If you are a smoker, you are at increased risk of more than 40 dangerous health conditions. Some can be fatal and others cause serious health problems. Smoking is now one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, and US researches have shown that men who smoke increase their chances of dying from the resulting diseases by more than 23 times, while women who smoke increase their risk by nearly 12 times.
Smoking is extremely dangerous – and not just for smokers, but also for people around them (because of passive smoking). In the UK, approximately 120,000 people die every year from smoking-related illnesses.
Risks to your health
There is so much research showing the damage that smoking causes to human bodies. For example, studies in the UK have demonstrated that smokers in their 30s and 40s are five times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers.
Lung cancer kills more than 20,000 people in the country every year, and 90% of lung cancer is caused by smoking tobacco. Lung cancer is difficult to treat and long-term survival rates rates are poor.
Smoking tobacco increases the risk of getting the following cancers:
It impairs your blood circulation and damages your heart. Smoking also heightens the risk of contracting illnesses such as:
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack
- Damaged blood vessels (peripheral vascular disease)
- Damage to the arteries that supply blood to your brain (cerebrovascular disease)
Smoking damages your lungs, causing conditions such as:
- Infection of the main airways in the lungs (chronic bronchitis)
- Damage to the small airways in the lungs (emphysema)
- Inflammation in the lungs (pneumonia)
Smoking also worsens or prolongs the symptoms of respiratory conditions, like asthma, or respiratory tract infections such as the common cold.
For males, smoking can cause impotence because it limits the blood supply to the penis, and smoking can affect fertility for both men and women, making it difficult for you to have children.
Second-hand smoke is produced by the process of smoking cigarettes, and people who breathe in second-hand smoke are susceptible to the same illnesses as smokers – usually lung cancer and heart diseases. For example, even if you are a non-smoker, but you regularly breathe in second-hand smoke, your chances of developing lung cancer rise by 24% and heart disease by 25%.
Smoking during pregnancy
If you smoke while pregnant, you endanger the health of your unborn child, as well as your own.
Smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of various problems, including:
- An underweight baby
- Premature (early) birth
If parents smoke after their child is born, it can result in sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death. Also, the rates of infant respiratory illness, for example, bronchitis, pneumonia and colds are higher.