A person putting out a cigarette.
Healthy Living

Smoking Risk Factors: How This Habit Affects Your Entire Body

Jul 14 2020

You probably already know that smoking is dangerous. You may even know it can cause lung cancer. But you may not know about the many other risk factors for smokers.

The truth is that cigarettes are filled with harmful substances, like nicotine. They also fill your lungs with tar and carbon monoxide. All this combined can have devastating effects on your body, even when you’re not actually smoking.

When it comes to COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists smokers in the high-risk category for this virus. Learn more about all the risks you are taking when you smoke.

Smoking and your lungs

The first parts of the body that smoking damages are your lungs. Not only does it put you at risk for lung cancer, but smokers may develop other problems. These include COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. All these conditions make it hard to breathe and involve damage your lungs. Additionally, smoking can worsen breathing problems like asthma.

Smoking and your heart

What many people don’t realize is that smoking can also damage the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. This system allows blood to flow through your body. People who smoke are at a greater risk for damage to their blood vessels. They’re more likely to have plaque buildup in the heart, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm and high cholesterol.

Smoking can also cause heart disease and heart failure.  Over time, it can slow or prevent the flow of blood to your legs and other parts of your body. Smoking may even cause you to have a stroke.

Smoking and cancer

If you’re a smoker, lung cancer isn’t the only type of cancer you should worry about. Smoking can lead to several cancers that affect your mouth and throat, and even cause leukemia. Smoking can also lead to cancer in other organs, including your:

  • Bladder
  • Cervix
  • Colon
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Rectum
  • Stomach

Smoking and sex

If you want a healthy sex life, it’s best to stop smoking. This is especially true if you want to have a baby in the future.

Women who smoke are more likely to have trouble getting pregnant. They’re also at a higher risk of having life-threatening problems during their pregnancies. Premature births, extreme bleeding during labor, miscarriages and stillborn babies may also occur. All these factors put the baby’s and the mom’s lives at risk.

If you smoke while you’re pregnant, your baby is more likely to have birth defects or die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Smoking can also cause problems in the bedroom for men. Because it limits blood flow, smoking can lead to erectile dysfunction. It can also harm a man’s sperm count, affecting his ability to have a child.

Smoking and other health issues

Lung disease, heart disease, cancer and problems with sex and pregnancy are only a few of the issues that smoking can cause. People who smoke often have problems with their gums and teeth. They may even experience tooth loss. They’re at greater risk for diabetes, cataracts, broken bones, ulcers, blindness, rheumatoid arthritis and a weakened immune system.

Smoking can even affect the way you physically look. Smokers tend to have stained, yellow teeth, and their skin ages faster than normal. Smoking can increase the appearance of lines and wrinkles in your skin.

Leading cause of death

Unfortunately, many of the problems smoking causes can lead to death. In the United States, cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable deaths.  More people die from smoking than they do from motor vehicle accidents, alcohol use and illegal drug use. You may be surprised to learn that more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer. And around 90% of all people who die from lung cancer were smokers.

If you’d like to take charge of your health and stop smoking, we can help. Learn more about tobacco addiction on our website.  

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