The consequences of smoking include a higher risk for lung cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancer. Time is a factor in both ill effects of smoking and benefits in staying smoke free. Both accumulate over time. If you quit smoking at 30 years of age, you gain 10 years of life. If you quit at 40 you gain nine years of life. At 50 you gain six years of life and at 60 you gain three years of life.
Within 20 minutes of stopping smoking, heart rate and blood pressure drop to healthier levels. After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels of the blood return to normal. Within 48 hours, nerve endings begin to regrow and sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. Coughing and shortness of breath decrease in one month. At two months insulin resistance normalizes, and c irculation improves and lung function increases in three months. After a year of not smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker. In five years stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker. The risk of lung cancer is reduced to half that of a smoker and there is a decreased risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, bladder, cervical, and pancreatic cancers 10 years after stopping smoking. In 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to that of a non smoker.
When people stop smoking, there is a physical withdrawal from nicotine as well as the mental effects of quitting. Irritability, anger, frustration, and difficulty concentrating are common challenges. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) includes gum, inhalers, lozenges, nasal sprays, and skin patches, all containing some nicotine. These are of help to some people, but they must not smoke while using NRT. Snacks, going for a walk, or lighting a candle can help avoid lighting up. Your physician may be able to help with prescription medication as well as directing you to a support group. There is a toll free QUIT line, 1-800-QUIT Now (1-800-784-8669).