Although numerous businesses, government buildings and colleges are smoke-free, the Center for Disease Control still names smoking as the leading cause of death in the United States.
Smoking causes 480,000 deaths each year in the nation. That’s more than the combined causes of HIV, drugs, alcohol, auto accidents and incidents related to firearms.
The CDC points out that smoking takes a significant toll on the body and boosts health risks.
Smoking Contributes to Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
The CDC estimates that smoking doubles – or even quadruples – a person’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease or having a stroke. That’s because it damages blood vessels leading to the heart by thickening them and decreasing their width. This makes it more difficult for blood to reach the heart and keep it pumping at a healthy rate.
Smoking is a Leading Factor in Respiratory Disease
CDC research indicates that smoking increases the chance of lung disease in men by 25 times. That estimation is slightly higher for women, at 25.7 times. That’s because smoking damages the airways and alveoli – or small air sacs – located within the lungs.
Smoking-related respiratory disease includes COPD, with smokers more than 12 times to die from the disease than nonsmokers, as well as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
If you already have asthma, smoking makes it more difficult to manage and increases the likelihood of an attack. Asthma attacks are also worse for a smoker than a nonsmoker.
Many Cancers Trace Back to Smoking
Smoking leads to cancer in virtually any part of the body. That includes the bladder, liver, larynx, pancreas and stomach. The CDC reports that it leads to 90 percent of lung-cancer deaths, with more women dying from lung cancer than breast cancer. Research also estimates that if the nation was completely smoke-free, one in every three lung-cancer deaths would not occur.
Smoking Affects Pregnancy and Fertility
Smoking can cause a variety of problems for pregnant women – all the way from conception to delivery. It can make becoming pregnant difficult. Plus, the baby can be born premature, stillborn, underweight, or with a clef palate. Smoking can also cause an ectopic pregnancy, resulting in a miscarriage.
For men, smoking can affect their sperm. It can reduce fertility or increase the chance of miscarriages or birth defects.
Smoking Impedes Bone Health
Smoking can significantly impact bone health, particularly in post-menopausal women. It can weaken bones and increase the likelihood of breakage.
Smoking Contributes to Numerous Additional Health Risks
- Many causes of tooth loss caused by unhealthy teeth and gums are traced back to smoking.
- Smoking increases the likelihood of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Smoking can lead to type 2 diabetes and reduce the ability to control it.
- The CDC reports that smoking contributes to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Research finds that smoking inhibits the immune system and can also increase inflammation.