Cigarette Smoking (cont.)
Cigarette Smoking Prognosis
For smokers, quality and length of life depends on the number and severity of smoking-associated illnesses they may develop and if they have other medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Other lifestyle factors, for example, use of alcohol or other drugs also make a difference in long-term outcomes for smokers. For smokers who quit, projected health and life expectancy improve markedly at any age of life.
- Smokers who quit before age 50 years have half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared with those who continue to smoke.
- Quitting smoking substantially decreases the risk of lung, larynx, esophageal, oral, pancreatic, bladder, and cervical cancers. For example, 10 years after quitting, an ex-smoker has lower risk of lung cancer compared to a continuing smoker. Continued smoking abstinence continues to lower the risk.
- Quitting lowers the risk for other major diseases including coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. The increased risk of coronary heart disease halves after 1 year of abstinence. After 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease approximates that of someone who never smoked.
- Women who stop smoking before pregnancy, or during the first 3 or 4 months of pregnancy, reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby to that of women who never smoked.
- The health benefits of quitting far exceed any risks from the average 5-pound weight gain that may follow quitting.
Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease
American Cancer Society. Cigarette Smoking.
American Lung Association. Tobacco Industry Marketing.
Centers for Disease Control. Tobacco Use.
FDA.gov. Cigarette Warning Labels.
Gundel, L., et al., Formation of carcinogens indoors
by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to
potential thirdhand smoke hazards. PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912820107, 2010
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/26/2015