Quit Smoking to Strengthen Your Immune System

The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against everything from the common cold to different cancers, but smoking acts as a double-edged sword against your immune system: it increases your risk of getting disease, while reducing your ability to fight it off.

When you smoke, your body’s natural defense system becomes disrupted. Because smoke damages your sensitive lung tissues, you’re at higher risk for respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. The tar and other harmful toxins found in cigarette smoke can interfere with immune cells and disrupt antibody production, making you less capable of fighting off infections and may prolong the duration of the sickness. Habitual smoking also increases the risk of developing autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that results in the immune system attacking the joints and causing inflammation and pain.

Quitting helps your body reverse the negative effects of cigarette smoke and regain its ability to combat disease, but there are also additional ways you can help strengthen your body’s immune system. Eating a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, and other minimally processed ingredients can provide you with the nutrients you need to preserve and fuel your immune system. Getting enough sunlight and regular physical activity can also help quicken your immune response.

The best way to start the path toward better immune function is quitting. Get a quit buddy, try smoking aids, enlist the help of your family or groups — anything you can do to feel supported as you power through cravings and onward to ultimate success. The good news is, the minute you stop smoking, your immune function and health will start improving.