It should be plainly obvious to even those who continue to smoke that their habit is a dangerous one that has a significant negative impact on health. Such is the problem with smoking, in that smokers are keenly aware that their habit may eventually lead to their early death, yet their addiction is so strong that there is little that they feel they can do to stop. Developing an understanding of the specific smoking health risks that are caused may serve to motivate smokers to quit, thereby avoiding the short-term and long-term health effects that are caused by smoking, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Various cancers
- Macular degeneration leading to blindness
Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Smokers face a significantly increased risk of heart disease. Compared to non-smokers, they are experiencing heart attacks at a rate that is 70 percent greater. The risk for heart disease is reduced immediately upon quitting smoking, and after one year former smokers have reduced their heart attack risk by up to 50 percent. Smokers are also at risk for several other types of heart disease, including atherosclerosis, coronary thrombosis, and cerebral thrombosis. In fact, heart bypass patients are made up by smokers at a rate of 90 percent.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, is a term for any disease or condition that restricts airflow from the lungs. Smoking is the common cause of COPD, being responsible for up to 80 percent of all cases of COPD. These conditions include emphysema and chronic bronchitis, both of which impact the ease of breathing. COPD will cause a decline in lung function that is three times that of a non-smoker, and it has been found that 90 percent of pack-a-day smokers have some form of emphysema present at the time of death, where non-smokers have little or none.
Increased Cancer Risk
Lung cancer is an obvious risk that is caused by smoking, and 90 percent of all lung cancer cases are smoking-related. Lung cancer is not the only cancer that can be caused by the habit of smoking, as bladder cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, and cancer of the kidneys are all more prevalent in smokers than in non-smokers. In fact, if smoking were eliminated, lung cancer would hardly remain, as only .5 percent of non-smokers who have never smoked develop lung cancer.
Impact on Eyesight
Many smokers may not be aware of the impact that smoking can have on eyesight, yet the impact is serious and potentially severe. Heavy smokers are much more likely to develop macular degeneration, which results in the eventual loss of eyesight. These smokers are twice as likely to suffer from this affliction. Smokers are also much more likely to develop cataracts, which also have an obvious impact on sight.
Potential for Impotence
Smoking inhibits blood circulation, which can thereby cause issues relating to erectile dysfunction. Men may experience erectile dysfunction at a rate 50 percent higher than those who do not smoke. The damaged blood vessels caused by smoking may lead to a degeneration that is difficult to reverse, resulting in long-term impotence issues.