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Health Connection: January 2016

Ready to Quit Smoking? You Can Do It — and NOW is the Time

It’s January, and like most of us, you’re probably busy lining up your New Year’s resolutions. But how many of those resolutions were you still keeping last year by February 1? There’s always tomorrow, right?

What you need — what we all need — is motivation. A sense of urgency. The American Cancer Society wants you to know that there are real benefits to quitting smoking, some of which will be noticeable fairly soon after you stop.

No matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting now can help you live longer and be healthier. People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who keep smoking. (But quitting at ANY age is a great thing, so if you’re older than 50, don’t think it’s too late. It’s never too late to quit smoking and improve your health, says the American Cancer Society.) Check out these health benefits:

  • Ex-smokers enjoy a higher quality of life, with fewer illnesses such as colds and the flu, lower rates of bronchitis and pneumonia, and an overall healthier feeling compared with those who still smoke.
  • Ex-smokers live longer than people who keep smoking.
  • Quitting smoking lowers the risk of lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease.
  • The health benefits of quitting smoking are far greater than any risks from the small weight gain (usually less than 10 pounds) or any emotional or psychological problems that may follow quitting.
  • Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath begin to improve.
  • Those who quit smoking enjoy better breath, healthier teeth and a reduced chance of developing cancers of the mouth and throat.
  • Twenty minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop. Twelve hours after quitting, the carbon-monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Two weeks to three months after quitting, your circulation improves.

Make the commitment to quit. Now. You’ll soon be enjoying all the wonderful benefits of being a non-smoker. Happy new year!

—Source: American Cancer Society; American Dental Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Surgeon General’s Report

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