The effects of smoking on the body include more than the well-known risk of developing lung cancer. They involve every organ in the body and can range from emphysema to infertility, and from poor healing to difficulty controlling pain. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. What are some of the other effects of smoking on the body?
CancerThe association between smoking and lung cancer is well-known, with smoking being the cause of 80 to 90% of lung cancers. But smoking contributes to the risk of several other cancers as well. Smoking is either the direct cause or a contributing factor in 30% of cancers. These include:
- Pancreatic cancer - It is thought that smoking is responsible for 30% of pancreatic cancers.
- Bladder Cancer - Smoking increases the risk of developing bladder cancer 5-fold.
- Head and Neck Cancers - Smoking can cause cancers of the mouth, tongue, larynx, and pharynx.
- Skin Cancer - People who smoke have triple the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer.
- Esophageal Cancer
- Colon Cancer - It is thought that smoking is responsible for 12% of fatal colon cancers.
- Stomach Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia
- Cervical Cancer - Smoking can accelerate cancerous changes in the cervix due to HPV.
- Ovarian Cancer
- Breast Cancer - Mounting evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer.
- Prostate Cancer - New studies are also suggesting a possible link between smoking and prostate cancer.
- Childhood Cancers - For mothers who smoke while pregnant, the risk of childhood cancers, such as retinoblastoma, may be higher in their offspring.
For people who already have cancer, smoking may lower survival and make treatments less effective.
Heart Disease and Blood VesselsSmoking can cause coronary artery disease and strokes, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States, respectively.
- Smoking-Related Heart Diseases
- Smoking and High Blood Pressure
- Smoking and Cholesterol
- Smoking and Strokes
- Smoking and Diabetes
Lung DiseaseSmoking can cause direct damage to lung tissue and introduce irritants that can result in airways spasms.
Bones and JointsSmoking can lead to thin bones and the risk of fracture, and affects joints and related tissues as well.
- Smoking and Arthritis
- Smoking and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Smoking and Osteoporosis
- Smoking and Degenerative Disc Disease
- Smoking and Bone Healing
- Smoking and Fibromyalgia
Infertility, Pregnancy, and BreastfeedingSmoking can lower the chances of becoming pregnant, increase the risk of miscarriage, result in premature births, and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- Female Infertility
- Male Infertility
- Pregnancy Complications
- Premature Birth
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Other Health Effects of Smoking
- Smoking and Pain
- Smoking and Thyroid Disease
- Smoking and Headaches
- Smoking and Multiple Sclerosis
- Heartburn and Smoking
- Smoking and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Dental Problems Associated With Tobacco Use
- Smoking and Women's Health Issues
- Smoking and Vision
Mental HealthIn addition to being an addiction, smoking can have effects on mental health:
- Depression in Teens
- Suicide Risk In Bipolar Disorder
- Brain Damage in Alcoholics
- Smoking and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Smoking and Risk of Divorce
CosmeticSome effects of smoking may not be life-threatening, but they can certainly be annoying:
LifespanSmoking shortens life by an average of 10 years. That amounts to 12% of the average lifespan in the United States.
Time to QuitThere are clearly a multitude of good reasons to quit smoking, and help is available. Our About.com Guide to Smoking Cessation has been there, and has some excellent tips:
CDC. Smoking and Tobacco Use. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Updated 12/01/09. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/
CDC. Smoking And Tobacco Use. 2004 Surgeon General’s Report – The Health Consequences of Smoking. Accessed 04/05/10. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2004/complete_report/index.htm
Stavrou, E. et al. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and childhood cancer in New South Wales: a record linkage investigation. Cancer Causes and Control. 2009. 20(9):1551-8.