Smoking cigarettes is a leading cause of preventable death worldwide. It has numerous health risks, affecting nearly all organs of the body. Here are some of the major dangers associated with smoking:
- Lung Diseases: Cigarette smoke is a primary risk factor for developing lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema (together known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD), and it is the leading cause of lung cancer.
- Cardiovascular Problems: Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease (including heart attack), stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Even secondhand smoke can increase these risks.
- Cancers: In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, as well as some types of leukemia.
- Respiratory Problems: Regular smoking can lead to persistent cough, decreased lung function, and an increased risk of respiratory infections.
- Immune System Suppression: Smoking compromises the immune system, making smokers more susceptible to infections.
- Eye Diseases: Smoking can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss.
- Oral Health Problems: Smoking contributes to oral problems like gum disease and tooth loss.
- Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight babies, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Addiction: Nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive, which can make it hard for smokers to quit despite its harmful effects.
- Premature Aging and Appearance Changes: Smoking can cause skin wrinkling that could make smokers look older than they are. It can also stain teeth and fingers.
It’s important to note that these risks can be significantly reduced by quitting smoking, regardless of how long or how much someone has smoked. Quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke. It’s never too late to quit.