A smoke-free body A smoke-free body

A smoke-free body

WITH YOUR WORLD 5 December, 2018 Ana María López de Mesa


When you stop smoking, the body gradually detoxifies itself from the chemicals in the cigarette. Over time, your heart, lungs and skin benefit from this, improving your quality of life.

Medical Advisor Clara Inés Manrique, toxicologist from Universidad CES

Dealing with withdrawals

When people stop smoking, they generally experience withdrawals which is why family support is so important to cope with quitting – and if necessary – a specialized team. During this process, the individual experiences cognitive changes. Because nicotine is a stimulant for the nervous system, quitting affects people’s memories and capacity to pay attention. This makes people more sensitive as they begin to experience irritability, anxiety and begin to lose interest in things. It also affects their bodies as they undergo digestive changes that cause constipation or diarrhea. This phase lasts between 4 to 6 months. After this period is over, however, willpower is an essential part of not relapsing, which is why setting a date to quit and making an action plan are measures that can help you to leave this habit behind. Give yourself this opportunity!

3 to 5 years after quitting this habit, the body returns to the state of someone who has never smoked.

The body’s recovery process:

  • 24 hours

The levels of carbon monoxide in the lungs are reduced, which increases the amount of oxygen in the blood. The body begins to recover its sense of smell, and food tastes better.

  • 4 days

Nicotine and its derivatives are completely eliminated from the body. Other compounds such as tar that are built up in the lungs may take years to go away.

  • 2 weeks

The skin begins to recover the elasticity and moisture that it lost due to smoking. The nails also return to their natural color.

  • 3 months

Lung function improves and there is a decrease in coughing, nasal congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath.

  • 1 year

The risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke decreases by up to 50% and continues to decrease over time.

  • 10 years

The risk of lung cancer is reduced by 30% to 50% and the chance of developing other cancers decreases such as mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas cancer.

 See also: Make quitting a goal