The Anatomy of Smoking

How Tobacco Affects Your Body

If you're a smoker, you may know you should stop. That's a good start toward quitting.

But you need a powerful reason to quit for good. Knowing the truth about how smoking harms your health may be what it takes.

It's a fact that smoking is bad for nearly every part of your body. Here are a few places smoking does damage.

Airways

When you smoke, the tissues in your lungs are inflamed. This can lead to serious disorders. One is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking can also bring on cancer in your:

  • Lungs
  • Throat
  • Mouth

Heart

Smoking harms the cells lining the blood vessels and heart. And it can raise the risk of clots that cause heart attacks.

Smoking can also play a part in causing an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is when the larger artery near the stomach grows weak.

Other Blood Vessels

Damage to vessel linings can cause them to narrow. This means not enough blood flows to the:

  • Kidneys
  • Stomach
  • Arms, legs, and feet

This can lead to problems like pain and gangrene.

Brain

Blood clots that form in damaged arteries can travel to your brain. This can cause a stroke that may be deadly.

Bones & Tendons

Smoking raises the risk for osteoporosis in both men and women. This is when bones grow weak and are more likely to break.

Smokers are also at higher risk of:

  • Overuse injuries, like tendinitis
  • Traumatic injuries, such as sprains

Immune System

Smokers have smaller amounts than nonsmokers of some types of cells that destroy germs. That leaves you more vulnerable to infections.

In addition, smoking can cause cancer of the:

  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys
  • Cervix
  • Stomach
  • Blood (leukemia)

And smoking raises your risk for eye disease and dental problems.

Women who smoke tend to have more problems with pregnancy. These include:

  • Premature births
  • Low-birth-weight babies
  • Stillbirths

And their babies are more likely to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) than babies whose mothers don't smoke.

Turn Your Risks Around

On the bright side, there are many benefits to giving up smoking. They are listed at morehealth.org/quit4good. There you'll also find a guide to help you quit.

Why wait? If you quit now, your health risks start dropping now too. And they keep going down, no matter how long you've smoked.

A tobacco quitline can also help you quit for good. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).