves once you quit:

  • 20 minutes after quitting — Your heart rate drops. This is important, because smokers have an increased heart rate, which forces the heart to work harder.
  • 12 hours after quitting — The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • Between 2 weeks and 3 months after quitting — Your lung function begins to improve, and your heart attack risk starts to drop.
  • Between 1 and 9 months after quitting — You’ll begin to experience less coughing and shortness of breath.
  • 1 years after quitting — Your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
  • Between 5 years and 15 years after quitting — Your risk of stroke matches that of someone who hasn’t smoked.
  • 10 years after quitting — Your risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker. Your risk of developing bladder, esophagus, kidney, mouth, pancreas and throat cancer decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting — Your risk of heart disease is now that of someone who hasn’t smoked.

There are many benefits to quitting smoking! Your doctor can help you create a smoking cessation strategy that’s right for you. Need a doctor? Find one here.