Quitting smoking is famously hard. However, according to recent findings, the sooner one stops, the better. Perhaps today is the day?
Smoking tobacco, as most of us are well aware, increases the risk of a wide range of serious health issues.
Associated conditions include heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and several types of cancer.
Despite many of these dangers being common knowledge, giving up tobacco is challenging in the extreme. That said, cigarette smoking is on the decline in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people who currently smoke in the U.S. has dropped from 20.9 percent of the adult population in 2005 to 15.5 percent in 2016.
The fact that so many people are giving up also means that there are now millions of people who used to smoke.
Only time heals
The analysis showed that 70 percent of cardiovascular events occurred in those who smoke or used to smoke the equivalent of 20 cigarettes per day for 20 years.
Compared with those who continued to smoke, individuals who had quit smoking within the past 5 years reduced their cardiovascular disease risk by 38 percent.
They also showed that it took around 16 years from the last cigarette for the risk of cardiovascular disease to return to the same levels as someone who had never smoked. This is significantly longer than previous estimates.
The team presented these findings at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2018, held in Chicago, IL. The study was authored by Meredith Duncan, a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN.
Although challenging in the extreme, these results make it clear that quitting sooner rather than later is the best course of action.
These findings underscore the benefits of quitting smoking within 5 years, which is 38 percent lower risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other forms of cardiovascular disease risk compared to people who continue to smoke.
Despite record numbers of people quitting, according to the CDC, smoking tobacco is still “the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the [U.S.],” accounting for more than 480,000 deaths each year.
As Duncan writes, “The bottom line is, if you smoke, now is a very good time to quit.”