Check this out: If you’re a smoker–and a woman–and you quit, you’ll reduce your risk of dying from a smoking related condition significantly over the next five years. You’ll also cut your chance of developing a smoking related cancer by 20% within that same time period. So says the Nurses’ Health Follow-Up Study that looked at 104,519 female participants covering the period from 1980 to 2004. Nice.

I’m really not that much of a “you better quit smoking” person. Weird, huh? Being a doctor and not feeling adamant about banning smoking. Well, I just don’t. I smoked for 20 years and I know its got it’s draw. I also know that cigarette smoking isn’t the only thing that can kill you–pretty much everything can. I mean, we’re all going to die, aren’t we? Case in point: More women who didn’t smoke died in the study (4,485) than both smokers (3,602) and former smokers (4,396) during 1980 and 2004. Yes, this study is ongoing, and has been since 1976, so many of the non-smokers who died were probably older. But that’s not my point: we all die.

For me, dying isn’t the most important issue, though; it’s quality of life. And I can assure you that the quality of my life has improved dramatically since I quit smoking cigarettes. I have more energy. I’m sick less. I can work out harder. My lungs feel stronger and full of air. The list goes on and on. If you smoke, and you have since your childhood like I had, then you won’t know what I’m talking about until you quit. It’s better, trust me.

But, hey, some people can smoke occasionally (very few). If you only smoke once in a while, then you probably get the best of both worlds (kudos, cigar aficionados). But for most people tobacco is addicting, and they’ll enjoy a better quality of life by kicking the habit. And if you really do give a hoot about quantity of life, then you’ll be happy to know that according to the study: being smoke free for 20 years reverts a person to a physiological state of having never smoked at all. Isn’t the human body amazing?

2 Responses to Smoke Free

  1. Fate says:

    Ugh. I thought my lungs healed after 7 years. 20 is daunting.

  2. Caroline says:

    Well, quit smoking Oct. 11/2011. Started at 13 and quit whilst having children (5 yrs). Then started smoking again until Oct. Smoked a total of 42 yrs. Have noticed my breathing has improved. My sense of smell still sucks. I like to think that 7 yrs is the turnaround time for the lungs, because in 20 I’ll probably have one foot, if not two, down under. No climbing any mountains then!

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