Smoking is an extremely harmful habit that affects your health in several ways. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use claims about 80 lakh lives every year, including an estimated 10.3 lakh non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoking.
While smoking is the leading cause of lung diseases, contributing to more than 80% of lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) cases worldwide, it can also impact other organs in the body, leading to various complications. Let’s take a look at the seven most common effects of smoking.
Heart Disease Risk
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. As per a 2020 news release by the WHO, 10.9 lakh people die from tobacco-induced heart disease each year. This is equal to one in five of all deaths from heart disease.
Every puff of cigarette smoking releases toxins that damage blood vessels, increase inflammation, and cause plaque buildup, which in turn narrows the arteries and hinders blood flow throughout the body and to the heart. Therefore, when the heart has to work harder to pump blood efficiently, it raises the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
Smoking can lead to many different types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth and throat, oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, lung, trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who smoke are 15–30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer as compared to those who don’t.
Smoking is also said to affect reproductive health in women. In certain cases, women who smoke may find it difficult to become pregnant or may experience complications such as premature birth, low birth weight (LBW) infants, stillbirth, and infant mortality during pregnancy, as per “The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General.”
Additionally, smoking can also put you at risk of cervical cancer. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of cancer.
If you’re a smoker, you must also understand your risk of dental problems. As per the CDC, smoking can increase your risk of gum or periodontal disease, which can affect the bone structure that supports your teeth. Some of the common symptoms include red or swollen gums, painful chewing, sensitive teeth, and bleeding gums.
Unfortunately, smoking also affects your skin and may speed up the ageing process. Given that it deprives your skin of oxygen and nutrients, it can hinder collagen and elastin production, the proteins that keep skin plump and elastic.
Additionally, the toxins in smoke trigger harmful enzymes that break down these key proteins, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Quitting smoking is therefore the ultimate anti-ageing move, allowing your skin to heal and regain its youthful glow.
Smoking is hazardous for your bone health. Not only does it reduce blood supply to your bones, but the nicotine in the cigarette also slows down the production of osteoblasts, which are cells that form new bones and help the old ones grow and heal. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests that 30–40% of elderly smokers are at a greater risk of breaking their hips than non-smokers.
Smoking exposes your body to various health effects that extend far beyond the commonly known risks to lung health.
From heart problems to increased risk of cancer to reproductive complications and damage to bones and skin, there is no denying that smoking is the worst lifestyle choice to make. Hence, it is important to recognise these harmful side effects of smoking and make the wise decision to quit it immediately. Speak to an expert to learn how you can gradually cut down on this habit.