10 of the Worst Diseases Caused by Smoking

While smoking cigarettes will eventually kill you, you may suffer from some pretty horrific diseases and health conditions as a result of smoking. The following are a few of the most heinous diseases caused by smoking*:

1. Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that impairs the passage of air into and out of the lungs, or "breathing." Cigarette smoke irritates the airways and can precipitate severe asthma attacks. Asthma is a serious lung disease that affects approximately 25 million Americans. Smoking exacerbates the problem.

2. Reproductive Effects in Women

In women, smoking can result in ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. The egg will not survive and, if left untreated, will endanger the mother's life. Smoking also decreases fertility, making it more difficult to conceive.

3. Premature, Low Birth-Weight Babies

Smoking has a detrimental effect on not only the mother's health, but also on the baby's. Smoking during pregnancy can result in premature births and/or low birth weights. Babies born prematurely or with abnormally small heads are at an increased risk of developing health complications and even death.

4. Lung Cancer

Lung cancer claims more lives than any other type of cancer. Cigarette smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, accounting for nearly 90% of lung cancer cases. Your chance of survival five years after diagnosis is approximately 1 in 5.

5. Diabetes

If you smoke, you increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Cigarette smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. Additionally, smoking increases the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes, such as heart and kidney disease, decreased blood flow to the legs and feet (resulting in infections and possible amputation), blindness, and nerve damage.

6. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

COPD is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that makes breathing difficult. It results in severe long-term disability and premature death. COPD typically begins by making physical activity difficult, such as playing with a grandchild, and gradually worsens, to the point where climbing a short flight of stairs or even walking to get the mail becomes exhausting or impossible. It can imprison people in their homes, preventing them from doing the things they want or seeing friends. Cigarette smoking is responsible for approximately 85–90% of all COPD cases. In the United States, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death.

7. Heart Disease

Smoking has a detrimental effect on nearly every organ in the body, including the heart. Smoking can clog and narrow your arteries, resulting in decreased blood and oxygen flow to your heart. When cigarette consumption declined in the United States, so did heart disease rates. Nonetheless, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

8. Stroke

Due to the way smoking affects your arteries, it can result in a stroke. A stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is temporarily cut off. Brain cells become oxygen-deprived and begin to die. A stroke can result in paralysis, slurred speech, brain damage, and death. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States.

9. Blindness, Cataracts and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Smoking can cause blindness. It can wreak havoc on your eyes and result in vision loss. Smoking causes age-related macular degeneration. It is the most common cause of blindness in adults 65 years of age.

10. Over 10 Other Types of Cancer, Including Colon, Cervix, Liver, Stomach and Pancreatic Cancer

Essentially, all cancers. Smoking increases the risk of developing a second primary cancer in both cancer patients and survivors. And we now know that smoking causes at least a dozen types of cancer, including liver and colorectal, and reduces prostate cancer patients' survival rates.

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