The CDC has identified many important health problems other than cancer that
smoking contributes to:
• More than half of the deaths related to smoking are caused by diseases other
than cancer, among them are heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis,
emphysema, and stroke.
• About 90% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
are caused by smoking.
• Smokers have a 50% to 80% increased risk of dementia.
• Cigarette smoking weakens the immune system, makes asthma and
pneumonia worse and causes gum disease and loss of teeth.
• By harming men’s sperm, smoking can reduce fertility and increase risks for
birth defects and miscarriage.
• Male smokers may be more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) than
• Tobacco use by women is linked to reduced fertility and a higher risk of
ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, early premature birth, stillbirth, low
birth-weight infants, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
• Women past childbearing years who smoke have a lower bone density
(osteopenia and osteoporosis) than women who never smoked and are at
greater risk for broken bones.
• Smoking can increase the risk for cataracts and age-related macular
degeneration (damage to the part of the retina needed for central vision).
• Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes and can make it harder to control.
The risk of developing diabetes is 30% to 40% higher for active smokers than
• Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation
and impaired immune function.
• Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
A study published in 2015 indicates that the excess mortality caused by smoking is
underestimated. It found additional smoking-related causes of mortality beyond the
21 formally established as increased by smoking, including two common types of
cancer. According to the study, approximately 17% of the excess mortality among
current smokers was due to associations with causes that were not previously established
as attributable to smoking. These included associations between current
smoking and deaths from:
• Renal failure (relative risk, 2.0 times that of non-smokers)
• Intestinal ischemia (relative risk, 6.0)
• Hypertensive heart disease (relative risk, 2.4)
• Infections (relative risk, 2.3)
• Various respiratory diseases (relative risk, 2.0)
• Breast cancer (relative risk, 1.3)
• Prostate cancer (relative risk, 1.4)
The study found that among former smokers, the relative risk compared to
non-smokers for each of these outcomes declined as the number of years since
The implications of these grim statistics are clear: Do not start smoking; it is a
true addiction. And if you use tobacco quit now. Avoid secondhand smoke, and
smokeless tobacco as their risks are proven, too. Although there is, so far, much less
data on e-cigarettes and cancer, the dangerous cardiovascular effects of nicotine are
sure to remain. Many people have relied on help from health providers, especially
with the use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other drugs, but the large
majority of ex-smokers were able to quit on their own, usually “cold turkey.” And
if quitting proves to be impossible, there is good evidence among individuals who
smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day that a 50% reduction in smoking significantly
reduces the risk of lung cancer. A study found that those whose smoking decreased
from 20 to 10 cigarettes per day had a 27% decrease in lung cancer risk.
Quitting smoking does not eliminate all of the increased risks of contracting all
smoking-related diseases compared to non-smokers, but the reductions are substantial.
By one year after quitting, the risk for a heart attack drops 36% to 50%. Within
two to five years after quitting smoking, the risk for stroke is probably about the
same as that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking decreases the risk for cancers of
the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder by half within five years. Ten years after
quitting smoking, the risk for lung cancer drops by half.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel