by Mark A. Kelley

This blog originally appeared on HealthWeb Navigator.

As a lung specialist, I am often asked whether the body can recover from many years of smoking. Based on decades of research, the answer is a resounding β€œYes” … but only if you quit smoking β€” completely.

What Are The Risks of Smoking?

Cigarette smoking kills over 480,000 Americans each year β€” more than the combined deaths from alcohol, illegal drug use, homicide, suicide, car accidents, and AIDS combined.

Cancer – Before cigarette smoking became widespread in the twentieth century, lung cancer was a rare disease. However, as smoking became popular, lung cancer rose to become a leading cause of death. Scientific research demonstrated that the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are carcinogenic. Smoking is also associated with cancers of the throat and digestive tract.

Heart and Vascular Disease – There is a strong association between smoking and the development of atherosclerosis, the “hardening of the arteries” that causes heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms. These conditions are among the major

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