The effects of smoking are serious. It can harm nearly every organ of the body. It causes nearly one of every five deaths in the United States each year.
- Is smoking a risk factor for autoimmune diseases?
- How does smoking affect my bones?
- How does smoking affect my heart and blood vessels?
- How does smoking affect my lungs and breathing?
- Can smoking affect my vision?
- Do cigarettes cause cancer?
- Do light cigarettes cause cancer?
- Do menthol cigarettes cause cancer?
- Can smoking cigars and pipes cause cancer?
The immune system is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and disease. Smoking compromises the immune system, making smokers more likely to have respiratory infections.
Smoking also causes several autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also play a role in periodic flare-ups of signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Smoking doubles your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Smoking has recently been linked to type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. Smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Additionally, the more cigarettes an individual smokes, the higher the risk for diabetes.
Recent studies show a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. Smoking is one of many factors—including weight, alcohol consumption, and activity level—that increase your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture.
Significant bone loss has been found in older women and men who smoke. Quitting smoking appears to reduce the risk for low bone mass and fractures. However, it may take several years to lower a former smoker’s risk.
In addition, smoking from an early age puts women at even higher risk for osteoporosis. Smoking lowers the level of the hormone estrogen in your body, which can cause you to go through menopause earlier, boosting your risk for osteoporosis.
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells and damage the function of your heart. This damage increases your risk for:
- Atherosclerosis, a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in your arteries
- Aneurysms, which are bulging blood vessels that can burst and cause death
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes:
- Coronary Heart disease, where platelets—components in the blood—stick together along with proteins for form clots which can then get stuck in the plaque in the walls of arteries and cause heart attacks
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs
- Stroke, which is sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or bleeding
Breathing tobacco smoke can even change your blood chemistry and damage your blood vessels. As you inhale smoke, cells that line your body’s blood vessels react to its chemicals. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up and your blood vessels thicken and narrow.
Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing and scars your lungs. Smoking causes:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that gets worse over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms
- Emphysema, a condition in which the walls between the air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back. Your lung tissue is destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
- Chronic bronchitis, which causes swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. When this happens, less air flows to and from your lungs.
People with asthma can suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke.
Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. About 70 of them are known to cause cancer. Smoking cigarettes is the number-one risk factor for lung cancer. But, smoking can affect your entire body, and is known to cause cancer in the:
- Oral Cavity
- Nasal Cavity
- Uterine Cervix
In addition, smoking is known to cause leukemia.
There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. People who smoke any kind of cigarette are at an increased risk for smoking-related diseases. Although it is no longer legal to sell light cigarettes, people who smoked light cigarettes in the past are likely to have inhaled the same amount of toxic chemicals as those who smoked regular cigarettes. They remain at high risk of developing smoking-related cancers and other diseases. Learn more about light cigarettes.
All cigarettes are harmful, including menthol cigarettes. Many smokers think menthol cigarettes are less harmful, but there is no evidence that menthol cigarettes are safer than other cigarettes. Like other cigarettes, menthol cigarettes harm nearly every organ in the body and cause many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases. Menthol cigarettes, like other cigarettes, also negatively impact male and female fertility and are harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Some research shows that menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes. More research is needed to understand how addiction differs between menthol and non-menthol cigarette use. Learn more about menthol cigarettes.
Cigar and pipe smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and non-smokers. Cigar and pipe smoking causes:
- Bladder cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Laryngeal (voice box) cancer
- Lip cancer
- Lung cancer
- Mouth cancer
- Throat cancer
- Tongue cancer
Learn more about:
- The health effects of smoking cigarettes in this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet
- How tobacco use affects your entire body in this Surgeon General Report
- Crohn’s disease from this Office of Rare Disease Research, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), page
- Smoking as a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis in this CDC page
- Smoking and bone health in this National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of NIH, osteoporosis page
- Bone health from this Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health page
- How smoking affects the heart and blood vessels from this National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) page
- The health effects of tobacco in the Surgeon General’s 2010 report (PDF – 2.06MB)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from this NHLBI page
- How smoking affects your vision in this National Eye Institute, part of NIH, page
- The risk factors for lung cancer from this CDC page
- Light cigarettes and cancer risk from this National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the NIH, page
- Light cigarettes in this CDC fact sheet
- Smoking cigars and cancer from this NCI fact sheet
Source URL: http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/smoking-health/index.html
Source Agency: Health and Human Services (HHS)
Captured Date: 2014-04-09 22:15:38.0