Putting down your cigarette for good is no simple accomplishment. But understand this – within 12 hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal, and within two weeks, your lung function and circulation improve.
When you quit smoking, you can see immediate health benefits. And most importantly, you can enormously decrease your chances of cancer. Smoking is linked to most lung cancer deaths, along with contributing to stroke and heart diseases. Luckily, by quitting early, you can lower your risks, improve your health, and live longer. Although quitting smoking can be a challenge, the benefits for your lungs and other organs are worth it.
How Smoking Affects Your Lungs?
Smoking causes significant changes in your airways and lungs. While some changes are sudden, and short-lasting like colds, others like emphysema are more chronic and last a lifetime.
Smoking also destroys your lung tissue and thus, decreases the blood vessels and air spaces in the lungs, resulting in lesser oxygen being carried to vital parts of the body.
Quitting smoking helps to prevent emphysema, stop lung damage, and allows cilia (helps in keeping the airways clear of mucus and dirt) to regrow and regain normal function.
Other positives of quitting smoking:
1. Lungs are more able to self-clean and fight infection
2. There is a decrease in mucus, cough, shortness of breath within a month
3. Decrease in symptoms of asthma
4. Fewer lung infections and colds
5. Within five years, 50 percent less risk of pneumonia
6. Reduction of chronic bronchitis symptoms
7. Risk of lung cancer lowers within five years
Here are a few more reasons that will help you quit smoking for good:
Reduced Risk of Heart Attack And Stroke
If you smoke, your risk of:
1. Heart attack is 2x higher
2. Stroke is 3x higher
3. Angina is 20x higher
4. Peripheral Arterial Disease is 5x higher (Source: Heart Foundation)
However, just one year after quitting smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to half that of a smoker's. Furthermore, fifteen years later, the risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to that of a nonsmoker (Source: WHO).
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)
Lower Risk of Lung And Other Cancers
One of the major benefits of quitting smoking is lowering your risk of critical illnesses like cancer. Tobacco use and smoking have been linked to much more than lung cancer. Meaning, smoking increases the risk of cancers of the stomach, mouth, pancreas, throat, kidney esophagus, cervix, etc.
However, five years after you quit smoking, the risk of cancer of the esophagus, bladder mouth, and throat is cut by half. And ten years later, your risk of lung cancer is reduced to about half that of a smoker (Source: American Cancer Society).
‘Smoking interferes with sleep’ - this statement may come as a surprise to many, especially those who have the habit of “lighting up” before bed. However, these individuals don’t realize that nicotine rushes through their body, disrupting their sleep architecture, and leading to insomnia.
But, once you quit, your sleeping problems go away. Although you may experience some disturbed sleep in the initial months, you can make the transition a bit easier by following these tips:
1. Find other ways to relax like deep breathing exercises, yoga, or reading
2. Follow good sleep hygiene
3. Exercise regularly as it helps to reset your circadian clock
Whether you are in good health or bad, young or old, cigarette smoke can make you sick. Second-hand smoke can cause not only lung cancer but also respiratory tract infections in infants and can aggravate asthma symptoms. However, you and your family members can breathe easier when you quit.
Cheaper Term Insurance
The price that you pay for term insurance is linked to various risk factors, including health risks related to smoking. Therefore, higher premiums are charged to smokers by insurance companies than compared to non-smokers.
But, this must not deter you from purchasing term insurance as smokers are more prone to lifestyle diseases like cancer, strokes, and heart diseases than non-smokers. In such an event, term insurance can provide sufficient coverage to the surviving members allowing them to take care of their everyday needs and future goals in your absence.
A smoker must likewise insure himself against critical illnesses which could arise as a result of his smoking habit. Along these lines, it is recommended to purchase cancer insurance or a rider like ‘Critical Illness Cover’ which is available with term plans. This optional cover offers accelerated payouts in case the insured is diagnosed with critical illnesses like cancer, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disorders, and so forth.
But most importantly, a smoker must make honest disclosure about his smoking habit during application and go through the medical test.