The Asthma Center

Diseases linked to smoking

Smoking and Asthma
Asthma does not originate as a result of cigarette smoking. It begins as an independent process and is characterized by airway inflammation and hyper-reactivity. However exposure to cigarette smoke, either by active or passive means, is among the worst asthma triggers and perpetuates chronic asthma.

Family members and friends who smoke around children and adults with asthma play a major role in contributing to their asthma. If you smoke and have asthma, you have little chance of controlling your asthma. Cigarette smoking in pregnant women increases the risk of asthma in their offspring.

Smoking and COPD
Smoking is a major cause of COPD; perhaps 80% or more of COPD cases are a direct result of smoking cigarettes. More than 90% of those with a diagnosis of emphysema have been cigarette smokers. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of developing COPD. However even passive exposure to cigarette smoke increases your risk of developing COPD. Although lung function is gradually lost as part of the normal aging process, smokers lose their lung function at twice the rate of non-smokers.

Smoking and Cancer

Developing lung cancer is 20 times more common in smokers than in non-smokers. It is estimated that approximately 80% of women that have lung cancer were smokers, and that 90% of men with lung cancer were smokers. The risk of lung cancer increases in relation to the cumulative amount of cigarettes smoked and the length of time that you have smoked. In addition to statistical evidence that cigarette smoke causes cancer, there is much experimental evidence that cigarette smoke is carcinogenic and will induce all sorts of cancerous tumors in many animals. Smokers seem to have an increased risk of cancer of the head, neck, bladder and pancreas.

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease
Smoking is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Cigarette smoking appears to be equal to other risk factors, such as hypertension and elevated cholesterol, in causing heart disease.

Cigarette smoking contributes to the development of heart disease in a number of ways including: direct damage to blood vessels, increased lipids, increased tendency for blood to coagulate and increased heart rate. Cigarette smoke directly enhances the tendency for a blood vessel in the heart to become inflamed and blocked. Smoking also puts diabetic individuals at special risk by advancing diabetic vascular disease and affecting the heart, kidneys, brain and retinas.

In addition, once cardiac disease has been established, cigarette smoking can increase the risk of an irregular heart rhythm, lower oxygen to the heart leading to new damage, and possibly even lead to a fatal heart attack.