Smoking cigarettes can have many adverse effects on the body. It increases a person’s risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, vision problems, and gum disease.
According to the
Smoking cigarettes affects the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the reproductive system, the skin, and the eyes, and it increases the risk of many cancers.
This article looks at 13 possible effects of smoking cigarettes.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Smoking cigarettes damages the lungs because a person inhales nicotine, among other chemicals.
The CDC reports that roughly
Smoking cigarettes also presents a greater risk of developing and dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). The American Lung Association report that smoking causes 80% of COPD deaths.
Smoking cigarettes can damage the heart, blood vessels, and blood cells.
The chemicals and tar in cigarettes can increase a person’s risk of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. This buildup limits blood flow and can lead to dangerous blockages.
Smoking also increases the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when the arteries to the arms and legs start to narrow, restricting blood flow.
Having PAD increases the risk of:
Smoking cigarettes can damage a female’s reproductive system and make it
In males, the risk of erectile dysfunction increases the more they smoke and the length of time they smoke for. Smoking can also affect the quality of the sperm and therefore reduce fertility.
According to the
- increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy
- reducing the baby’s birth weight
- increasing the risk of preterm delivery
- damaging the fetus’s lungs, brain, and central nervous system
- increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- contributing to congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip and cleft palate
Smoking can also make it more difficult for people with diabetes to manage their condition.
It can also cause additional inflammation in the body.
Other vision problems related to smoking include:
Symptoms of gum disease include:
Smoking tobacco can limit a person’s ability to taste and smell things properly. It can also stain the teeth yellow or brown.
The integumentary system consists of a person’s skin, hair, and nails.
Smoking tobacco can affect a person’s skin and hair. A person who smokes may experience prematurely aged, wrinkled skin. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, some of the long-term effects of smoking include:
Smoking can cause the hair and skin to smell like tobacco. It can contribute to hair loss and balding. It can also cause discoloration of the nails, causing them to become yellowed or brown.
In addition to the well-documented link with lung cancer, smoking cigarettes contributes to other cancers.
Cigarettes can also increase the risk of:
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for a person developing intestinal disorders.
Smoking may also cause delayed emptying of the stomach and slowed peristalsis.
The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, which control all physical and mental activities.
A smoker’s central nervous system becomes damaged because nicotine causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which causes these organs to weaken over time.
According to a
The ill effects of smoking cigarettes do not only affect people who smoke.
Secondhand smoke can also significantly affect family members, friends, children, and coworkers.
Children whose parents smoke get sick more often, have more lung infections and are more likely to have shortness of breath.
If a fetus or baby is exposed to secondhand smoke, they may be at risk of childhood cancers such as:
Once a person stops smoking, the benefits start accumulating. These include clearer skin, improved oral health, more stable hormones, a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of many types of cancers.
Some other benefits of quitting smoking include:
- After 20 minutes–12 hours: Heart rate and carbon monoxide in the blood drop to normal levels.
- After 1 year: The risk of a heart attack is much lower, as is blood pressure. Coughing and upper respiratory problems begin to improve.
- After 2–5 years: The risk of stroke drops to that of someone who does not smoke, according to the
- After 5–15 years: The risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancer is reduced by half.
- After 10 years: The risk of lung and bladder cancer is half that of someone who currently smokes.
- After 15 years: The risk of heart disease is similar to that of someone who never smoked.
Nicotine is an addictive drug and can cause withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using it. These symptoms include cravings, increased appetite, and irritability. Cravings and other effects typically subside over time.
A doctor or other healthcare professional can help a person take positive steps toward quitting smoking.
Smoking cigarettes harms a person’s health and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and different types of cancer.
Other effects of smoking include fertility problems, poor oral hygiene, skin problems, and an increased risk of neurological disorders.
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of health problems such as stroke and heart disease and improves a person’s overall health.