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What Happens When you Stop Smoking

Despite the well-known health risks associated with smoking, quitting can be a daunting challenge for many. However, understanding what happens in your body when you stop smoking can be a powerful motivator to finally kick the habit.

In this article, we'll explore the fascinating and often surprising changes that take place in your body when you quit smoking, from the first hours to the first year and beyond. Whether you're a smoker looking to quit or simply curious about the impact of smoking on your health, read on to discover the amazing transformation that can occur when you put down that cigarette for good.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking

The first month

  • In 12 hours excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood
  • In 5 days most nicotine is out of your body
  • In 1 week your sense of taste and smell improves
  • In 1 month your skin appearance is likely to improve

The first year

  • In 2 months your lungs will no longer be producing extra phlegm caused by smoking
  • In 3 months your lung function and blood flow improves
  • In 12 months your risk of heart disease has halved

Longer term benefits

  • In 5 years your risk of a stroke has dramatically decreased
  • In 10 years your risk of lung cancer is less than half that of a continuing smoker and continues to fall
  • In 15 years your risk of heart attack and stroke is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked

Some impairments to overall health and wellbeing may even be able to be reversed:

  • Lung damage
    Cilia are small hair like projections from certain cells that remove mucus and dirt out of the lungs. If they have been paralysed (but not destroyed), they can recover. Chest and lung conditions which are made worse by smoking, such as asthma and chest infections, can also improve.
  • Cancer
    The risk of developing most cancers will generally decrease after quitting smoking completely. While quitting at any age has benefits, the earlier you quit the lower your risk of developing smoking-related cancers.
  • Eye damage
    For most people, the damage that smoking causes to the eyes can’t be reversed. It’s hard to say when damage occurs, but it appears to happen over many years.
  • Damage to your teeth
    Quitting smoking will improve your general dental health. Quitting smoking can also benefit tooth retention, however it may take decades for the rate of tooth loss to return to the same as a non-smoker.

If you are considering to stop smoking, below are resources from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care to help you on your journey.

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