Smoking Diseases

This smoking diseases list takes a chronological look at the scientic evidence on diseases caused by smoking cigarettes to smokers and also to non smokers who may be affected by secondhand smoke.

Diseases Caused By Smoking Cigarettes

Lung Cancer

Dr. Leroy E. Burney issued the US Public Health Service's first statement on cigarette smoking In July 1957. It identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer.

Each succeeding Surgeon General has had occasion to issue additional and stronger warnings. These have linked smoking with lung cancer, with heart disease, with chronic lung disease, with other cancers, and with increases in overall mortality.3

Bronchitis

In 1962 the Royal College of Physicians in London concluded that "Cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and bronchitis, and probably contributes to the development of coronary heart disease and various other less common diseases. It delays healing of gastric and duodenal ulcers."1

Smoking Causes Heart Disease

Fifteen years later in 1979, there was no longer any doubt that cigarette smoking was directly related to coronary heart disease for both men and women in the United States.

By 1982, the foreword to the surgeon general’s report declared that "Cigarette smoking is a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, and esophagus, and is a contributory factor for the development of cancers of the bladder, pancreas, and kidney."2

COPD is a Smoking Disease

Traditionally, chronic bronchitis and emphysema have been subsumed under the term chronic obstructive lung diseases (COLD) which is also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoking is the major cause of COLD in the United States for both men and women.6

Emphysema

It is now recognized that COPD comprises three separate, but often interconnected, disease processes:

  • chronic mucus hypersecretion, resulting in chronic cough and phlegm production;
  • airway thickening and narrowing with expiratory airflow obstruction;
  • and emphysema, which is an abnormal dilation of the distal airspaces along with destruction of alveolar walls. The last two conditions can develop into symptomatic ventilatory limitation.5

Secondhand Smoke Related Diseases

More recently, the 2006 surgeon general report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke concludes:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.
  • Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.6

Summary

So, what diseases can you get from smoking?

Based on the scientific evidence about smoking diseases we have considered in this article, smoking causes:

  • heart disease
  • cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, and esophagus
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD or COLD)

Smoking is also a contributory factor for the development of cancers of the bladder, pancreas, and kidney. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.

References

  1. Royal College of Physicians. Smoking and health. Summary and report of the Royal College of Physicians of London on smoking in relation to cancer of the lung and other diseases. New York: Pitman Publishing, 1962.
  2. US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Smoking and health. Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. Atlanta: Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, 1964. (PHS Publication No 1103.)
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: Cancer. A report of the surgeon general. Rockville, MD: Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1982. (DHHS Publication No (PHS) 82-50179.)
  4. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: Cardiovascular Disease. A report of the surgeon general. Rockville, MD: Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1983. (DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 84-50204.)
  5. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. A report of the surgeon general. Rockville, MD: Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1983. ((HSM) 72-7513)
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.

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