Health Effects of Smoking
Cigarette smoking has disastrous consequences: It damages just about every organ of the body and leads to the general deterioration of the smoker’s health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly one of every five deaths in the United States, or about 438,000 deaths every year. Cigarette smoking is deadlier on an annual basis than HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle crashes, drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide, and murder … combined.
Smoking and Cancer:
Cancer was one of the first diseases that researchers linked to cigarette smoking, and it continues to be smoking’s most notorious health effect. Cigarette smoking and tobacco use causes about one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States.
Lung cancer is most closely linked to cigarette smoking. Smoking causes nearly all lung cancer deaths in America, about 90 percent of male deaths and 80 percent of female deaths. The chances that a male smoker will die of lung cancer is 23 times that of someone who’s never smoked, while women who smoke run a risk 13 times greater than non-smokers.
But lung cancer is far from the only form of cancer attributable to cigarette smoking. Researchers have also linked smoking to cancers of the bladder, larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, kidney, and cervix. Smoking also is a known cause of some forms of leukemia.
Smoking and Respiratory Disease:
Breathing in cigarette smoke is terribly harmful to the lungs. The damage starts with the first puff and continues until the smoker quits. About 9 out of 10 deaths from lung diseases are caused by smoking. A cigarette smoker’s risk of dying from a chronic obstructive lung disease like chronic bronchitis or emphysema is 10 times that of non-smokers:
- Chronic bronchitis occurs when cigarette smoke prompts the airways to produce too much protective mucus. The smoker develops a chronic cough to clear their airways of the mucus so they can breathe. The airways swell and become blocked by scar tissue and mucus. The smoker with bronchitis has a higher risk of contracting pneumonia.
- Emphysema occurs as cigarette smoke destroys the tiny air sacs inside the lungs that allow oxygen to be diffused into the bloodstream. The process destroys the smoker’s ability to draw breath, eventually making them gasp and struggle for air.
Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease:
Smoking also affects the heart and the circulatory system, and has been linked to coronary heart disease (CHD), the number one killer in the United States. Cigarette smokers are as much as four times more likely to be diagnosed with CHD than non-smokers, and are twice as likely to suffer strokes.
Other Health Effects of Smoking: Cigarette smoking’s effects are wide spread and include damage to:
- Skin. Smoking prematurely ages the skin, causing facial wrinkles. It also slows the skin’s healing ability and has been linked to skin cancer.
- Eyes. Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts, a condition in which the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy.
- Mouth. Smoking is estimated to be responsible for three of every four cases of periodontal disease in the United States. Toxins contained in cigarette smoke damage the gums, causing them to recede and putting the smoker at greater risk for tooth decay.
Although the health consequences of smoking are dire, it’s important to remember that you can take control of your health by quitting. Once you give up cigarettes your body can begin to repair some of the damage smoking has caused.
By – Assistant Professor – Himashu Thapliyal
B.Sc. MLT Department
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital