Tap to Read ➤

Diseases Caused by Smoking

There's no denying the fact that smoking can make a person susceptible to serious medical conditions. Smoking is one of the main reasons of some serious health problems and fatal diseases around the world.
"Smokers never become old because they die younger."

This saying reveals a harsh fact about the hazardous effects of smoking. There are millions of people who are addicted to cigarette smoking throughout the world.
Well, there are several different reasons for this. Some people start smoking in their teens just for the thrill, and sometimes, it's peer pressure. Eventually, they become addicted to the nicotine present in cigarettes. Some people smoke to get relief from stress.
People with low self-esteem become more addicted to smoking. Whatever the reason, once a person gets addicted to smoking, he has to face a number of serious health problems. Let's take a look at some of the health complications an average smoker is exposed to.

Diseases Caused Due to Smoking

A person addicted to smoking may suffer from a number of serious and fatal diseases. Smokers are more likely to suffer from respiratory infections, and several minor complaints such as cough and cold.
Smokers may suffer from some dreadful diseases, such as cancer, heart, cardiovascular, and lung diseases. Also caused are respiratory problems and several other problems related to the kidneys, liver, and pancreas.


Smokers are at a higher risk of getting cancer. Carcinogens like tar in tobacco smoke can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, and the gullet. Mouth cancer, highly common among smokers, starts off usually on one's lips or underneath the tongue. About 90% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. Female smokers have a greater risk of cervical cancer.
Smokers can also develop different types of cancers:

• Larynx cancer
• Acute myeloid leukemia
• Stomach cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Lung cancer
• Pharynx cancer
• Esophagus cancer
• Oral cavity cancer
• Bladder cancer
• Pancreatic cancer
It has been observed that smokers who've smoked earlier in life, and light up many times in a single day, are at a higher risk of getting lung cancer. A startling, yet interesting fact is that, ex-smokers require around 15 years before they are cleared from the high risk of getting lung cancer.

Cardiovascular Diseases

These are diseases of the heart, its blood vessels, and other related organs. Coronary disease is a major cause of death related to smoking. Nicotine present in tobacco increases the cholesterol levels in the blood, getting clogged within the arteries; causing a hardening in the arteries.
The arteries become narrow, rigid, or blocked. Due to atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries), blood clots are formed, thus increasing the risk of a cardiovascular disease.
Common cardiovascular diseases found in smokers are coronary thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, coronary heart diseases, blockage in the legs (peripheral vascular disease, and cerebrovascular diseases like stroke. Smoking can also cause abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a condition where the aorta swells up or weakens; this is a major artery in the body.

Respiratory Conditions

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a group of health conditions that block airflow, thus making it difficult to breathe. It causes health problems such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is breathlessness caused by damage to the alveoli (air sacs). Chronic bronchitis causes frequent coughing with a lot of mucus.
Smoking increases the rate of decline in lung function to 3 times its usual rate. Breathlessness starts due to regression of lung functions. Runners who smoke can experience breathlessness and difficulty in breathing, as the lungs have to work harder than usual. This can cause one to run out of air within minutes, not making it as effective as a non-smoker.

Other Conditions Caused by Smoking

• Smoking causes an acidic taste in the mouth. It can increase the risk of developing mouth ulcers.
• The chemicals present in tobacco damage the lining of the blood vessels and affect the levels of fat in the bloodstream. It increases the risk of atheroma, which is the main cause of heart disease, strokes, and aneurysms.
• Smoking deteriorates oral health, leading to stained teeth and gums. It can give rise to various health problems of the gums and teeth, such as swollen gums, loose teeth, and bad breath.
• Smoking can give rise to various sexual problems. People addicted to smoking are more likely to face fertility and sexual performance issues.
• Smoking increases the risk of high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for strokes and heart attacks.
• Smoking worsens asthma, increasing the inflammation of the airways.
• Smoking can cause premature aging. Due to smoking, the blood supply to the skin is reduced, thus reducing the levels of vitamin A. Hence, smokers have paler skin and more wrinkles.
• Women smokers have more chances of suffering from hip fractures as they have a lower bone density like postmenopausal women.
• Heavy smoking causes macular degeneration leading to gradual loss of eyesight. Smokers have a higher risk of cataract.
• Smoking causes chest infections, diabetic retinopathy, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease.
• There are passive effects of smoking which can be dangerous to non-smokers in their company. If babies and kids come in contact with smokers, they are highly prone to asthma and infections of the ears, nose, and chest. They are also at a high risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (dying while asleep).

Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman who frequently smokes is at a higher risk of a miscarriage and other complications such as bleeding, detachment of placenta, and ectopic pregnancy.
There is a possibility of giving birth to a baby with a low birth weight, or a stillborn baby. There may be some congenital defects in the baby (for instance, a cleft palate). Mothers who smoke can also suffer from preterm delivery and infertility issues.

Why Smoking is Dangerous

It is estimated that every minute about 10 people die due to tobacco use. According to researches, tobacco in a cigarette contains more than 400 toxic substances and 4,000 chemical compounds.
• The most hazardous substances in cigarettes are tar (which is a carcinogen), nicotine (which increases cholesterol levels in the body), and carbon monoxide (which decreases the amount of oxygen within the body).
• Nicotine is the most addictive substance in tobacco. Smoking decreases the level of oxygen reaching the tissues, giving rise to different health problems such as strokes, heart attacks, or miscarriages.
• Smoking increases cholesterol levels in the blood, thus increasing the risk of heart attacks.
• Smoking causes damage and constriction of blood vessels, leading to various diseases of blood vessels.
• Smoking also causes chronic coughing, shortness of breath, premature aging, recurrent infections, and reduced overall fitness.
• Smoking-related deaths are mainly because of heart diseases, cancers, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Smoking adversely affects one's health, and of those around them. The only way to prevent these health hazards is to quit smoking. It's never too late to stop smoking. It could protect you and your family from many fatal diseases. After all, health is wealth, isn't it?

 Reshma Jirage

Andres Siimon