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What Are Other Adverse Health Effects?
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Tobacco abuse harms every organ in the body. It has been conclusively linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia, and accounts for about one-third of all cancer deaths. The overall rates of death from cancer are twice as high among people who smoke as those who don't, with people who smoke heavily having rates that are four times greater than those of people who don't smoke. And, you guessed it -- foremost among the cancers caused by tobacco use is lung cancer. In fact, cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, the number-one cancer killer of both men and women. Tobacco abuse is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, ureter, and bladder.
People who smoke also lose some of their sense of smell and taste, don't have the same stamina for exercise and sports they once did, and may smell of smoke. After smoking for a long time, people find that their skin ages faster and their teeth discolor or turn brown.
Smoking doesn't just affect the person who smokes. People who do not smoke are exposed to "secondhand smoke," which comes from both the exhaled smoke and from the smoke floating from the end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke increases a person's risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. In fact, secondhand smoke is estimated to contribute to as many as 40,000 deaths related to heart disease and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among people who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke also causes respiratory problems in people who do not smoke, like coughing, phlegm, and reduced lung function.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. And, believe it or not, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, leading to more than 700 such deaths each year.
Each year, almost half a million Americans die from tobacco use. One of every five deaths, or about 440,000 deaths, in the United States is a result of tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs combined.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/1/2012
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