Unless you’ve been living in a cloud of extreme denial, you are already well aware that smoking is bad for your health. But did you know that on average, smoking shaves 10 years off of your lifespan? That is no laughing matter, and it’s certainly as good a reason as any to quit smoking today. But what’s the point (you might think) – the damage is already done, so why quit smoking now? Well, evidence shows that people who quit smoking do get years back, and just how many is determined by a combination of your current age, the amount you have smoked and lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.
Quit Smoking – Before What Age?
The University of Toronto analyzed data on 200,000 US citizens who had participated in a National Health Interview survey. According to the survey, smokers were three times more likely to die than people who had never touched a cigarette, and only half as likely to reach the age of 80. On a more positive note, they found that smoking cessation will increase your life expectancy by several years, regardless of how old you are when you choose to quit. However, the sooner you quit smoking the better, and if you quit smoking before the age of 44, you will be able to gain back close to the entire 10 years of your smoking-associated reduced life expectancy.
The researchers warn however, that this does not mean that it is safe to smoke until you are 44 and then quit, because a slightly increased risk of death will still remain—a risk that is not worth taking. According to the study, if you quit smoking between the ages of 45 and 54, you can add six years on to your current life expectancy, and if you quit between the ages of 55 and 64, you can add four years. Although the study did not examine the effects of quitting after 64, it is probably safe to assume that you will live longer if you quit than if you continue to smoke.
Related Reading: What Won’t Help You Quit Smoking
According to Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, the risk that people have for contracting and dying from smoking-related diseases, is directly related to the total number of cigarettes they have smoked in their life. As you might suspect, the greater the amount of packs you have smoked, the greater the risk for contracting and dying from a smoking-related disease. Unfortunately, if you’ve smoked approximately 18,000 packs or more (a pack a day for 50 years, or 2 packs a day for 25), your risk for lung cancer and other smoking related diseases will never return to that off a non-smoker, regardless of when you quit.
In the Process of Quitting Smoking?
If you have quit smoking or are in the process of doing so, and you truly want to live longer, the following suggestions can help you to do just that. First off, increase your intake of antioxidants, because smoking cause’s excessive free radical damage to your body and antioxidants can help to scavenge and neutralize the damaging free radicals. Fruits, vegetables and green tea are all excellent sources of antioxidants, and when consumed regularly they can help to repair some of the cellular damage you have caused to your body by smoking. Exercising regularly is also beneficial, and it can help to nullify the increased risk for heart disease and COPD that you incurred from smoking.
Live Longer – Lung Healing
The benefits of exercise don’t stop there however; exercising also helps to enhance the lung healing process. Finally, be sure to increase your intake of water, at least in the initial stages of smoking cessation, because water will help to flush out the toxins from your body and it will aid in the healing process.