Quit Smoking

How tobacco affects your body

If you're a smoker, you may know you should stop. That's a good start toward quitting. But you need a powerful reason to quit for good. Knowing the truth about how smoking harms your health may be what it takes.

It's a fact that smoking is bad for nearly every part of your body. Here are a few places smoking does damage.

Airways
When you smoke, the soft tissues in your lungs are inflamed. This can lead to serious disorders. One is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking can also bring on cancer in your:

  • Lungs
  • Throat
  • Mouth

Heart
Smoking harms the cells lining the blood vessels and heart. And it can raise the risk of clots that cause heart attacks. Smoking can also play a part in causing an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is when the larger artery near the stomach grows weak.

Other blood vessels
Damage to vessel linings can cause them to narrow. This means not enough blood flows to the:

  • Kidneys
  • Stomach
  • Arms, legs and feet

This can lead to problems like pain and gangrene.

Brain
Blood clots that form in damaged arteries can travel to your brain. This can cause a stroke that may be deadly.

Bones and tendons
Smoking raises the risk for osteoporosis in both men and women. This is when bones grow weak and are more likely to break. Smokers are also at higher risk of:

  • Overuse injuries, like tendonitis
  • Traumatic injuries, such as sprains

Immune system
Some of the cells that destroy germs in the body are less likely to be found in smokers than in nonsmokers. That leaves you more vulnerable to infections. In addition, smoking can cause cancer of the:

  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys
  • Cervix
  • Stomach
  • Blood (leukemia)

And smoking raises your risk for eye disease and dental problems.

Pregnancy
Women who smoke tend to have more problems with pregnancy. These include:

  • Premature births
  • Low-birth-weight babies
  • Stillbirths

And their babies are more likely to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) than babies whose mothers don't smoke.

Turn your risks around
On the bright side, there are many benefits to giving up smoking. They are listed at www.morehealth.org/quit4good. There you'll also find a guide to help you quit.

Why wait? If you quit now, your health risks start dropping now too. And they keep going down, no matter how long you've smoked.

The National Tobacco Quitline can also help you quit for good. Call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons