January 16, 2019
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Nabil P. Rizk, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cancer Care, Cardiac / Heart Health, Women's Health, Men's Health.
Off the top of your head you might be able to think of several reasons why quitting smoking could be beneficial. These benefits are particularly important when it comes to your overall state of health, especially your lung health. And, once you’ve quit the habit, the number of those health benefits continues to increase as times passes.
“It is no secret that smoking cigarettes takes a toll on our bodies,” explains Nabil P. Rizk, M.D., chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. “It can lead to negative impacts on our health including lung cancer and lung disease.”
Likewise, smoking can lead to increased risk for stroke and coronary heart disease, and increased risk for other cancers, like pancreatic.
After a person quits smoking, their health can improve almost immediately. These immediate benefits include a drop in heart rate and blood pressure and a lowered carbon monoxide level. Once you’ve reached the 1 year mark, the benefits become even more significant.
Here are the benefits your body will see 1, 5 and 10 years after you quit smoking:
1 Year After You Quit Smoking
“At the one year mark, you will have noticeable improvements to your lung health,” Dr. Rizk explains. “This includes being able to breath more easily when doing physical tasks and a decrease in the amount of coughing you experience.”
Additionally, your heart will be thanking you as well. At this point your risk of coronary heart disease is half as it was when you were smoking. You heart attack risk is now also decreased.
5 Years After You Quit Smoking
5 years after you’ve quit smoking, your risk for stroke is reduced. Likewise, you risk of developing the following cancers has reduced: Cervical, mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder.
10 Years After You Quit Smoking
“In addition to all of the benefits we’ve already mentioned, your risk of dying from lung cancer is now about half the amount it was when you were smoking,” Dr. Rizk says. “Your cancer risk is also decreased for pancreatic cancer and for cancer of the larynx.”
Quitting Smoking to Improve Lung Health
Improving your lung health can be a major driver for wanting to quit smoking, and there are plenty of resources available to smokers to help them nix the habit for good. For instance, programs – like Hackensack Meridian Health’s Lung Cancer Screening Program – are available to not only provide screening for lung cancer in order to catch it early, but to help those along the way as they aim to quit smoking.
“A program like this involves scheduling lung cancer screening tests for smokers, then if they are interested signing them up for either in-person smoking cessation courses or phone counseling and regularly checking in with them throughout their journey,” explains Mike Ramsaier, Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator at Hackensack Meridian Health. “If they want, we’ll also help them by providing them with a nicotine replacement strategy.”
Sometimes, this support is just what a person needs in order to help them quit smoking for good.
“We stay in touch with these patients long-term, providing support, education, and reminders for follow up LDCT scans (low-dose CAT scans) as part of the Lung Cancer Screening Program. We assist linking patients with HMH resources to promote overall wellness strategies,” adds Bridget Paniscotti, also a Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator at Hackensack Meridian Health. “We make it a point to make real connections with the patients, and often their families as well.”
According to both Mike and Bridget, a program like theirs helps patients to detect early if they’re at risk for developing lung cancer, but also in turn can improve their quality of life.
For more information about the Hackensack Meridian Health Lung Cancer Screening Program, click here.
Curious about your lung health? You can easily assess your risk for developing lung cancer in the privacy of your home right now by taking this Lung Aware Risk Assessment. This simple and brief set of questions will help identify you as low, medium or high risk. If you are found to be at high risk, the screening test for lung cancer is easy and non-invasive, performed through a low dose radiation CAT scan. The test only takes a few minutes and is covered by insurance for most at-risk community members.
Dr. Rizk specializes in thoracic surgery, with expertise in the treatment of lung cancer, esophageal cancer and mediastinal tumors. For more information about Dr. Rizk, click here.
To learn more online about Hackensack Meridian Health’s cancer care services, visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/learnmore.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- American Cancer Society
- World Health Organization
- American Lung Association
The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.