ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic staff
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|Lung function diagram|
When you inhale tobacco smoke, you take in numerous chemicals that reach most of your body's vital organs. Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals and more than 4,000 other harmful substances.
Smoking harms almost every organ of your body. More than half the people who keep smoking will die because of it. The negative health effects include:
- Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancer cases, as well as other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
- Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have cardiovascular illness or heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
- Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and is also related to cancers of the bladder, pancreas, kidney and cervix, and some leukemias.
- Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
- Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and the chance of impotence in men.
- Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, decreased birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborn. Low birth weight babies are more likely to die around the time of birth (perinatal period) or have learning and physical problems later in life.
- Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis.
- Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications, such as kidney disease and eye problems.
- Weakened senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn't as appetizing.
- Risks to your family. Spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease, compared with people who don't live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections and colds.
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