When discussing how smoking impacts your risk of developing lung disease, it is important to understand that smoking does affect more organ systems in your body than just your lungs. However, for this particular evaluation, we'll look at the two primary lung diseases that are widely associated with smoking, lung cancer and COPD.
Studies have shown a reduced risk for lung cancer after quitting. For those who quit smoking for at least 10 years, their risk is 30-50% less than current smokers. At 15 years, the risk may be 80-90% less than current smokers. An estimated 90% of all lung cancer is related to smoking. As of 2007, lung cancer mortality was an astounding 50%.
Studies also show the progression of lung disease like COPD is slowed after someone stops smoking. The earlier the smoker quits, the less damage they’ll have. This translates to a better quality of life while experiencing greater independence with less need for medications, therapy and healthcare services. Former smokers also report less coughing and phlegm (mucous) after one year.
There are a number of other lung disease that are associated with or made worse by smoking such as idiopathic lung disease (like sarcoidosis), asthma and the like.