Effects of smoking on the brain
If you smoke, you are more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t smoke. In fact, smoking increases your risk of having a stroke by at least 50%.
One way that smoking can increase your risk of a stroke is by increasing your chances of developing a brain aneurysm. This is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall. This can rupture or burst which will lead to an extremely serious condition known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is a type of stroke, and can cause extensive brain damage and death.
Effects of smoking on the skin
Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your skin. This means that if you smoke, your skin ages more quickly and looks grey and dull. The toxins in your body also cause cellulite.
Smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years, and makes it three times more likely you’ll get facial wrinkling, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Smoking even gives you a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks, which can cause you to look gaunt.
Effects of smoking on the mouth and throat
Smoking causes unattractive problems such as bad breath and stained teeth, and can also cause gum disease and damage your sense of taste.
The most serious damage smoking causes in your mouth and throat is an increased risk of cancer in your lips, tongue, throat, voice box and oesophagus. More than 93% of oral cancers are caused by smoking.
Effects of smoking on the lungs
Your lungs can be very badly affected by smoking. Coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma are just the start. Smoking can cause fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease, including bronchitis.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. The main cause of COPD is smoking and the likelihood of developing COPD increases the more you smoke and the longer you’ve been smoking. This is because smoking irritates and inflames the lungs, which results in scarring.
Effects of smoking on the heart
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).
Carbon monoxide from the smoke and nicotine both put a strain on the heart by making it work faster. They also increase your risk of blood clots. Other chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the lining of your coronary arteries, leading to furring of the arteries.
In fact, smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack, and if you smoke you have twice the risk of dying from coronary heart disease than lifetime non-smokers.
Effects of smoking on the stomach
Smokers have an increased chance of getting stomach cancer or ulcers. Smoking can weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of your oesophagus and allow acid from the stomach to travel in the wrong direction back up your gullet, a process known as reflux.
Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing kidney cancer, and the more you smoke the greater the risk. For example, research has shown that if you regularly smoke 10 cigarettes a day, you are one and a half times more likely to develop kidney cancer compared with a non-smoker. This is increased to twice as likely if you smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day.
Effects of smoking on fertility
Smoking can cause male impotence, as it damages the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. It can also damage sperm, reduce sperm count and cause testicular cancer. Up to 120,000 men from the UK in their 20s and 30s are impotent as a direct result of smoking, and men who smoke have a lower sperm count than those who are non-smokers.
For women, smoking can reduce fertility. One study found that smokers were over three times more likely than non-smokers to have taken more than one year to conceive. The study estimated that the fertility of smoking women was 72% that of non-smokers.
Smoking also increases your risk of cervical cancer. People who smoke are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from the body, which can develop into cancer.
Smoking while you are pregnant can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and illness, and it increases the risk of cot death by at least 25%.
Effects of smoking on the bones
Smoking can cause your bones to become weak and brittle. Women need to be especially careful as they are more likely to suffer from brittle bones (osteoporosis) than non-smokers.
Effects of smoking on the circulation
When you smoke, the toxins from cigarette smoke enter your bloodstream. This can make your blood thicker and increase your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder than normal. The amount of oxygen in your blood can also reduce by the narrowing of arteries and this affects the blood circulating to your organs.
Together, these changes to your body when you smoke increase the chance of heart attack or stroke.