Health benefits of quitting smoking
We all know smoking is bad for our health, but it can be easy to forget the impact it has on our lifestyle too. Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do to look after yourself, and you will see immediate benefits to your health as well as have a healthier lifestyle long-term.
Health risks associated with smoking
Smoking is the top cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in the UK, accounting for over 77,000 deaths each year in England alone. Smoking has been found to cause lung cancer, respiratory diseases, heart disease and has been connected to a variety of other cancers and serious illnesses. Smoking has also been found to increase the chances of having erectile dysfunction (ED), problems with fertility (female fertility can be as much as 30% lower in smokers), gum disease and psoriasis.
Find out more about the risks of smoking.
Benefits of stopping smoking
The lifestyle and health benefits of stopping smoking are countless, but we thought we would outline just a few of the key changes you could make to your life:
- Lower your cancer risk - smoking damages your DNA, so quitting smoking can help prevent further damage and repair some of the damage already done. This will reduce your risk of cancer.
- Improved lung capacity - lung capacity can improve by nearly 10% within 9 months of quitting smoking. Keeping your lungs healthy and at maximum capacity means you will have the best chance of leading an active lifestyle well into old age.
- Improved dental health and hygiene - stopping smoking halts the browning effect tobacco has on teeth. You’ll also have fresher smelling breath, keep your teeth for longer and reduce the risk of gum disease
- Improved senses - people who quit smoking will keep their hearing sharp, improve their night vision and improve their sense of taste and smell.
- Increased energy and immunity levels - quitting smoking improves your circulation, meaning any type of physical activity is easier and you’ll feel more energised. The increased blood flow helps boost the immune system and reduce tiredness.
- Better sex life - increased blood flow will also improve your sensitivity, making sex more pleasurable. Men are also less likely to experience ED if they aren’t smokers or have quit.
- Improved fertility - non-smokers are likely to find it easier to get pregnant as the lining of the womb can be damaged by smoking. Sperm can be more potent in non-smokers too.
- Help keep those around you healthy - breathing in secondhand smoke increases your chances of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Children who are around smoke in their early years are also more likely to experience chest infections, asthma and ear infections.
How long after quitting smoking does health improve?
You can start to feel the impact of stopping smoking after as little as 20 minutes. This is because your heart rate gets faster when you smoke, so after finishing your last cigarette you will begin to see this return to normal.
Within 48 hours nicotine and carbon monoxide will be eliminated from the body and your lungs will start to clear out the mucus and debris caused by smoking. You might also start to see an improvement in your taste and smell.
In just 3 days you’ll find your breathing becomes easier, bronchial tubes will relax and energy levels will increase.
These rapid changes show us just how quickly a change can be made to your health and lifestyle when you stop smoking. To find out in more detail the improvements you could see to your health the longer you are smoke free, see our stop smoking timeline.
What is the life expectancy by age when you quit smoking?
While it’s hard to estimate life expectancy when you quit smoking, evidence suggests men who quit smoking by the age they’re 30 will add 10 years to their life expectancy. People who stop smoking by the time they’re 60 will add 3 years to their lives.
Is it good to quit smoking suddenly?
There is some evidence to suggest that quitting smoking suddenly, or going cold turkey as it’s known, just give you a better chance of staying off cigarettes in the long run. A study found that 39% of people who gradually stopped smoking were still abstinent after 4 weeks, as opposed to 49% of those who stopped smoking abruptly.
Over six months, 15% of those who gradually stopped were still smokefree, compared to 22% of those who stopped overnight.
Despite these findings it’s important to remember that no one way
of quitting will work for everyone. Some people find gradually cutting down will work for them. Some stop smoking treatments, such as Champix, require you to carry on smoking for the first week of treatment and then choose a day in the second week to stop.
It’s normal to experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking, no matter if you stop gradually or suddenly. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can include cravings, irritable mood, problems sleeping, poor concentration and feeling more hungry. But it’s key to remember these symptoms will pass, and while you might not feel yourself during this withdrawal period, you will feel healthier in the long-run.
Stop smoking treatments
While some people can simply give up smoking and never go back, lots of people seek out treatment to help them in their journey to being smoke free.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a popular treatment to help people stop smoking. The patches, gum, spray or lozenges release small amounts of nicotine into the body. This stops the craving for cigarettes and helps with any withdrawal symptoms you may experience.
- Champix (varenicline) has been shown to be the most effective medication in helping people stop smoking. This prescription-only medication helps to both reduce the cravings for cigarettes and blocks the enjoyment of smoking.
You can visit our Online Doctor stop smoking clinic to get advice and support to help you on your journey to quitting smoking for good. LloydsPharmacy also has a whole range of stop smoking treatments and aids which may be able to help you to quit smoking too.