Dangers of Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking hurts you- it causes sickness, death and disability.  But the harmful effects of smoking may be worse than you realize!

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Smoking Causes Cancer

  • Smoking causes cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx (voicebox), lung, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, and bladder.
  • Smoking causes cancers of the stomach, cervix, kidneys, pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood.
  • Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer. Smokers are about 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80 percent in women.
  • Using both cigarettes and alcohol causes most cases of larynx cancer.
  • Certain agents in tobacco smoke can damage important genes that control the growth of cells and lead to cancer.
  • Smoking low-tar cigarettes does not reduce your risk for lung cancer.

Smoking Causes Cardiovascular Disease

  • You are up to four times more likely to die from coronary heart disease if you smoke.
  • Smoking causes atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of your arteries.
  • Smoking causes coronary heart disease.
  • Smoking low-tar or low-nicotine cigarettes rather than regular cigarettes does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Smoking causes strokes.
  • Smoking causes abdominal aortic aneurysms, a dangerous weakening and ballooning of the major artery near your stomach.

Smoking Causes Respiratory Diseases

  • Smoking causes injury to the airways and the lungs, leading to a deadly lung condition.
  • Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have upper and lower breathing tract infections.
  • Mothers who smoke during pregnancy hurt the lungs of their babies.
  • If you smoke during childhood and teenage years, it slows your lung growth and causes your lungs to decline at a younger age.
  • Smoking is related to chronic coughing, wheezing, and asthma among children, teens and adults.
  • After stopping smoking, former smokers eventually return to normal age-related lung function

Smoking Harms Reproduction

  • Smoking causes lower fertility in women.
  • Babies of women who smoke are more likely to be born too early.
  • Smoking during pregnancy causes placenta previa and placental abruption. These conditions can cause a baby to be born too early and then be sick.
  • The nicotine in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the fetus.
  • Smoking causes reduced fetal growth and low birth weight.
  • Smoking by the mother can cause SIDS.

Other Effects of Smoking

  • Smokers are less healthy than nonsmokers.
  • Smokers are more likely to be absent from work than nonsmokers.
  • Smokers use medical care services more often than nonsmokers.
  • After surgery, smokers have more problems with wound healing and more respiratory complications.
  • For women, smoking causes your bones to lose density after menopause.
  • Smoking increases your risk of hip fractures.
  • Smoking causes half of all cases of adult periodontitis, a serious gum infection that can cause pain and tooth loss.
  • For men, smoking may cause sexual problems.
  • Smoking increases your risk for cataracts, a leading cause of blindness in the United States and worldwide. Smokers are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking causes peptic ulcers in smokers with Helicobacter pylori infections. Compared with nonsmokers, smokers with this infection are more likely to develop ulcers and to have complications of an ulcer. In severe cases, this condition can lead to death.

For more information about the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on “The Health Consequences of Smoking” click here

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