By 1964, it was official: The U.S. Surgeon General confirmed that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. But in the 50 plus years that followed, we learned that smoking is responsible for a heap of other awful diseases, contributing to the 480,000 lives lost to tobacco we face today.
Here are some health consequences of smoking you might not have heard before…
Smoking doesn't do your peepers any good. Smoking increases your risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 65.
Type 2 Diabetes
Smoking contributes to type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of complications from the disease— including poor blood flow to legs and feet. This can lead to infection and result in the need to amputate a limb. Yep–you could lose your foot or leg!
Male sexual function is affected when you smoke. Tobacco causes narrowing of blood vessels all over your body, including those that supply blood to the penis. Good news is that quitting will make a big difference.
Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening reproductive complication in women that is more likely in smokers. It occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. The egg can’t survive and it puts mom's life at serious risk.
Smokers lose bone density at a faster rate than non-smokers which puts you at risk for breaking body parts like your hip. Putting down the cigarettes can help slow down this process and keep you breaking a sweat, not your bones, on the dance floor.
Colorectal cancer, which forms in your intestines (colon or rectum), is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. One of the reasons? Yup, cigarette smoking. Smoking is linked to an increased risk of developing and dying from this type of cancer.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease more common in women that affects the joints in your hands and feet. It causes painful swelling that can eventually result in bone loss and joint deformity. Smoking is one of the causes, and is also associated with developing the disease at an earlier age.
Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
These birth defects, commonly called orofacial clefts, occur when a baby’s lip or mouth doesn't develop properly during pregnancy. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with orofacial clefts.
Moms-to-be take note: Smoking can affect your ability to conceive. It causes reduced fertility in women and can contribute to other problems during pregnancy.
As if potentially losing a limb isn’t enough (see #2), you also risk losing your teeth from smoking. Smoking contributes to periodontis—a gum infection that destroys the bone that supports the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
Page last updated: March 22, 2020