From the desk of Donald B. Hufford, M.D., WHA Chief Medical Officer

Did you know?

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.

Smoking also leads to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It can also cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, and  diabetes. Over time, it can narrow and damage your arteries, increase your blood pressure and make your blood clot more easily, thereby increasing your chance of having a heart attack.

Chronic smoking can shorten your lifespan and age you beyond your years.

On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Smoking can also affect your skin, your hair, your blood vessels and nearly every other part of your body. The chemicals in tobacco break down collagen and elastin, which are necessary elements that prevent wrinkles and sagging skin.  Smoking also yellows tooth enamel and causes hair loss. In fact, some research shows that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to go bald.

Smoking and diabetes is not a healthy combination.

A person living with diabetes who also smokes is at greatest risk for complications. Smoking can drive up blood sugar levels and make diabetes more difficult to control, which ultimately increases the risk of complications: loss of sight, kidney failure, and circulatory disorders that can lead to amputation of certain extremities.

Smoking increases risk for loss of bone density (mass)

Women in particular are at greatest risk for losing bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis and a higher risk of fractures.

Smoking linked to infertility

Smoking can even compromise your ability to conceive a baby. Women who smoke are 60 percent more likely to be infertile and also have more miscarriages and premature births than nonsmoking women.

Now, for the good news.

If you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past and haven’t been able, you have good reason to take heart. Most studies show that people who have been successful tried multiple times. So don’t give up! Talk with your doctor because there are some prescription medications and patches that may be helpful. Take WHA's online smoking cessation course through our wellness portal or join a class available through our network of medical groups.

Above all, remember this:

When you quit smoking, your body starts to repair itself immediately. Within one year after you quit,  your risk of developing heart disease drops by half. After 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is no greater than that of someone who never smoked. Work with your doctor to get advice about kicking the habit now.

Last review date: February 9, 2019