Dr. Mark Anderson: When It Comes To Smoking, It's Good To Be A Quitter

UW Health Family Medicine physician Dr. Mark AndersonMadison, Wisconsin - UW Health Family Medicine physician Mark Anderson writes a monthly column for The Herald-Independent, which covers Monona and Cottage Grove. Columns are re-published here with permission.


Do you have 20 minutes?

It takes only 20 minutes to start noticing benefits to your body after you quit smoking. After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, starting to return towards normal.


After 12 hours, the level of carbon monoxide in your body returns to a normal level.


After only several weeks, your blood flow and lung function start to improve.

Within several months, the lungs begin to heal and you should feel less short of breath and cough less.


Only a year after you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease will have dropped to 50 percent of what it was before quitting.


At five years after quitting smoking, your risk of tobacco-related cancers is cut to 50 percent of that of a current smoker.


Ten years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer will have dropped by 50 percent.


Once you are smoke-free for 15 years, your risk of heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker.


Do you want to quit smoking? Do you know someone who needs to quit? Quitting on your own can be hard. Many studies have looked at success rates of people trying to quit smoking. In general, only around five percent of people quit on any given attempt without help. Medicines alone can increase your chance of quitting for at least six months to around 25 percent.


Your chance of quitting for at least six months can increase even more if you use medications plus counseling, behavioral modification and/or emotional support. Talk to your doctor to find out more about the many treatments we recommend, including: counseling, group support, phone/text support, nicotine replacement and prescription drugs. There are also many alternative treatments with varying levels of scientific support, including the new e-cigarettes, acupuncture, hypnosis and herbal medicines.


Seeing how quickly you can reach these milestones is pretty inspiring in a world where most good changes take time. But with every milestone you reach, you're increasing your likelihood of reaching the next one. Just think, in 20 minutes you could no longer be a smoker and be on your way to a healthier future!


If you don't have time to make an appointment, there are many resources available to you online, including:


This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or a diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about your concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Anderson.

Date Published: 02/15/2013

News tag(s):  mark c anderson

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