Your Health is NOT a Lost Cause: Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking —By Fred H. Kelley

Many smokers hold a common misconception that their bodies will never recover from the damage done to them by smoking. This misconception is often used as an excuse to continue smoking.

If you use this excuse to justify your smoking habit, it may be time to quit (or search hard for another excuse). In fact, you can reverse much of the damage done to your body by smoking, and enjoy the benefits of a much healthier body almost as soon as you quit smoking.

Within 60 minutes of taking your last puff, your blood pressure and pulse decrease, while the circulation and internal temperature in your hands and feet increase. Smoking constricts blood vessels and raises your heart rate. When the chemicals from cigarettes are flushed from the body, circulation returns to normal.

In just a few hours, carbon monoxide (like exhaust from your car’s tailpipe) levels in your blood return to normal. Cigarette smoke contains CO, which binds with hemoglobin, the protein that helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The carbon monoxide, combined with hemoglobin reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the cells of your body. Thus, as CO is eliminated, more oxygen is available for the normal functioning of your body.

Twenty four hours after your last puff, the risk of heart attack is already reduced. Forty eight hours after you quit smoking, your nerve endings will change. The stimulation given by nicotine is radically reduced. You’ll begin to recover normal sensation. Simultaneously, your sense of smell and taste begin returning to normal. Food will taste more alive and you’ll be able to smell more acutely.

After about 14 days, nicotine cravings will diminish to near zero, only returning (if at all) randomly over the next few months. Meanwhile, your circulatory system is recovering. Your ability to exercise more intensely and without shortness of breath is recovering. In only a few weeks or months, you’ll be able to exercise normally again.

During the next few months, your “smoker’s hack” and congestion decrease. Your energy level increases while fatigue drops. Your body’s systems are rebuilding and returning to near pre-smoking levels.

As you maintain your smoke free life, your risk of stroke drops quickly. As a smoker, your risk of stroke is twice that of a non-smoker. Only a year after you quit, it’s half what it was. Happily, within five to fifteen years, your risk is back on par with someone who has never inhaled a cigarette.

During the same time period, your risk of lung or larynx cancer, as well as bladder, pancreas and others, approach those of someone who never smoked. Heavy smoking causes approximately 87% of lung cancer cases. Quitting smoking removes you from that group within a few years.

Your health is NOT permanently, irretrievably scarred by smoking. Your body has near miraculous ability to rebuild and regenerate, given time and your commitment to a smoke-free life. The alternative is a greatly increased risk of heart disease, stroke, a dozen different cancers, COPD and other serious medical problems. Make the commitment now and reclaim your healthy body!

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