Health Risks of Smoking
The effects of smoking are alarming. It kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. Plus, thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes. It’s the leading cause of death and preventable illness in the U.S.
The dangers of smoking are severe. Smoking causes weight gain and reduced sex drive. It causes nicotine addiction, which can lead to constant nervousness and stress. It delays the healing of wounds, increasing the risk of infection after surgery. Smoking risks also include exposure to secondhand smoke, which is responsible for the death of over 50,000 nonsmokers every year. Smoking can also lead to a long list of illnesses and chronic diseases, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer and more.
Lung cancer from smoking is the number-one cause of cancer death for men and women. Smoking also leads to liver, colorectal and breast cancer. Smokeless tobacco leads to esophageal, mouth and pancreatic cancer.
Smoking causes type 2 diabetes, and worsens it too. Smokers have more “belly” fat, which makes the body resistant to insulin. This worsens the control they have over their blood sugar.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills more smokers aged 35 and older than lung cancer. CVD includes narrow or blocked arteries in and around the heart (coronary heart disease), high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke and heart-related chest pain (angina pectoris).
Smoking is the main cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an incurable lung disease. It results in shortness of breath, coughing, swollen airways, scar tissue and death.
Asthma is another serious breathing disorder that can be caused or worsened by smoking.
Smoking is a cause of erectile dysfunction in men. Pregnant women who smoke are at risk for a wide range of reproductive disorders that can harm babies and unborn children, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), preterm delivery, low birth weight and birth defects like cleft lips and/or cleft palates.
Smoking can damage blood vessels around the discs and joints of your back, causing chronic lower back pain. It is also the main cause of Buerger’s disease, an inflammation of the blood vessels in your arms and legs. This swelling creates blood clots in your arteries and veins, which can damage or destroy skin tissue and lead to infection.
- Skin – Smoking weakens blood circulation, increasing the risk of skin infections. It also causes wrinkles and acne.
- Hair – Smokers are more likely to go bald and grey than others.
- Mouth – Tobacco yellows teeth as tar builds up in the tooth enamel. This also leads to bad breath.
For more information on the health effects of smoking and the dangers of tobacco, click here.