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Smoking - Impact on Different Organs

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Smoking is injurious to health and causes issues to nearly all organs in the body. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At December 8, 2022
Reviewed AtAugust 14, 2023

Introduction:

Smoking has become very addictive due to the drug nicotine present in tobacco. Along with nicotine, about 7,000 other chemicals are inhaled by the smoker while cigarette smoking. These chemicals are produced from burning tobacco leaves. Most of these compounds cause damaging changes in the body. A study reveals that tobacco causes eight million deaths every year. About 90 % of lung cancer is caused by smoking, and 80 % of lung disease deaths occur from smoking.

What Does Cigarette Smoke Contain?

Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, along with about 7,000 other chemicals obtained from burning tobacco leaves. Tobacco smoke contains over 70 known potentially dangerous cancer-causing chemicals. Smoking harms almost all the organs in the body, causing many diseases and disrupting general health conditions. Tobacco smoke comprises the most dangerous chemicals that, include:

  • Tar – Tar is a sticky, brown substance that stains teeth, fingernails, and lung tissues. It is made up of solid particles suspended in tobacco smoke. These particles contain chemicals that also include cancer-causing substances known as carcinogens.

  • Carbon Monoxide – It is one of the most poisonous gases. It is odorless and colorless, and exposure to carbon dioxide results in fatal concerns like death as it has the potential to replace oxygen in the blood. Thus, in people who smoke, the carbon monoxide in their blood disrupts the oxygen circulation to get to their organs and muscles.

  • Oxidizing Chemicals – These are highly reactive chemicals that can cause damage to the heart muscles and blood vessels in individuals who smoke. They damage the heart muscles and result in stroke, heart disease, and other blood vessel diseases. This occurs when these oxidizing chemicals react with cholesterol and gives rise to fatty material build-up on artery walls and, thus, damaging circulation.

  • Toxic Metals – Tobacco smoke contains several toxic metals like arsenic, lead, beryllium, chromium, cadmium, cobalt, and nickel that cause cancer.

  • Radioactive Compounds – It is known that tobacco smoke contains radioactive compounds which are potentially carcinogenic and hazardous to health.

What Are the Effects of Smoking on the Organ Systems?

Inhaling tobacco smoke causes damage to nearly all the organs of the body resulting in fatal diseases.

1) Effects of Smoking on the Respiratory System

The hazardous effects of tobacco smoke on the respiratory system include:

  • Tobacco smoke acts as an irritant to the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box).

  • Tobacco smoke reduces lung function as it causes excess mucus in the lung passages, swelling, and narrowing of the lung airways, which results in breathlessness.

  • It leads to the build-up of poisonous substances within the lungs, which results in lung irritation and damage.

  • It results in an increased risk of lung infection.

  • It results in persistent coughing and wheezing.

  • It causes irreversible damage to the air sacs of the lungs.

2) Effects of Smoking on the Circulatory System

  • It elevates blood pressure and heart rate significantly.

  • It causes constriction of blood vessels in the skin, resulting in lowered skin temperature.

  • It results in carrying less oxygen in the blood during exercise.

  • It results in thicker and stickier blood that is prone to clotting.

  • It causes damage to the artery lining, which is a predisposing factor to atherosclerosis.

  • It leads to reduced blood flow to the extremities.

  • It results in an increased risk of heart disease due to blood supply blockage and blood clotting.

3) Effects of Smoking on the Musculoskeletal System

  • It results in the tightening of certain muscles.

  • The nicotine in cigarettes slows the production of bone-forming cells known as osteoblasts.

  • Smoking impacts by decreasing the absorption of calcium from the diet. Thus, there is a compromise in bone mineralization. This is the reason why smokers develop low bone density, fragile bones, and osteoporosis.

4) Effects of Smoking on the Sexual Organs

  • Low sperm count.

  • Fertility issues.

  • A higher percentage of deformed sperm.

  • Genetic damage to sperm.

  • Impotence is likely due to reduced blood flow, circulation, and damage to the blood vessels of the penis.

5) The Ill Effects of Tobacco Smoke on the Female Body Include

  • Fertility issues.

  • Irregular menstrual cycle.

  • Early menopause (one or two years earlier).

  • Increased risk of cervical cancer.

  • Smoking, along with the use of oral contraceptive pills, leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

6) Effects of Smoking on the Immune System

  • Increased risk of infections such as pneumonia and influenza.

  • Leads to more severe and longer-lasting illnesses.

  • Decrease in the antioxidants that fight cancer cells.

7) Effects of Smoking on the Skin

  • Premature aging of the skin.

  • Prominent wrinkles on the skin.

  • Skin pigmentation.

  • Psoriasis.

  • Acne.

  • Vasculitis.

  • Eczema.

  • Skin cancer.

  • Worsening of the already existing skin conditions like psoriasis, acne vulgaris, and eczema.

8) Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

  • Gum disease (periodontitis).

  • Oral cancer.

  • Gingivitis or gum issues.

  • Lose teeth.

  • Complications after tooth removal and gum and oral surgery.

9) Effects of Smoking on Pregnancy

  • Smoking during pregnancy damages the fetus and causes issues in the lung and brain.

  • There are studies that have proven that cleft lip is associated with the mother being a chronic smoker.

  • High probability of stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature birth.

  • Smoking can pose a potential risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

  • The child born will have weaker lungs.

  • Low- birth weight is also associated with smoking.

What Are the Diseases Caused by Long-Term Smoking?

A known smoker is at a high risk of developing numerous dangerous diseases, including:

  • Cancer of the lung, nose, larynx, tongue, mouth, nasal sinus, throat, bone marrow, pancreas, liver, esophagus, kidney, bladder, cervix, ureter, ovary, skin, bowel, and stomach.

  • Lung infections and diseases such as asthma, chronic cough and wheeze, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD).

  • Cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

  • Ulcers of the digestive system.

  • The decline in bone density, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and recurrent hip fractures.

  • Myalgia.

  • Type 2 diabetes.

  • Affects the immune system leading to medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Increases the risk for tuberculosis.

  • Smoking results in poor blood circulation in the extremities, which can lead to swelling and pain and, in severe cases, gangrene and amputation.

Conclusion:

Smoking and tobacco use damage every organ in the smoker’s body and also poses potentially dangerous medical conditions in passive smokers as well. Smoking tobacco releases nicotine and also more than 7000 chemicals, including numerous carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals), into the lungs, blood, and organs. Thus, smoking has a negative impact on a person's health and critically reduces their lifespan.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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