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Quit smoking. Photo: Moffitt Cancer Center

After you smoke your last cigarette, your body begins to change. Here are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking:

Your blood pressure goes back to normal.

The nicotine in cigarettes can cause your pulse and blood pressure to rise, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. But within as little as 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette, your blood pressure begins to normalize.

You can breathe easier.

Within just 8 hours of quitting smoking, your body’s oxygen levels will increase and your lung function will begin to improve. As your lungs begin to heal, you may feel less short of breath, cough less and find it easier to breathe in the coming weeks and months after you quit.

Your risk of developing cancer decreases.

Your risk of developing cancer decreases.

After you take that final puff, your risk of developing lung cancer is cut in half. Your risk for developing esophageal, bladder and pancreatic cancers decreases, too.

Your skin, hair and nails look better.

Smoking stains your teeth and nails with an unsightly yellow film. It can also dull your skin and make your hair brittle. Quitting improves blood flow, making your skin look more radiant and your smile look brighter.

You lower your risk of developing heart disease.

When you stop smoking, you’re helping your heart. Within eight weeks of quitting, your cholesterol levels improve. After a year of not smoking, your risk of heart disease is cut in half. After 15 years nicotine-free, your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack are the same as someone who has never smoked, according to Geisinger.

Benefits of Quitting

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Photo: The Conversation

Broken Addiction Cycle

Quitting smoking can re-wire your brain and help break the cycle of addiction. The large number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal levels after about a month of being quit.

Sharp Hearing

Quitting smoking will keep your hearing sharp. Remember, even mild hearing loss can cause problems (like not hearing directions correctly and doing a task wrong).

Better Vision

Stopping smoking will improve your night vision and help preserve your overall vision by stopping the damage that smoking does to your eyes.

Clean Mouth

Nobody likes a dirty mouth. After a few days without cigarettes, your smile will be brighter. Not smoking now will keep your mouth healthy for years to come.

Clear Skin

Quitting smoking is better than anti-aging lotion. Quitting can help clear up blemishes and protect your skin from premature aging and wrinkling.

Decreased Heart Risks

Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease. But many of these heart risks can be reversed simply by quitting smoking. Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately. Your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.

Thin Blood

Another effect of quitting smoking is that your blood will become thinner and less likely to form dangerous blood clots. Your heart will also have less work to do, because it will be able to move the blood around your body more easily.

Lower Cholesterol

Quitting smoking will not get rid of the fatty deposits that are already there. But it will lower the levels of cholesterol and fats circulating in your blood, which will help to slow the buildup of new fatty deposits in your arteries.

Stop Lung Damage

Scarring of the lungs is not reversible. That is why it is important to quit smoking before you do permanent damage to your lungs. Within two weeks of quitting, you might notice it’s easier to walk up the stairs because you may be less short of breath. Don’t wait until later; quit today!

Prevent Emphysema

There is no cure for emphysema. But quitting when you are young, before you have done years of damage to the delicate air sacs in your lungs, will help protect you from developing emphysema later.

Return of Cilia

Cilia start to regrow and regain normal function very quickly after you quit smoking. They are one of the first things in your body to heal. People sometimes notice that they cough more than usual when they first quit smoking. This is a sign that the cilia are coming back to life. But you’re more likely to fight off colds and infections when you’re cilia are working properly.

Lower Cancer Risk

Quitting smoking will prevent new DNA damage from happening and can even help repair the damage that has already been done. Quitting smoking immediately is the best way to lower your risk of getting cancer.

Smaller Belly

Quitting smoking will reduce your belly fat and lower your risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, quitting can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Normal Estrogen Levels

If you’re a woman, your estrogen levels will gradually return to normal after you quit smoking. And if you hope to have children someday, quitting smoking right now will increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Sexual Healing

If you quit smoking now, you can lower your chances of erectile dysfunction and improve your chances of having a healthy sexual life.

Normal White Blood Cell Count

When you quit smoking, your body will begin to heal from the injuries that smoking caused. Eventually, your white blood cell counts will return to normal and will no longer be on the defensive.

Proper Healing

Quitting smoking will improve blood flow to wounds, allowing important nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to reach the wound and help it heal properly.

Stronger Immune System

When you quit smoking, your immune system is no longer exposed to tar and nicotine. It will become stronger, and you will be less likely to get sick.

Strong Muscles

Quitting smoking will help increase the availability of oxygen in your blood, and your muscles will become stronger and healthier.

Stronger Bones

Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of fractures, both now and later in life. Keep your bones strong and healthy by quitting now, according to Smokefree

The takeaway

With so many health benefits of quitting smoking, the time to quit is now. You can start by making a plan using resources from the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source and talking to a smoking cessation counselor by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

You can enlist your doctor, family, and friends to support you in your quest to live a healthier, smoke-free lifestyle. Be sure to celebrate each time milestone along the way — you’re worth it.

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