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Health Effects of Smoking on the Lungs

Lungs are located in your chest. They move air in and out of your body, taking in oxygen and pushing out carbon dioxide. The oxygen is carried through a complicated network of branching airways (called bronchi), which eventually lead to tiny air sacs (called alveoli). This network of airways looks somewhat like an upside-down tree.

The Health Effects of Smoking on the Lungs

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer, and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and in 2003, about 157,200 people died from lung cancer and there were about 171,900 new cases, in the United States.

Smoking low tar-cigarettes does not substantially reduce the risk of lung cancer.

Smoking causes injury to the airways and air sacs of your lungs, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States with more than 100,000 deaths per year. Smoking causes more than 90 percent of these deaths.

Smokers have more acute lower respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia or acute bronchitis, than nonsmokers. These are usually diagnosed as infections of the lower respiratory tract (bronchial tubes and lung illnesses). They are caused by viral or bacterial infections.

Smoking is related to asthma among children and adolescents. Asthma is a disease that causes inflammation of the airways, causing them to become constricted, and obstruct airflow in and out of the lungs. There is currently no cure for asthma, which may recur throughout life.

Smoking is related to chronic coughing and wheezing among adults, children, and adolescents.

Smoking during childhood and adolescence retards lung growth. Lung function, which is a measure of how effectively your lungs move air in and out of the body, decreases naturally as you get older, but the decline is faster in smokers.

Smoking during pregnancy causes reduced lung function in infants.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Two weeks to three months after smokers quit, lung function starts to improve.

Two weeks to three months after smokers quit, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decrease.

The risk of lung cancer decreases by as much as half ten years after quitting smoking completely.

The risk of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is reduced after quitting smoking completely.

After smokers quit, they eventually return to a normal rate of decline of age-related lung function.

Ten years after smokers quit, the risk of lung cancer drops to nearly one half that of a smoker.

Smokers who quit lower their risk of bronchitis and pneumonia.

Source: Surgeon General's 2004 Report

Health Effects of Smoking on the Body

What Smoking Does to the Brain - Smoking has physical and psychological effects on the brain.

Smoking Affects the Eyes - Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts.

Mouth, Throat Larynx, Esophagus - Are all effected by smoking and secondhand smoke.

Smoking Damages the Lungs - Smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer.

Smoking Damages the Heart - Smoking damages the heart and weakens the blood vessels.

How Smoking Affects the Stomach - Smoking causes stomach cancer.

Smoking and the Kidneys - Smoking also causes kidney cancer.

Smoking Damages your Bladder - Smoking is also cause cancer of the bladder.

Smoking and the Pancreas - Smoking causes pancreatic cancer.

Smoking and Pregnancy - Smoking harms both the mother and the unborn child.
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