The top problems related to smoking include the flu, overall decline in health, bone density loss, cancer, and even death. Smokers have a lot to worry about when it comes to their health, as there are a lot of adverse effects of smoking.
However, if you quit smoking, most of those problems can go away or at the very least your risk of experiencing these effects can be significantly reduced. Although there are a lot of these potential health risks, here are ten of the most commonly cited risks on lists of the negative consequences of smoking.
Obviously, dying is the biggest risk that smokers face. Many of the health hazards that can be brought on by smoking can lead to death eventually and a study by the Center for Disease Control found that, on average, male smokers die 13.2 years earlier than their non-smoking peers and women die 14.5 years earlier. Over half of lifelong smokers die earlier.
Cancer is another huge concern. The majority of occurrences of lung cancer are caused by smoking and have one of the lowest rates of survival among all types of cancer. Although lung cancer is one of the best known negative consequences of smoking, it can cause many other types of cancer as well, including mouth, throat, sinus, esophagus, liver, pancreatic, stomach, kidney, bladder, bowel, ovarian, and several types of leukemia.
Pregnancy can also be affected by smoking. It can cause various health problems for the baby and even lead to a miscarriage. Exposure to tobacco smoke before birth can even cause behavioral problems in children. Besides that, the chemicals present in cigarette smoke can harm embryo transport, attachment of the embryo to the uterus, development of blood vessels, and uterine blood flow.
4. The Flu
Smoking can even increase your susceptibility to the flu. A study of a flu outbreak in an Israeli military unit found that 68.5 percent had caught the flu versus 47.2 percent of nonsmokers. When comparing smokers and nonsmokers who’d caught the flu, the study found that 50.6 percent of afflicted smokers had to miss work or be on bed rest while only 30.1 percent of the nonsmokers with the flu did. A quarter of influenza mortalities seen in the study were influenced by smoking.
5. Your Looks
Yes, smoking can even hurt your looks. Not only will you look less healthy, but you’ll also look far older. Your skin can start to look pale or splotchy, as well as develop age spots. It’ll start to sag and you’ll develop wrinkles far earlier as the chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause your collagen to break down at a significantly increased rate. Smoking is even considered to be one of the top causes of sagging breasts. The rest of your body will sag as well, again in part due to the loss of collagen. You may get saggy arms, thighs, or even your stomach may start to hang.
A tell-tale sign of a longtime smoker is wrinkles around the lips. Due to the overuse of muscles around the mouth to pucker around the cigarette, you can develop lines around the mouth that a nonsmoker won’t develop. With that earlier loss of collagen, these wrinkles will also be fairly deep. Your fingers also can develop stains from holding your cigarettes. However, the stains usually fade once you quit smoking. Smokers are also affected by hair loss, cataracts, and psoriasis.
6. Sexual Health
Another one of the negative effects of smoking is that it can hurt your sex life and fertility. Men who smoke are at risk for decreased sexual arousal and are at least at double the risk for impotency.
Women are faced with potential infertility. The various chemicals present in cigarette smoke can hurt estrogen production which can in turn harm ovulation, making it harder to get pregnant.
7. Eye Problems
Smoking can harm your eyes in multiple ways. It can irritate your eyes and those of the people around you. But more importantly, it can cause several diseases and issues to your eyes. Smokers have three times the risk of severe Macular Degeneration. Smoking can also lead to the development of cataracts. The effects of smoking on the arteries can lead to damage in the eye, leading to blockage of the veins and damage to the optic nerve leading not only to vision loss but possibly to complete blindness.
8. Respiratory Issues
Many respiratory problems can be caused by smoking as well. As already mentioned, lung cancer is a huge concern for smokers, but there are many others. Emphysema is one of these. Emphysema is caused by damage to the alveoli, the small air sacs located in the lungs. Emphysema makes the air sacs, which are normally grouped together into clusters, into big lumps with holes in between. This hinders the lungs from bringing oxygen to your blood and can cause shortness of breath.
Emphysema is grouped with chronic bronchitis and several other respiratory problems into a group called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which all lead to poor airflow in the lungs and the decay of lung tissue. COPD affects over 12 million people and is the third leading cause of death in the US.
9. Cardiovascular Disease
The top cause of death in smokers is cardiovascular disease which is caused by the gradual hardening and narrowing of the arteries. There are many kinds of cardiovascular disease that can affect you; coronary and cerebral thrombosis are blood clots that can cause heart attacks, strokes, and paralysis. Cardiovascular disease can also manifest as chest pains, abnormal heart rhythm, dizziness, and fainting, among other things.
10. Bone Density
Someone who smokes before age 30 can be prevented from reaching their maximum bone mass due to smoking. Cigarette smoke can interfere with hormones like estrogen which can lead to bone loss in women and exacerbate the bone loss that normally occurs during menopause.
Nicotine can also kill the cells in the body that make bones and combined with the damage caused to blood vessels, smokers can be subject to multiple fractures which won’t heal as well as those in a nonsmoker. These bone density problems can also lead to problems later in life via an increased risk for Osteoporosis which in turn can lead to fractures and broken bones as you age.
What is the greatest health risk of smoking?
Simply put – Death. Although these are just ten of the biggest problems a smoker can face, there are countless others out there. For the sake of your health and the health of those around you, quitting smoking is the best choice. Quitting can decrease your risk of so many the potential risks and could lead to you living a longer, healthier, and happier life!