What are the medical facts about smoking?
The medical facts about smoking are common knowledge—and the most critical and well-established fact is that smoking cigarettes is bad for you. Yet somehow, many people still ignore the health risks and keep smoking.
According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. There are nearly 480,000 deaths from smoking in the US every year, due to the increased risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as emphysema, asthma, and pneumonia.
Even though there is substantial evidence of the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting, there are still 28.3 million U.S. adults who continue to smoke.
While lung cancer deaths have been declining consistently in the United States, lung cancer is still responsible for the most cancer-related deaths. While there has been a decrease in the number of people who start smoking, and in the number of deaths caused by smoking, the change has been much too slow, especially considering the benefits of quitting smoking.
What happens when you quit smoking?
When a smoker quits, the body begins to immediately repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke. This repair continues for many years afterward. The health benefits of quitting are many, and they start immediately.
- 20 minutes after you stop smoking your heart rate and blood pressure drop back to normal levels.
- 12 hours after quitting the carbon monoxide level in your blood has returned to normal.
- 24 hours after quitting your heart attack risk starts to decrease.
- 48 hours after quitting all the nicotine is out of your body!
- 3 days after quitting your lungs are already beginning to heal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting your heart attack risk continues to decrease as your lung health and blood circulation continue to improve.
- 3-9 months after quitting you’ll have more energy, breathe better, and get sick less!
- 1 year after quitting your risk of heart disease will be half what it was when you were smoking.
- 5 years after you stop smoking your risk of stroke and cervical cancer are the same as a nonsmoker and your risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, and bladder cancer are half what they were when you still smoked.
Does quitting smoking by age 35 offer increased health benefits?
A large 2022 study suggests that quitting smoking by age 35 brings the risk of death from smoking-associated disease in line with “never smokers.” Study participants included current smokers, former smokers, and never-smokers.
The study findings included the following:
- Among men and women from diverse racial and ethnic groups, current smokers were associated with at least twice the all-cause mortality rate of never smokers.
- Quitting smoking, especially in younger age groups, was associated with a substantial reduction in relative excess mortality associated with continued smoking.
- The research revealed those who stopped smoking later in life still saw substantial benefits, but their death rates exceeded those who quit smoking before 35 years old.
What are the health benefits if I quit after 35?
Smokers older than 35, don’t despair—the findings in JAMA Network Open, reported significant benefits for quitting later in life, too.
When a smoker of any age successfully quits smoking, their future health risks are decreased. Period. The study further emphasized the decreased health risks caused by successfully quitting smoking, whatever your age:
- Former smokers who quit between ages 35 and 44 showed a 21% higher rate of death from any cause, compared with “never smokers.” And those who quit between ages 45 and 54 showed a 47% higher all-cause mortality risk than never smokers.
- Quitting smoking before age 44 was associated with a reduction in mortality that was 21% higher than never smokers. This was consistent across all sociodemographic groups studied.
- Those who quit by age 45 cut their excess risk of death by up to 90%
- Even quitters over age 45 saw a substantial benefit in increased life expectancy compared with those who continued smoking.
Can the study findings be used to promote continued smoking cessation?
Most smokers have difficulty preventing relapse when they experience craving and withdrawal symptoms and want to know how to quit smoking successfully. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about two-thirds of youth tobacco users report wanting to quit, and nearly two-thirds report trying to quit in 2021.
Is vaping as bad as smoking?
Electronic cigarettes have become popular among younger people as a “safe” replacement for tobacco cigarettes. An e-cigarette delivers a mist of nicotine, liquid, and other chemicals, which is inhaled like cigarette smoke.
Currently, the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are unknown and under research, but studies have shown they produce short-term changes similar to traditional cigarettes.
Since e-cigarettes are not safer and still contain the addictive substance nicotine, e-cigarettes may not be a preferable alternative.
Is there a link between smoking and cervical cancer?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer–but research has also shown that cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke each raise the risk of cervical cancer.
Among HPV-infected women, current and former smokers have approximately two to three times the incidence of cervical lesions or invasive cancer. Passive smoking is also associated with increased risk, but to a lesser extent.
Scientists do not entirely understand the link but hypothesize it may be due to cellular damage caused by tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke may suppress the immune response to HPV, making smokers’ bodies less capable of protecting themselves from infection.
While further research is necessary to confirm the link, it’s abundantly clear that quitting smoking at any age is beneficial to your health.
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of, or suffering from, cervical cancer or have questions, we invite you to establish care with Dr. Aliabadi.
Make Dr. Aliabadi your Los Angeles OB/GYN
As one of the nation’s leading OB/GYNs, Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi offers the very best in women’s health and well-being. Together with her warm professional team, Dr. Aliabadi supports women through all phases of life. She fosters a special one-on-one relationship between patient and doctor.
An expert in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Aliabadi has been a practicing OB-GYN in Los Angeles since 2002. She serves as an official gynecologist for many royal families and “celebrities,” as well as instructing Cedars Sinai Medical Center residents and medical students at the University of Southern California.
We invite you to establish care with Dr. Aliabadi. Please make an appointment online or call us at (844) 863-6700.
The practice of Dr. Thais Aliabadi and the Outpatient Hysterectomy Center is conveniently located for patients throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. We are near Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, and Downtown Los Angeles.
Pirie K, Peto, Reeves GK, Green J, Beral V, Million Women Study Collaborators. The 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of stopping: a prospective study of one million women in the UK. Lancet. 2013;381(9861):133-141.
Ritter C, Stöver H, Levy M, Etter JF, Elger B. Smoking in prisons: the need for effective and acceptable interventions. J Public Health Policy 2011;32:32-45.