Why patients should quit smoking after lung cancer

Originally published in Insidermedicine

Quitting smoking after being diagnosed with lung cancer can prolong life and reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence or the development of a new lung cancer, according to research published online ahead of print in the British Medical Journal.

Here are just a few of the effects of quitting smoking:

• After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop

• After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal

• After 2 weeks to 3 months, your circulation and lung function improve

Researchers from University of Birmingham analyzed data taken from 10 studies that explored the effects of quitting smoking on the survival and health of individuals who were diagnosed with lung cancer. Most of the individuals included in these studies had early stage disease.

Overall, continuing to smoke after a diagnosis of lung cancer increased the risk of death by nearly two to three times. It also substantially increased the risk of recurrence of the initial cancer or the development of a new lung cancer. The researchers estimated that a 65-year old with early stage non-small cell lung cancer who quit smoking had a 70% chance of living another five years. If that same person decided not to quit, the chance of living that long dropped to 33%.

Today’s research demonstrates that there are definite health benefits to quitting smoking, even after being diagnosed with lung cancer.