Cigarettes’ harmful claim to fame isn’t limited to your lungs, heart, or blood vessels. Did you know that smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the US? Over 440,000 deaths per year are associated with smoking. Smoking not only cuts lives short, but it greatly decreases quality of life.
How else does smoking hurt your body? Let's take a look, so you will have a better idea.
Smoking is a leading cause of many types of cancers. Exposure to the harsh chemicals in tobacco affect the all of the body's cells. Most cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals, including cyanide and formaldehyde. Nearly 70 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.
The list of smoking-related cancers includes:
By reducing blood supply, smoking weakens both muscles and bones. It also slows the production of bone-forming cells and keeps your body from absorbing calcium. Here are some of the effects:
Smoking hurts the digestive system, which means the body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs. Some digestive conditions which may be caused by smoking include:
Smokers notice the change in their brains almost the minute they light up. Smoking quickly changes brain chemistry, affecting mood and often leading to addiction. Brain chemistry changes, as well as decreased blood flow, increase the risk for:
Smokers are at increased risk of developing the most common type of diabetes.
Here are a few of smoking’s other effects:
The benefits of quitting begin almost immediately. Your heart rate and blood pressure drop within minutes. Your circulation and breathing improve within weeks. And, among other improvements, your risk of stroke much lower after 5 years of quitting. Although it’s best to quit when you’re younger, you can benefit at any age.
Bjartveit K and Tverdal A. Health consequences of smoking 1–4 cigarettes per day. Tobacco Control. 2005;14:315-320.
Depression basics. Smokefree.gov website. Available at: http://smokefree.gov/depression-and-smoking. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Health effects of cigarette smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking. Updated February 6, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Questions about smoking, tobacco, and health. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002974-pdf.pdf. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Smoking. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/smoking.html. Updated April 18, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Smoking. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/health-effects/smoking.html. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Smoking and adults. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts-figures/smoking-and-older-adults.html. Updated February 2010. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Smoking and musculoskeletal health. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00192. Updated May 2010. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Smoking and your digestive system. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/smoking/index.htm. Updated September 14, 2013. Accessed August 14, 2015.
When smokers quit—What are the benefits over time? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-benefits. Updated February 6, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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