Thousands of people die each year from tobacco-related diseases. In the U.S. alone, smoking causes nearly 440,000 deaths a year and is a leading cause of preventable death and disability. Tobacco use affects nearly every organ of the body, including the brain, heart, and lungs. Approximately 16 million people in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, and the statistics are alarming. In fact, over 5000 adolescents start smoking each day. Another 2000 become regular smokers, making the total number of adolescents smoking cigarettes a staggering five million.
In addition to causing premature death, smoking can lead to serious long-term disability and even death. It starts out by making it difficult for a person to participate in activities, leaving them confined to their homes. Around 85% to 90% of all people with COPD have smoked at some point in their life. The disease is also known to cause reduced fertility. In women, smoking increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when an egg implants outside the uterus, which can be life-threatening for the mother.
As smoking increases the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease, it can also have adverse effects on sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to lung disease, it is associated with cardiovascular problems, including heart failure, stroke, and dementia. Among women, smoking is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and pregnancy problems. As such, quitting smoking has proven to be an effective way to protect against these harmful effects.
Passive smokers also affect the people around them. They breathe in smoke from the cigarette of a friend or neighbor. Passive smokers are known as secondary or indirect smokers. Children and women are more susceptible to the effects of passive smoking. Infants exposed to smoke can suffer from asthma, frequent ear infections, and even the syndrome known as infant death syndrome. Secondary smokers may also experience chest pain and lung irritation. It is important to consult a doctor immediately if you suspect any of these symptoms.
Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to about 41,000 deaths among nonsmokers each year, and contributes to 400 infant deaths a year. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk for respiratory problems, middle ear disease, and slowed lung growth. So, there is no excuse for the continued use of cigarettes or other tobacco-related products.
While smoking affects the body in a variety of ways, there are other benefits of quitting. Not only does quitting smoking improve health, but it improves memory and cognition. Quitting smoking has been shown to increase the thickness of the cerebral cortex, which plays an essential role in learning and memory. Furthermore, cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, and more than fifty of these chemicals are toxins. Quitting smoking can reverse this aging process.
As mentioned, quitting smoking can reduce the risk of getting a second cancer. Furthermore, quitting smoking can improve the quality of life after cancer treatment. However, this may not be easy. Ask your doctor for help. Some medications and support programs can help smokers quit. The best way to quit smoking is to discuss all of your options with your health care provider. If you have a history of lung cancer, you may be able to benefit from a lung cancer screening. The type of screening depends on your smoking history and the length of your smoking. Frequent lung infections and respiratory infections are indicators of lung cancer. Sores and white patches in the mouth could also indicate smoking cessation.