Reasons to quit smoking

There are well-known risks to your health if you continue to smoke. Fortunately, there are also well-known benefits if you quit smoking, no matter the stage of the cancer or what type it is.

It’s never too late to quit using tobacco, even after a cancer diagnosis. Living with cancer and going through treatment may change your priorities and may give you added motivation to help you quit. Similarly, if you are a cancer survivor, knowing that smoking can encourage the cancer to come back may motivate you to stay smoke-free. Whatever your reasons, it is important to write these reasons down and think about them often.

Ways that quitting tobacco can benefit cancer care

There are many ways that quitting smoking can benefit your cancer care. Quitting smoking can:

  • Improve the chances of your cancer treatment being successful
  • Help you recover from treatment faster
  • Lessen the side effects from treatment, including pain
  • Potentially lengthen your survival
  • Lower the risk of your cancer coming back
  • Lower your risk of getting new cancers
  • Improve your sleep and help you feel less tired and have more energy
  • Improve your breathing and help your heart and lungs work better
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Help you feel more in control of your cancer care

Personal reasons for quitting

Knowing the health benefits of quitting may motivate you to quit, but most people have other personal reasons to quit. Below are some reasons that people with cancer or who are at risk for cancer say they want to quit smoking. Do you have the same reasons to quit? Quitting and staying smoke-free is a difficult decision. Make sure your reasons are important to you.

  • “I want to take control and be involved in my cancer care.”
  • “I want to have more energy.”
  • “I want to be a good role model for my family and friends.”
  • “Smoking is expensive and it smells bad.”
  • “Smoking causes yellow teeth and unhealthy gums.”
  • “I want to be free from tobacco addiction.”
  • “Most people I know have already quit.”
  • “I want to see my children and grandchildren grow up.”
  • “I don’t want to worry my family about my health any more than needed.”

Health effects of quitting

Anyone who smokes benefits from quitting smoking regardless of how long you have smoked. Below are health benefits you’ll experience beginning as early as 20 minutes after quitting smoking.

20 minutes after quitting smoking…

  • Your blood pressure lowers to a normal level.
  • The temperature of your hands and feet increases to a normal level.

8 hours after quitting smoking…

  • The carbon monoxide (an odorless, colorless toxic gas released into your bloodstream when you smoke cigarettes) level in your blood drops to normal.

24 hours after quitting smoking…

  • Your risk of having a heart attack begins to drop.

48 hours after quitting smoking...

  • Your nerve endings start re-growing.
  • Your ability to smell and taste is enhanced.

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting smoking…

  • Your blood circulation improves.
  • Your lungs start working up to 30 percent better.

1 to 9 months after quitting smoking…

  • Your coughing, sinus congestion and shortness of breath decrease.
  • You have more energy.
  • Your risk of getting an infection is reduced.
  • Walking becomes easier.
  • Lung function increases by as much as 30 percent.

1 year after quitting smoking…

  • Your risk of heart disease is lower by half that of a smoker.

5 to 15 years after quitting smoking…

  • Your risk of having a stroke is the same as a nonsmoker, which is 4 times lower than it was when you were smoking.

10 years after quitting…

  • Your risk of dying from lung cancer is 50 percent lower than that of a person who continues to smoke.
  • Your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas is lower.

15 years after quitting smoking…

  • Your risk of heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker’s risk.