People who smoke give a lot of reasons to why they smoke. Some smoke because it help them to relax, some smoke because it give them moral to do things that they would not do ordinarily, some smoke to show off to their friends that they are man enough. But beside smoking giving these benefits, have you ever wondered the dangers that smoking can create for your body?
Smoking cigarettes affects the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the reproductive system, the skin, and the eyes, and it increases the risk of many different cancers.
Let us take a look below at some of the health implications of smoking.
1. Lung damage
Smoking cigarettes affects lung health because a person breathes in not only nicotine but also a variety of additional chemicals.
Cigarettes are responsible for a substantial increase in the risk of developing lung cancer. This risk is 25 times greater for men and 25.7 times greater for women.
The CDC report that roughly 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths is linked to smoking.
Smoking cigarettes also presents a greater risk of developing and dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). In fact, the American Lung Association report that smoking causes 80 percent of COPD deaths.
Cigarettes are also linked to developing emphysema and chronic bronchitis. They can also trigger or exacerbate an asthma attack.
2. Heart disease
Smoking cigarettes can damage the heart, blood vessels, and blood cells.
The chemicals and tar in cigarettes can increase a person’s risk of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. This buildup limits blood flow and can lead to dangerous blockages.
Smoking also increases the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when the arteries to the arms and legs start to narrow, restricting blood flow.
Research shows a direct link between smoking and developing PAD. Even those who used to smoke face a higher risk than people who never smoked.
Having PAD increases the risk of experiencing:
- Blood clots
- Angina, or chest pain
- A stroke
- A heart attack
3. Fertility problems
Smoking cigarettes can damage a female’s reproductive system and make it more difficult to get pregnant. This may be because tobacco and the other chemicals in cigarettes affect hormone levels.
In males, the more cigarettes a person smokes and the longer they smoke for, the higher the risk of erectile dysfunction. Smoking can also affect the quality of the sperm and therefore reduce fertility.
4. Risk of pregnancy complications
Smoking can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy and reduce the baby’s birth weight.
According to the CDC, smoking can affect pregnancy and the developing fetus in several ways, including:
- Increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy
- Reducing the baby’s birth weight
- Increasing the risk of preterm delivery
- Damaging the fetus’s lungs, brain, and central nervous system
- Increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
- Contributing to congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate
5. Risk of type 2 diabetes
The CDC report that people who smoke regularly have a 30–40 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who do not.
Smoking can also make it more difficult for people with diabetes to manage their condition.
6. Weakened immune system
Smoking cigarettes can weaken a person’s immune system, making them more susceptible to illness.
It can also cause additional inflammation in the body.
7. Vision problems
Smoking cigarettes can cause eye problems, including a greater risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Other vision problems related to smoking include:
- Dry eyes
- Diabetic retinopathy
8. Poor oral hygiene
People who smoke have double the risk of gum disease. This risk increases with the number of cigarettes a person smokes.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swollen and tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Smoking tobacco can limit a person’s ability to taste and smell things properly. It can also stain the teeth yellow or brown.
9. Unhealthy skin and hair
Smoking tobacco can affect a person’s skin and hair. A person who smokes may experience prematurely aged, wrinkled skin. They also have a higher risk of skin cancer, “especially on the lips.”
Smoking can cause the hair and skin to smell of tobacco. It can also contribute to hair loss and balding.
10. Risk of other cancers
In addition to the well-documented link with lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can also contribute to other forms of cancer.
The American Cancer Society report that cigarette smoking causes 20–30 percent of pancreatic cancers.
People who smoke are also three times as likely to develop bladder cancer than people who do not.
Smoking cigarettes can also double a person’s risk of stomach cancer. Tobacco is especially linked to stomach cancers that occur near the esophagus.
Cigarettes can also increase the risk of:
- Mouth cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Throat cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Liver cancer
- Colon cancer
- Acute myeloid leukemia
The ill effects of smoking cigarettes do not only affect people who smoke. Secondhand smoke can also have significant health effects on family members, friends, and coworkers.
Effects of exposure to secondhand smoke include:
- Increasing the risk of colds and ear infections
- Making asthma worse
- Raising blood pressure
- Damaging the heart
- Reducing levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol