Aging Preventive Service

To Make Aging Easier, Quit Smoking

Lighting up a cigarette may indulge a nicotine craving … but are the health issues associated with smoking worth it?

The well-known medical problems that can be caused by smoking include cancer, heart disease and emphysema. However, according to a study reported in Archives of Internal Medicine, smoking speeds up the aging process and can put a damper on your plans to grow old gracefully. In fact, smoking can cut an average of 10 years from your lifespan and may negatively affect quality of life.

People who smoke may feel older than their years and have more difficulty performing daily activities in old age, compared to nonsmokers. Physical tasks such as climbing stairs, walking and carrying groceries are generally more difficult for aging smokers with nicotine built up in their systems.

Besides compromising health and quality of life, smoking can also affect your appearance – wrinkles, dry skin and discolored teeth are common in smokers and can even make young people look older. And if you suffer from chronic pain, smoking can actually increase your pain levels. Smokers are much more likely to report problems with persistent musculoskeletal pain than non-smokers, according to a 2011 study reported in the Journal of Pain, published by the American Pain Society.

Enjoy a new you and help yourself age gracefully by not lighting up. If you do smoke, getting help to quit now can improve your health and add years back to your life.

If you need help quitting, speak to your doctor about your options, including QuitWorks, a free online smoking cessation program offered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct. 13, 2008


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