According to Drugs.com, smoking cigarettes is the number one preventable cause of illness and death in the United States. More than one million Americans start smoking cigarettes every year, endangering their lives and those around them. Cigarette smoke has been linked to several life-threatening side effects and health risks, the most common being cancer.
Cigarettes and Cancer
The most common side effect of smoking cigarettes is cancer. While tobacco increases a person’s risk of developing various types of cancers, the most common is lung cancer. Cigarette smoke also significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the mouth, lips, throat or voice box.
According to Drugs.com, cigarette smokers are also at an increased risk of developing cancer in the stomach, kidney, esophagus, pancreas, cervix and bladder.
Heart and Blood Vessel Disease
People who smoke cigarettes are also at a grave risk of heart attack and stroke. The carbon monoxide that lives in cigarette smoke has been associated with hardening of arteries, which can lead to stroke caused by blood clots in the brain.
Nicotine in cigarettes also causes the arteries in the legs and arms to tighten, which increases a risk of blood clots and damaged arteries surrounding the heart.
Lung disease is one of the most serious side effects of smoking cigarettes. The chemicals in smoke can damage the cilia, or the little hairs that protect the lungs from dirt and other waste. Over time, dirt will begin to collect on the lungs, leading to lung disease.
Another side effect of cigarette smoke is chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a chronic inflammatory condition in the lungs characterized by excessive coughing and difficulty breathing. The severity of the condition depends on how long (and how much) a person has been smoking.
The long-term lung disease emphysema is also associated with smoking. The first sign of emphysema is shortness of breath during exercise or other exerting activities. Over time, however, as the condition worsens, the patient may even start to experience shortness of breath while at rest. In the later stages, patients will also experience symptoms such as uncontrollable coughing, excess mucus production, a blue tint in the eyes and wheezing.
Other Side Effects of Smoking
In addition to the life-threatening conditions mentioned, other side effects of smoking cigarettes include:
• Yellowing of the teeth • Development of wrinkles at an early age • Higher risk of bone fractures in the wrist, hip or spine • Difficulty sleeping • Soar throat • Bad smell in clothes, skin and hair • Bad breath