Is smoking a risk factor for autoimmune diseases?
The immune system is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and disease. Smoking compromises the immune system, making smokers more likely to have respiratory infections.
Smoking also causes several autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also play a role in periodic flare-ups of signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Smoking doubles your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Smoking has recently been linked to type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. Smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Additionally, the more cigarettes an individual smokes, the higher the risk for diabetes.
How does smoking affect my bones?
Recent studies show a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. Smoking is one of many factors—including weight, alcohol consumption, and activity level—that increase your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture.
Significant bone loss has been found in older women and men who smoke. Quitting smoking appears to reduce the risk for low bone mass and fractures. However, it may take several years to lower a former smoker’s risk.
In addition, smoking from an early age puts women at even higher risk for osteoporosis. Smoking lowers the level of the hormone estrogen in your body, which can cause you to go through menopause earlier, boosting your risk for osteoporosis.
How does smoking affect my heart and blood vessels?
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells and damage the function of your heart. This damage increases your risk for:
Atherosclerosis, a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in your arteries
Aneurysms, which are bulging blood vessels that can burst and cause death
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes:
Coronary heart disease (CHD), narrow or blocked arteries around the heart
Heart attack and damage to your arteries
Heart-related chest pain
High blood pressure
Coronary Heart disease, where platelets—components in the blood—stick together along with proteins for form clots which can then get stuck in the plaque in the walls of arteries and cause heart attacks
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs
Stroke, which is sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or bleeding
Breathing tobacco smoke can even change your blood chemistry and damage your blood vessels. As you inhale smoke, cells that line your body’s blood vessels react to its chemicals. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up and your blood vessels thicken and narrow.
How does smoking affect my lungs and breathing?
Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing and scars your lungs. Smoking causes:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that gets worse over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms
Emphysema, a condition in which the walls between the air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back. Your lung tissue is destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
Chronic bronchitis, which causes swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. When this happens, less air flows to and from your lungs.
People with asthma can suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke.