The 10 Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking can improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and lower the risk of cancer. We'll show you what other benefits quitting tobacco use has.
The 10 Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 16 December, 2022

Most people are aware of the negative effects of smoking. This habit not only increases the risk of developing chronic diseases but can also lead to early death. Now, have you ever wondered what the benefits of quitting smoking are?

Getting rid of this habit isn’t easy, especially with withdrawal symptoms. However, quitting smoking can have almost immediate effects. Did you know that after 20 minutes of not smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop? Discover other benefits of quitting tobacco use in the following article.

The main benefits of quitting smoking

While it’s true that quitting smoking can be quite a challenge, it’s worth it when you consider the benefits that this can bring to both physical and mental health. Let’s look at each one in detail.

1. Quitting smoking breaks the cycle of addiction

A woman suffering the social and psychological consequences of smoking.
Addiction can have severe consequences in the social and psychological areas.

According to a scientific study, it’s likely that after a month of quitting, things will improve little by little. This is because the receptors on nerve cells that had bound to nicotine return to normal and the cycle of addiction is broken.

2. Quitting smoking improves circulation

There’s scientific evidence that smoking is associated with an increased risk of vascular disease.

Fortunately, circulation can improve 2 to 12 weeks after quitting smoking, making it easier to exercise and making you less likely to have an acute myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death.

3. Recovers the senses of taste and smell

A study published in the Journal of Neurology found that smoking impairs taste buds and nerve endings in the nose.

However, giving up this habit has been shown to significantly improve taste and smell perceptions.

4. Increases energy and strengthens the immune system

According to the UK National Health Service, quitting smoking can improve blood circulation and make physical activity easier.

In the same way, it can strengthen the immune system, which stimulates protection against colds and flu. Blood oxygen levels are also increased, which is associated with a reduction in fatigue and the propensity for headaches.

5. Whitens teeth and improve breath

According to the aforementioned UK National Health Service publication, getting rid of this habit not only prevents blemishes, it freshens your breath. Also, ex-smokers are less likely to suffer from periodontitis and lose teeth at an early age.

6. Improves your sex life

A study published in the medical journal Andrologia claims that smoking is one of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction in men.

Similarly, research published in the Journal of Psychosexual Health found that tobacco can contribute to female sexual dysfunction by decreasing genital lubrication and the frequency of orgasm.

7. Reduces the risk of cancer

Studies have shown that when people who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day reduce their consumption by 50%, the risk of lung cancer is significantly reduced.

Likewise, research published in Cancer Epidemiology found that the more time that passes after quitting, the lower the risk of cancer in both men and women. The study suggests that even heavy smokers can benefit from quitting tobacco use.

According to the same publication, other types of cancer that can be avoided are cancer of the esophagus, kidney, bladder, and pancreas.

8. Promotes healthy skin

A woman with radiant skin.
A good appearance and the health of the skin depend on many factors, including not smoking.

According to a study published in Skinmed, quitting smoking can improve skin health, especially by delaying aging. The skin of ex-smokers has a higher level of oxygenation, takes better advantage of nutrients, and loses the sallow and wrinkled appearance that characterizes those with this habit.

9. Protects loved ones

As stated by the UK National Health Service, quitting smoking can prevent your friends and family from getting sick. Passive smoke exposure can increase the likelihood of lung cancer, as well as heart disease and stroke.

At the same time, it doubles the propensity of suffering from different respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, and wheezing in children, in addition to having 3 times the risk of developing lung cancer in later life.

10. Reduces levels of stress, anxiety, and depression

A study published in BMJ: British Medical Journal found that quitting smoking can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress levels. The effects may be equal to or greater than antidepressant treatments to treat mood and anxiety.

Similarly, the research suggested that ex-smokers have a better mood and quality of life compared to those who continue their addiction to tobacco.

The side effects of quitting smoking

It’s true that quitting smoking is more beneficial than continuing the habit. However, to abandon it, it’s crucial to overcome a series of side effects that occur because the body must get used to being without nicotine.

According to various studies, all these symptoms can be grouped within what’s known as withdrawal syndrome. Let’s take a closer look at what you might experience, taking the opportunity to remind you that these symptoms are temporary:

  • Headache and nausea.
  • Tingling in the hands and feet. This is caused by an improvement in circulation.
  • Cough and sore throat. They can occur as the lungs remove mucus and other wastes associated with smoking.
  • Increased appetite and weight. As your energy increases, it’s normal for your appetite to increase as well. Also, some people eat as a substitute for cigarettes, leading to weight gain.
  • Nicotine cravings.
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, and anger.
  • Constipation.
  • Difficulty focusing.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Smokers are at high risk of depression and anxiety. This habit can make them feel better, so when they quit smoking, they feel anxious or depressed.

Timeline of the quitting process

You’ve probably wondered when the benefits of quitting the habit start to show. Here’s what The American Cancer Society says:

  • 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • Between 8 and 12 hours after quitting, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood drops.
  • After 2 weeks to 3 months after your last cigarette, your risk of having a heart attack is reduced.
  • After 1 to 9 months of quitting tobacco, shortness of breath and coughing decrease.
  • 1 year later, the risk of heart disease is cut in half.
  • 5 years later, you’re less likely to have a stroke.
  • 10 years later, the propensity to develop lung cancer is equal to that of a person who’s never smoked.
  • 15 years later, the probability of suffering from heart disease is reduced to that of someone who’s never smoked.

Quitting smoking only brings benefits

While it’s true that withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming, quitting smoking only brings benefits. From perceiving smells and tastes better, feeling less tired, and having better oral health, to reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

In addition, certain benefits are appreciated after a few minutes of the last cigarette, because quitting smoking adds years to your life.

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