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Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you.  But just how bad is it?  It’s the leading cause of preventable death in the world, resulting in six million deaths around the globe and 400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. The good news is that smoking cessation lowers -- or in some cases, eliminates -- the risk of many diseases. Here’s exactly what happens to your body when you quit smoking.

1) Your Risk of Lung Cancer Goes Down.

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the U.S. for both men and women. Every year, more than 200,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, and it leads to more than 150,000 deaths each year.  Smoking is responsible for 80% of lung cancer deaths in women, and 90% of lung cancer deaths in men. Fortunately, with every year that passes after you quit smoking, your risk of lung cancer continues to drop until it becomes nearly as low as if you’d never smoked at all.

2) Your Lung Function Improves.

Smoking is the leading cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which happens when cigarette smoke damages the small air sacs in the lungs, called the alveoli. When the alveoli lose their elasticity, it becomes difficult for the lungs to expand and contract, which leads to diminished lung capacity. After quitting smoking for just six weeks, patients with COPD had a measurable improvement in their lung function, and continued to improve the longer they went without smoking.

3) Your Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Drop.

The nicotine in cigarette smoke causes an elevation in blood pressure, an accelerated heart rate and hardening of artery walls. All of these combine to cause an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. After just 20 minutes without cigarette smoke, your blood pressure and heart rate begin to drop. If you continue to abstain from smoking, your blood pressure and heart rate are more likely to remain in the normal range.

4) Your Bones Become Healthier.

Most people know that smoking causes lung disease, but it also causes lots of other health problems, including osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones that increases your risk of sustaining a fracture.  Patients who quit smoking, even after they had already developed osteoporosis, had improved bone density tests, which means that smoking cessation can not only prevent, but reverse, bone damage done by cigarette smoke.

5) Your Chance of a Healthy Pregnancy Goes Up.

When you stop smoking, your risk of infertility and pregnancy complications drops dramatically. Smoking causes erectile dysfunction and lowered sperm counts in men, and the chemicals in cigarettes cause an acceleration of egg destruction in women, which can lead to infertility.  Smoking also leads to pregnancy complications, including preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as deformities of the baby’s lips and mouth.  Smoking cessation is one of the best things prospective parents can do to improve their chances of welcoming a healthy little one into their family.

6) Food Tastes Better.

Smoking flattens your taste buds and decreases blood flow to your mouth and tongue, which mean that smokers typically can’t taste their food as well as non-smokers can. In addition to all the other benefits of smoking cessation, it also improves your sense of taste, making eating more pleasurable than it was before.

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