According to the CDC, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US. Every year, smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans.
Despite these statistics, about 12.5% of US adults still smoke cigarettes.
The Harmful Effects of Cigarettes
● Cancer: Smoking cigarettes causes about 90% of lung cancer cases in the US. Cigarette smoking is also linked to other types of cancer all throughout your body.
● Heart disease: Smoking cigarettes tends to damage and narrow your blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and other chronic heart conditions.
● Lung disease: Smoking cigarettes damages your lungs and can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of conditions that make breathing difficult.
● Weakened bones: Cigarette smoking can decrease your bone density and increase your risk of fractures.
● Reproductive problems: Cigarette smoking can cause fertility problems in both men and women. Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy is linked to many health problems in both mothers and babies, including low birth weight, preterm birth, and stillbirth.
● Eye disease: Cigarettes increase your risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.
● Arthritis: Smoking can lead to increased inflammation and worsened pain and stiffness in people with arthritis.
● Infections: Smoking cigarettes weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infections, such as pneumonia and influenza.
● Signs of aging: Smoking cigarettes can cause wrinkles and make your skin age more quickly.
Smoking and Your Health
If you currently smoke cigarettes, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit. Quitting smoking has both immediate and long-term benefits for your health.
Although the initial withdrawal symptoms can be difficult, they are only temporary. Within a few weeks of quitting smoking, your heart and lung function will already start to improve, and your risk of heart disease and stroke can begin decreasing.
You are also likely to notice other benefits of quitting smoking, such as an elevated mood, increased energy levels, and improved circulation.
The longer you stay smoke-free, the more your health will improve. After just 3 years of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a continuing smoker. After 15 years of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease is nearly the same as a non-smoker, and your risk of lung cancer is cut in half.
Quitting Before Age 35
A recent prospective cohort study published in October 2022 found that individuals who quit smoking before the age of 45 experienced a 90% reduction in mortality risk. And people who quit before age 35 could essentially eliminate completely the increased mortality risk associated with their former smoking habit.
This new study further reinforces the importance of quitting smoking, and it highlights the even greater benefits of quitting as soon as possible.
No matter your age, quitting smoking can dramatically improve your health, extend your life, and reduce your risk of suffering from disabling conditions.
There are many resources available to help you quit smoking. Any progress you can make towards quitting smoking is a step in the right direction.