5 Negative Health Effects of Smoking You Probably Didn’t Know About
At the moment, there are more than 34 million tobacco smokers across the country, which means that 14 out of 100 people over the age of 18 engage in this unhealthy habit. What is even more unnerving is that approximately 16 million Americans struggle with a disease caused by smoking.
Most people associate smoking with lung cancer, as well as with other pulmonary diseases, but the reality is that tobacco use can be responsible for countless other serious health problems.
On average, people who smoke pass away 10 years earlier than non-smokers. If you smoke, you should keep in mind that approximately 67% of individuals who use tobacco eventually die of a related disease, which is only in 10% to 15% of cases of lung cancer. Therefore, smoking can result in numerous other terrible health issues than lung cancer. We will take a look at the link between smoking and five diseases you may not have known it could cause.
1. Eye Disease
As the primary cause of blindness in people over the age of 65, macular degeneration is the consequence of tobacco smoking in 27% of cases. Smokers are 3 to 4 times more susceptible to developing macular degeneration than people who do not smoke. Furthermore, individuals who live with smokers have a twofold risk of getting this eye condition as well. However, because smoking greatly damages your eyes, it can also result in the following conditions related to vision:
- cataract: heavy smokers, meaning people who smoke 15 or more cigarettes a day, have a risk of developing cataracts 3 times greater than that of the general population
- glaucoma: there is a strong connection between tobacco smoking and high blood pressure, cataract, and diabetes, all of which are major risk factors for glaucoma
- diabetic retinopathy: this is a health complication stemming from diabetes caused by smoking, and diabetes that is the result of tobacco use is usually considerably more difficult to keep under control
- dry eye syndrome: smokers are over 2 times more prone to developing dry eye syndrome than non-smokers
The only thing you can do to lower your risk of developing any of these eye conditions is to quit smoking. Because nicotine addiction is extremely serious and very hard to overcome, we advise you to talk to your healthcare provider about the therapeutic approaches that are available for you to kick this awful habit. They will most likely prescribe you some form of nicotine replacement therapy and maybe connect you to a counselor to help you find the root of this addiction and to help you deal with your smoking triggers.
2. Pancreatic Cancer
A whopping 25% of pancreatic cancer cases are the result of tobacco smoking, which places people with this habit at high risk of developing this malignant disease. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive types of cancer, as it causes metastases much earlier than other malignant diseases. To make matters worse, pancreatic cancer is usually found in advanced stages when treatment is no longer effective.
The risk of coming to suffer from pancreatic cancer as a smoker is twice as high as that of non-smokers. It is worthy of note that pancreatic cancer that is related to smoking develops gradually, as the carcinogenic substances and chemicals in tobacco smoke promote the progression of pancreatic cancer by inducing fibrosis and inflammation. Since the prognosis and life expectancy of people with pancreatic cancer are very dire, it is ideal to quit smoking as soon as you can so as to decrease your chances of getting this disease.
3. Rheumatoid Arthritis
People who have been using cigarettes for 20 years or longer are at high risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis when they are older. Nevertheless, tobacco use may lead to the occurrence of this condition earlier in life in the case of smokers. Unfortunately, smokers also have a greater risk of developing a more severe form of rheumatoid arthritis, which can seriously affect their life quality. Smokers are less likely to experience the remission of this health problem as well, as treatment becomes less effective.
While medical researchers have not yet found how smoking influences the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, they believe that it has a correlation with the immune system functions, which are weakened by tobacco use. If your need to undergo surgery for rheumatoid arthritis as a smoker or ex-smoker, your risk of experiencing complications is higher as well. It may interfere with anesthesia, heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
4. Infertility in Women
It was found that women who smoke have a more difficult time conceiving than those who do not use tobacco. The rate of infertility among female smokers is twice as high as that among women who do not smoke. According to medical studies, the more cigarettes you smoke per day, the more likely you are to become infertile or to experience problems conceiving a child. Moreover, tobacco smoking affects male infertility as well. Women who smoke can encounter the following problems as far as their reproductive system is concerned:
- blockages in the fallopian tubes
- a greater risk of ectopic pregnancy
- damage to the eggs as they develop in the ovaries
On the bright side, if you quit smoking as a woman, your chances of getting pregnant will double every month. Roughly 20% of women of childbearing age are smokers in the U.S. and this can tremendously affect their fertility, as well as their chances of conceiving. Once again, quitting smoking is the best way to restore your fertility, at least partially. More women should be aware of the detrimental effects of smoking on their reproductive health, as a recent survey revealed that only 30% of women of childbearing age knew that smoking could increase the risk of miscarriage, and just 10% knew that smoking could hurt fertility.
People who smoke are 30% to 40% more prone to developing type 2 diabetes than non-smokers, which is a very frightening statistic. If you already struggle with diabetes, smoking will only make the condition worse. As a result, it will be harder for you to regulate your insulin levels because nicotine can lessen the efficiency of insulin. This will lead to smokers requiring more insulin so as to avoid developing health complications due to diabetes.
If you are a smoker with diabetes, regardless of which of the two came first in your life, you are at risk of coming to develop the following health issues as well:
- heart disease
- poor blood flow in the legs that can lead to ulcers, infections, and even amputation
- retinopathy, which may eventually cause irreversible blindness
- peripheral neuropathy, which entails damage to the nerves in the arms and legs that can cause pain, weakness, and poor coordination
In conclusion, quitting smoking can alleviate these health problems or even lead to their remission. Nonetheless, some people will not experience the benefits of ceasing tobacco use, as they have been smoking for too long or too many cigarettes per day. Therefore, if you do not have a long history of tobacco use, we strongly encourage you to quit as soon as possible, as your chances of your health returning to normal are very high.
Quitting smoking is one of the greatest and most important decisions you can ever make, no matter your age, gender, or overall health. If you find it difficult and overwhelming to quit, talk to a medical professional who can offer you the guidance you need, as for many smokers, giving up this habit can be very challenging and frustrating because nicotine is extremely addictive, as addictive as cocaine and heroin, according to medical studies. However, it is not impossible to quit, as there are many options available, such as nicotine replacement therapy and medication.