Quitting smoking and lung cancer

It’s my understanding that after you quit smoking, after a certain number of years, your chance of contracting a smoking-related illness (such as lung cancer) becomes the same as a non-smoker. Is that true or am I remembering incorrectly?

The rule of thumb is that the risk for lung cancer returns to baseline (or close) after about 20 years smoking cessation. I’m not sure if this is true for throat cancer, but it may well be.

The risks of heart disease and stroke “normalize” faster.

The benefits are greater, the younger you quit, with longevity similar to non-smokers if you quit before age 35.

Here is a Washington Post article:

Thanks for the article.

So if I’m understanding correctly, let’s say, if a 60-year-old woman who hasn’t smoked since age 35 suddenly discovers from a routine doctor’s checkup that she has terminal lung cancer (which hasn’t even shown any symptoms yet) then it’s safe to assume that, in this case, her cancer was not caused by smoking all those years ago?

(As some may have surmised, yes this does concern a real-world situation – not me personally, though.)

The evidence does not show that smoking causes cancer. It is a major risk factor. In the case you propose statistically people develop lung cancer at the same rate as non-smokers. Whether her previous smoking was factor in her lung cancer is anyone’s guess.

It also matters how long and how much. Someone who started smoking at 12, and by 20 was up to 3 packs a day, but managed to quit at 35, will take longer to return to the same risk as a non-smoker as a person who began smoking at 21, and smoked a half a pack a day, then also quit at 35. At least, that’s what the poster at my doctor’s office says.

But according to the poster, yeah, you do eventually become essentially as healthy as a non-smoker with the same lifestyle vis a vis diet, exercise, work factors (coal miners have more risk factors than engineers who work in clean rooms), plus genetic factors.

Jeanne calment quit smoking in 1995 and died in 1997. It’s hard to say if the fact she had smoked for over 100 years killed her or the fact she was 122 at the time of her death. :smiley: