9 health benefits you may reap after you quit smoking

Smoking increases the risk of oral health issues, cancer, and respiratory problems. Here are 9 health benefits of quitting smoking you should consider in order to improve your overall health.
benefits of quitting smoking
Stop smoking today to gain these benefits! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 7 Jun 2024, 13:15 pm IST
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People who smoke feel that it helps them relax, and overcome stress and anxiety. That may feel good in the moment, but it can lead to problems in the long run. Smoking is known to take a toll on your mental as well as physical well-being. The World Health Organization reports that tobacco use and smoking kill over 8 million people annually, including an estimated 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Up to half of tobacco users who do not quit also die from tobacco use. It may surprise you to learn that the benefits of quitting smoking not only improve your health but also the health of those around you.

Immediate health benefits of quitting smoking

The body begins to heal almost immediately after a person quits smoking. Within just 20 minutes of the last cigarette, heart rate and blood pressure dropped to normal levels. This rapid improvement is due to the cessation of nicotine intake, which has been stimulating the cardiovascular system. Within 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in the blood decrease to normal, enhancing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen effectively.

Long-term health benefits of quitting smoking

Here are 11 long-term health benefits of quitting smoking you should know:

1. Improves lifespan

Smoking narrows the blood vessels and increases the chances of heart attack and stroke. Hence, quitting smoking can keep these problems at bay. In fact, it reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation, sudden cardiac death, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and premature death. According to a study published by the University of Toronto, stopping smoking at any age is associated with an increased life expectancy. “Many people think it is too late to quit smoking, especially in middle age. However, the results are always positive when you quit smoking,” says Dr Samir Garde, a pulmonologist.

2. Lowers risk of lung damage

Smoking severely damages the lungs, leading to conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of these diseases and can lead to significant improvements in lung function over time, according to a study published by the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Within a few months of quitting, lung capacity increases, making physical activities such as walking and climbing stairs easier. Additionally, the risk of developing lung cancer, which is significantly higher among smokers, begins to decrease after quitting smoking.

heart failure issues
Smoking increases the risk of lung problems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Prevents cancer

Apart from lung cancer, smoking is linked to several other types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas cancers. Quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of developing these cancers, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Cancer Society. The longer a person remains smoke-free, the lower the risk of cancer.

4. Good for pregnant women

Smoking may delay the chances of pregnancy and may lead to fertility issues, found a study published by the Office on Smoking and Health. In fact, smoking while you are pregnant can cause serious problems, including a baby being born too early, having a birth defect, or dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, quitting smoking in women before and during pregnancy will help reduce the risk of premature births, and low birth weight.

5. Reduces risk of erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man cannot get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men who smoked had a 41 percent greater risk of erectile dysfunction than men who did not. Smoking can also lead to reduced sperm quality. By quitting smoking, people can improve blood circulation throughout their bodies, including the genitals, reducing the risk of ED and enhancing sexual health.

Also read: Stress and smoking: The factors that may put you at a higher risk of infertility

6. Boosts immunity

“Smoking weakens the immune system, making people more susceptible to infections and diseases,” says Dr Garde. Quitting smoking restores immune function, helping the body fight off illnesses more effectively. This can ensure recovery and improve your overall health, reducing the risk of common colds and respiratory infections.

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7. Promotes oral health

Smoking or using tobacco is a major risk factor for gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer, reveals a study published by Tobacco Induced Diseases. By quitting smoking, you can see significant improvements in your oral health. The risk of developing gum disease decreases, breath improves, and the overall condition of the mouth and teeth improves. For those who have already developed gum disease, quitting smoking can slow its progression and improve the effectiveness of dental treatments.

signs of poor oral health
Quitting smoking improves oral health! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

8. Improves skin health

Quitting smoking is beneficial for the skin too. Smoking accelerates the ageing process of the skin, leading to premature wrinkles, dry skin, sagging, and a dull skin tone. It happens due to reduced blood flow in the body and a lack of elasticity in the skin. However, when you quit smoking, your skin begins to repair itself. By improving blood circulation and increasing oxygen levels in the blood, it helps nourish the skin, resulting in a healthier, more radiant skin tone, found a study published by Skinmed.

Also read: 5 foods to help quit smoking and what to avoid

9. Strengthens muscles and bones

Smoking not only affects the lungs and heart but also has detrimental effects on muscles and bones. Nicotine and other toxins in cigarette smoke can weaken bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterised by fragile bones and increased susceptibility to fractures. Additionally, smoking can impair muscle function. By quitting smoking, you give your muscles and bones a chance to heal and strengthen, found a study published by Scientific Reports.

Ditch those cigarettes right away and thank us later!

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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