About half of all Americans who smoke and don’t quit will die because of smoking. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to quit, and the sooner the better. But quitting is rewarding no matter how old you are. Studies show that even after age 80, people can live healthier if they give up cigarettes.
And the benefits are almost immediate. Ex-smokers have fewer illnesses such as colds and the flu, lower rates of bronchitis and pneumonia, and feel healthier than people who still smoke. Just 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. In just 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. In as little as 2 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but fewer people realize it is linked to a higher risk for many other kinds of cancer, too. Quitting smoking also lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer or another significant health problem, quitting smoking makes it more likely the treatment will be successful and that you’ll have fewer side effects.