Smoking and Health

Spirometry is used to detect lung function abnormalities. In many cases these are caused by a smoking related disease.

Some facts about smoking and health:

  • Smoking causes a long list of potentially fatal diseases. 73% of all smoking related diseases are chronic lung diseases.
  • Cigarettes contain at least 400 toxic substances of which at least 69 are known to cause cancer.
  • Smoking is the world's number one preventable cause of death.
  • In the United States each year 438.000 people die from smoking related diseases
  • Health care costs related to smoking are estimated to cost the US government 167 billion USD every year.
  • 1 in 2 smokers dies from a smoking related disease.
  • Smoking causes cancer. Not only the lungs are affected, all the following organs can be affected by cancer more often in smokers:
    • lung cancer: no less than 90% of all lung cancers can be attributed to smoking
    • cancer of the mouth (4 times more often in smokers)
    • cancer of the nose
    • cancer of the sinuses
    • cancer of the throat
    • pancreatic cancer
    • liver cancer
    • cancer of the esophagus
    • bladder cancer (4x more in smokers)
    • stomach cancer
    • kidney cancer
    • leukemia (cancer of the blood)
    • coloncancer
    • testicular cancer
    • breast cancer
    • cervix cancer
    • prostate cancer: more prevalent, but also more often lethal in smoker
  • Smokers are affected more often by other diseases as well:
    • Lung diseases: COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, more severe asthma attacks, pneumonia
    • Heart disease: stroke, aortic rupture, heart diseases, atherosclerosis, blood cloths, hypercholesterolemia, aneurism, Buerger's disease, hypertension
    • Eye problems: increases chance of getting cataract, Graves ophtalmopathy, macular degenration, amblyopie, blindness
    • Fertility: erectile dysfunction, lower sperm count, decreased fertility in men and women, earlier menopause
    • Other: peptic ulcers, periodontal disease and gum infection, hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease), osteoporosis (and hip fracture), type 2 diabetes, more serious complications from diabetes, predisposition for Alzheimer's disease, decreased wound healing (after surgery), pale skin and wrinkles.
  • Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a lower birth weight and a higher chance of fetal death.

Health effects of secondhand smoke

Passive smoking can also cause a variety of health related issues, especially in children.

The following types of cancer have been linked to secondhand smoke:

  • lung cancer
  • throat cancer
  • cancer of the nasal sinusese
  • brain cancer
  • bladder cancer
  • rectum cancer
  • stomach cancer
  • breast cancer
  • liver cancer
  • lymphoma
  • leukemia

Especially children seem to be prone to health effects of secondhand smoke. Children that grow up with a smoking parent are more prone to:

  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • airway infections
  • learning problems
  • ear infections

It is estimated that passive smoking causes 3000 lung cancer deaths in the US every year. Passive smoking has also been linked to other diseases like COPD, lung infections and heart disease.

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