Smoking has numerous health effects that can cause serious harm. Every year, thousands of people die in the U.S. from cigarette smoking-related illnesses. Smoking increases the risk of developing particular diseases and can harm just about every organ of the human body. Even short-term cigarette smoking can impact your health. Let’s take a closer look at some of the harmful effects of tobacco.

Lung Damage

Smoking can affect the lungs by causing damage that leads to breathing problems, from simple colds to severe illnesses like cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking can damage the airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs and cause lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This includes progressive conditions like emphysema, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and chronic bronchitis that features increasing breathlessness. Cigarette smoking chemicals interfere with the lung’s capacity to function adequately to clean itself of mucus and toxic substances. Lung cancer is perhaps the worst damage that smoking can cause to the lung.

Heart Disease

Smoking increases the risk of damage to the heart, blood cells, and blood vessels. It also lowers “good” cholesterol(HDL), alters the blood content, promotes the buildup of plaque in blood vessels, and limits blood flow that can stimulate blockage. Based on a 2016 study published in the American Heart Association, smoking is further associated with a thickening of the heart, diminished pumping ability and greater damage to the heart’s structure and function the longer a person smokes and the more cigarette smoked in the absence of heart disease. Smoking can lead to a range of cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Fertility Issues

Both men and women who smoke can develop fertility problems, where men can be faced with erectile dysfunction issues and women with damage to their reproductive system and difficulty getting pregnant. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the chemicals in cigarette smoke like, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and cyanide, speed up the loss rate of eggs that cannot regenerate or be replaced once they die, and decreases sperm quality with lower counts and motility, as well as increased numbers of abnormally shaped sperm. Men and women who smoke are at a higher risk of infertility than non-smokers.

Colorectal Cancer

Smoking contributes to colorectal cancer, which is one of the major causes of cancer-related death in the U.S. Colorectal cancer forms in the colon or the rectum, commonly starting as a polyp in the inner lining in these portions of the large intestine. Based on a 2016 study published by Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (CGH), smoking significantly increase the risk of colorectal and was higher for men, particularly those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day. Heavy smokers are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

It is undeniable that smoking can cause some severe damage to the body. Smoking massively increases the risk of developing smoking-related health issues, but even light smokers can be impacted by the toxic chemical in cigarette smoke. Lung damage and lung cancer, colorectal cancer, infertility, and heart disease are a few of the harmful effect of smoking.