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How Does Smoking Affect the Body?

Smoking causes many adverse effects in the body, some of which may be life-threatening. It increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, or other conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention smoking affects almost all the organs of the body and is a cause of many diseases.(1) Smoking cigarettes affects the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, skin, and eyes and increases the risk of many types of cancers.

How Does Smoking Affect the Body?

Effect of Smoking on Lungs

Smoking may damage the lungs as the person inhales nicotine along with other chemicals. Cigarettes are known to increase the risk of developing lung cancer. The risk is more in men than in women.(1)

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 9-10% of lung cancer death are linked to smoking.(1)

Smoking cigarette increases the risk of developing and dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. According to the American Lung Association, it causes 80% of chronic obstructive pulmonary deaths.(2)

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Cigarette smoking also is a risk factor for other diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It may also exacerbate asthma attacks.

Heart Diseases

Smoking may cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, and blood cells. The chemicals and tar present in it may increase the risk of atherosclerosis or plaque build-up in the arteries. This build-up limits the blood flow and may lead to dangerous blockage.

Smoking may also increase the risk of peripheral artery disease, which occurs due to the narrowing of the arteries of the arms and legs, restricting blood flow. Research shows the link between smoking and the development of peripheral artery disease.(3)

Smoking and Fertility Problems

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Smoking causes damage to the female’s reproductive system and may lead to problems in getting pregnant.(4) This may be due to the effect of tobacco and other chemicals in cigarettes that may alter hormone levels.

In males, smoking may lead to erectile dysfunction. It may also affect the quality of sperm thereby reducing the fertility rate.

Smoking and Pregnancy Complications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking may affect pregnancy and cause complications including:

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  • Increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Reducing the baby’s weight
  • Increasing the risk of preterm delivery
  • Causing damage to fetal lungs and the central nervous system
  • Increasing the risk of sudden death in infant
  • Contributing to congenital abnormalities such as cleft lip and cleft palate

Smoking and Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Smoking may also be a risk factor that increases type 2 diabetes. People who smoke regularly have a 30-40 percent higher risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes.(1)

Smoking may also make it difficult for people with diabetes to manage the condition.

Smoking May Weaken the Immune System

Smoking may weaken the immune system and increase the risk of suffering from a disease. It may also additionally cause inflammation.

Smoking and Vision Problems

Eye problems that are related to smoking include cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.(1)

Smoking and Poor Dental Hygiene

People who smoke frequently have poor dental hygiene and are at an increased risk of gum disease. The risk increases with the increase in the frequency of cigarette smoking. A person with gum disease may have swollen and tender gums, loose teeth, bleeding when brushing, and sensitive teeth.

Smoking may also limit a person’s ability to smell and taste properly. It may also stain the teeth yellow or brown.

Effect of Smoking on Skin, Hair, and Nails

Tobacco smoke may affect a person’s skin, hair, and nails. A person who smokes frequently has prematurely aged and wrinkled skin. Other effects of smoking include:

  • Dry skin
  • Deeper facial wrinkles
  • Furrows
  • Uneven skin pigmentation
  • Baggy eyes
  • Saggy jawline

People who smoke have a higher risk of skin cancer.(5) Smoking may also increase the risk of hair fall and nail discoloration.

Smoking and Cancer Risk

Smoking is known to increase the risk of lung and other types of cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society smoking cigarettes is linked with 20-30 percent of pancreatic cancer risk.(6) Also, people who smoke are three times as likely to develop bladder cancer.(7) Smoking may also double the risk of stomach cancer in a person.(8)

Other types of cancer linked with smoking include:

Smoking and the Digestive System

Smoking cigarettes can be of major risk to the digestive system as smokers are more at risk of developing gastritis i.e., the inflammation of the stomach lining.(8) Smoking can also slow down the peristalsis and delay stomach emptying.

Smoking and Central Nervous System

Smoking can damage the central nervous system as nicotine increases blood pressure and heart rate and weakens the organs over time.

A study showed that smoking tobacco could seriously impact neurological health.(9)

Smoking cigarettes harms a person’s health and increases the risk of many conditions. Quitting smoking may reduce the risk of health problems and improve a person’s overall health.

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