Smoking and Your Health

Two weeks ago, I shared with you about some smoking statistics in my series that spawned from the CDC’s new campaign on smoking cessation. Today, I want to look at the health consequences of someone’s choice to smoke.

So, we all know that smoking is bad for you. Even those who smoke know that. And they still do it. Whatever. Stupidity keeps me employed, so I guess I should thank you for that.

Smoking leads to disease, disability and death. Some of these diseases include: cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis – heard of those?). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, 20 additional people have at least one serious smoking related smoking-related disease (which means you might have multiple diseases – does that sound like any way to live…which you caused?). So, you may not be the one who dies – but you are very likely to be the one who has a greatly diminished quality of life as a result of your smoking habit. But while we’re on the topic of death, let’s look at the CDC’s numbers on death.

Based on the numbers in 2009 from the World Health Organization, worldwide tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year. With these current trends, the WHO expects that number to jump to 8 million deaths per year within the next two decades. This makes smoking the single most preventable death. In the United States, tobacco use contributes to 20% of deaths. This means that about 443,000 deaths per year are a result of smoking, and 49,000 of those are a result of second-hand smoking (these numbers gathered between 2000 and 2004). And, if you smoke, you are likely to die an average 13-14 years earlier than your non-smoking counterpart. How does that sound?

Now that we’ve looked at some frightening statistics again, let’s jump into some health topics that relate to your choice to smoke:

Smokers have increased health risks when compared to their non-smoking counterparts. Here’s how they measure up. Smoking is estimated to increase the risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • Stroke by 2 to 4 times
  • Men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • Women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • Dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (i.e.: chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

How’s that for a wakeup call? Men have an increased risk of developing lung cancer 23 times greater than someone who doesn’t smoke! That’s incredible odds that you’re going up against. And I don’t like those, to be honest. I wouldn’t want to gamble against that…

As far as cardiovascular disease is concerned, heart disease is already the leading cause of death in the United States, and has been for many years. Smoking increases your risk of developing this disease, which can eventually lead to death.

And, contrary to popular opinion, lung cancer is not the only type of cancer that smoking puts you at a higher risk for. Take a look at this list:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
  • The all-too-famous lung cancer
  • Oral cancer (mouth)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cancer of the pharynx (throat)
  • Stomach cancer

That’s a long and frightening list. And many of those cancers have high mortality rates. Five year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is a mere 5.5% and for lung cancer is 15.6% (numbers from NCI). Why would you want to increase your risk for a disease that could lead you through a long and painful death? Again, stupidity keeps me employed.

Did you know that smoking is the leading preventable risk factor for strokes? And did you know that, as a smoker, you are four times more likely than non-smokers to have a stroke. The toxins in tobacco smoke, nicotine and carbon monoxide, cause your body’s cells to become hypoxic as they are deprived of oxygen due to the damage caused by these toxins. The walls of your blood vessels become damaged as well, which can trigger a reaction from within your body that can cause a clot to form. If that happens in the brain, that’s a stroke; in the heart, that’s a heart attack; in the leg, it’s a DVT (deep vein thrombosis); in the lung, it’s a pulmonary embolism. Recognize some of those terms? Some very deadly things listed there. Pretty frightening, eh?

I, or anyone else, can go on for hours about how bad smoking is for your health. There is nothing positive about it, that’s for sure. But the bottom line is that smoking increases your risk for disease. And these diseases are either preventable or the risk is negligible if you don’t smoke.

So why would you?

 

Below, you can find the links I used for this:

Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking at the CDC

Smoking Fast Facts Sheet at the CDC

Tobacco-Related Mortality at the CDC

Cancer Statistic Fact Sheets at SEER / NCI

Pancreatic Cancer at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Cancer