What're the health effects of smoking?
The main health risks in tobacco smoking pertain to diseases of the respiratory tract (particularly lung cancer) and also to diseases of the cardiovascular system, in particular smoking being a major risk factor for a myocardial infarction (heart
attack). Cancers of the larynx and tongue are also important causes of mortality and morbidity.
A person's increased risk of contracting disease is directly proportional to the length of time that a person continues to smoke as well as the amount smoked. However, if someone stops smoking, then these chances steadily although gradually decrease as the damage to their body is repaired.
Most smokers are aware of specific risks associated with smoking—lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis—but smoking impacts nearly all aspects of your health.
Heart. The effects of cigarette smoking on the cardiovascular system are multifold: Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), even in adolescents. Smoking deteriorates the elastic properties of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body, which increases the risk for developing blood clots. Smoking increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, putting additional stress on the system that regulates the heart and blood vessels. In women, smoking increases risk for cardiovascular disease because it effects hormones that cause estrogen deficiency. Those who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have almost two and a half times the risk for having a stroke as nonsmokers.
Cancer. Smoking is the cause of nearly 85 percent of all cases of lung cancer in the United States, but smoking accounts for other types of cancers as well. Because cigarettes contain so many chemicals, cancer may develop from the accumulative effects of more than one of these carcinogens. Tar from cigarettes causes specific DNA damage to the lungs, making it particularly difficult for cells to repair. Smoking and smokeless tobacco (chew) account for over 60 percent of cancers of the throat, mouth and esophagus. Smokers have higher rates of leukemia, and cancers of the stomach, bladder, kidney and pancreas. About 30 percent of cervical cancers have been attributed to smoking.
Bones and joints. Smoking has many negative effects on bones and joints since it impairs formation of new bone. Women who smoke are at an exceptionally high risk for developing osteoporosis, and women smokers have a slightly increased chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smokers are also more disposed to developing degenerative disorders and injuries in the spine.
Other Disorders. Smoking increases acid secretion, reduces prostaglandin and bicarbonate production and decreases mucosal blood flow—which can cause peptic ulcers. Smoking also delays the healing of gastric and duodenal ulcers. Cyanedim, a chemical found in cigarette smoke, interferes with thyroid hormone production, which can lead to thyroid disease. Heavy smokers are at risk for developing cataracts of the eye, and smokers also have twice the risk of nonsmokers for developing macular degeneration, an age-related eye disorder. Smokers look older than nonsmokers since smokers develop more and deeper wrinkles as they age. Women who smoke are at greater risk for infertility. Those at greatest risk are women show smoke a pack or more per day, or those who started smoking before age 18.
Bad skin. Because smoking restricts blood vessels, it can prevent oxygen and nutrients from getting to the skin - which is why smokers often appear pale and unhealthy. An Italian study also linked smoking to an increased risk of getting a type of skin rash called psoriasis.
Bad breath. All those cigarettes leave smokers with a condition called halitosis, or persistent bad breath.
Bad-smelling clothes and hair. The smell of stale smoke tends to linger - not just on people's clothing, but on their hair, furniture, and cars. And it's often hard to get the smell of smoke out.
Reduced athletic performance. People who smoke usually can't compete with nonsmoking peers because the physical effects of smoking - like rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath - impair sports performance.
Greater risk of injury and slower healing time. Smoking affects the body's ability to produce collagen, so common sports injuries, such as damage to tendons and ligaments, will heal more slowly in smokers than nonsmokers.