Timeline: the benefits of quitting

iStock

The list of health problems caused by smoking is endless: cancer, lung diseases, heart attacks, strokes, blindness, fertility problems, you name it, it's there. The good news, though, is that no matter how old you are or how long you've smoked, quitting can help you live longer and be healthier.

Have a look at these health benefits over time:

  • 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function, and are better ableto handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  • 1 year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
  • 5 years after quitting, the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and bladder is halved. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
  • 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Take charge of your health and add years to your life by quitting smoking today.

- Birgit Ottermann, Health24, updated March 2012

(Sources: American Cancer Society, Cansa and Health24)

Read more:

5 ways to quit smoking
How smoking affects your health
Quiz: are you ready to quit smoking?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 426 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 5369 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
11% - 725 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
18.02
+0.3%
Rand - Pound
20.17
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.67
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.61
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.6%
Gold
1,662.76
+0.1%
Silver
19.40
+1.9%
Palladium
2,188.00
+1.0%
Platinum
867.00
+0.3%
Brent Crude
85.14
-2.4%
Top 40
57,264
-0.2%
All Share
63,612
-0.2%
Resource 10
60,147
-0.1%
Industrial 25
77,106
-0.4%
Financial 15
13,797
+0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE