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7 Shocking Smoking Facts That Will Make You Want to Quit Today

Smoking not only causes cancer, but it’s associated with stress, erectile dysfunction and more.

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By Lea Herring

Smoking causes roughly 480,000 deaths a year in the US—41,000 of them from secondhand smoke. Smoking cigarettes is addictive and expensive, too; most smokers spend around $3,000 a year on cigarettes—as much as a house or car payment, adds family practitioner Farah H. Akhdar, DO, of St. Joseph Mercy Livonia Hospital in Redford, Michigan.

But that's not all. Here are seven more smoking facts that might convince you to quit.

There are up to 7,000 chemicals in a burning cigarette

2 / 9 There are up to 7,000 chemicals in a burning cigarette

The inside of a cigarette contains tobacco and chemicals like arsenic and cadmium, and when it’s burning it produces carbon monoxide. “Out of those 7,000 chemicals, 70 of them are known to cause cancer, and that’s a fact everyone should be aware of,” says Dr. Akhdar. Other common chemicals and poisons found in cigarettes are:

  • Methanol
  • Ammonia
  • Formaldehyde
Smoking is tied to stress

3 / 9 Smoking is tied to stress

Many people with disorders like anxiety or depression feel that they need to smoke to relieve stress—but smoking can increase anxiety. “Smokers are mistaken in thinking that when under stress, smoking will relieve their symptoms. It is the nicotine depletion that actually causes stress to begin with," says Dr. Akhdar. Stress levels are higher in smokers than nonsmokers, and extra stress can raise blood pressure and heart attack risk.

Here's why: When you smoke, extra receptors are created in the brain to handle the amount of nicotine entering your body. When you're not smoking--when you're not feeding those extra receptors with nicotine—you're left feeling anxious and irritable. “Nicotine addiction happens when it’s depleted from the body, which makes you feel even more stressed and anxious,” says Dr. Akhdar.

Smoking can cause more than just lung cancer

4 / 9 Smoking can cause more than just lung cancer

“Smoking doesn’t just cause lung cancer, it can cause many types of cancer,” says Dr. Akhdar. The American Cancer Society reports that 48.5 percent of deaths from 12 types of cancers are a result of smoking—including liver, stomach and bladder cancer.

It can also put you at risk for chronic conditions like lung disease, respiratory infections, diabetes and even stroke. It is never too late to consider quitting tobacco use, "According to The World Health Organization quitting smoking for one year, decreases your risk for coronary heart disease by half of what it would be as a smoker." adds Dr. Akhdar.

Smoking may increase your risk of cognitive decline

5 / 9 Smoking may increase your risk of cognitive decline

Cognitive functions like memory performance and attention, have been known to decline faster in smokers. In a study of 7,236 men and women aged 44 to 69, researchers found that among middle-aged male smokers had more cognitive decline over the 10-year study. Smoking can also increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by up to 79 percent.

“All forms of tobacco have long-term effects,” says Dr. Akhdar.

Secondhand smoke can lead to ear infections and high blood pressure

6 / 9 Secondhand smoke can lead to ear infections and high blood pressure

Smokers aren't the only ones who suffer from inhaling smoke; secondhand smoke can expose people to dangerous chemicals like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, too. In fact, it’s so dangerous, it causes around 41,000 preventable deaths annually.

Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for kids. It leads to 790,000 doctor visits a year for ear infections, and is also responsible for around 202,000 asthma attacks. “Secondhand smoking exposure even in small amounts can create a higher risk for ADHD, behavioral problems, high blood pressure, cavities, lung disease and sudden infant syndrome (SIDS),” says Dr. Akhdar.

Your fertility could decrease

7 / 9 Your fertility could decrease

Smoking increases the risk of miscarriages and birth defects, and can reduce fertility, regardless of gender. For men, it lowers sperm count and slows sperm motility. Women who smoke may have fewer eggs for fertilization, and can experience menopause up to four years earlier than women who don't smoke.

Smoking affects your sexual performance

8 / 9 Smoking affects your sexual performance

Chemicals found in cigarettes, like nicotine and lead, can harm blood vessels and slow down blood flow for erections. “Smoking is known to cause peripheral vascular disease, which can lead to erectile dysfunction and affect sperm health,” says Dr. Akhdar. Erectile dysfunction affects around 18 million males over 20-years-old, and smoking is a big factor.

Lung performance is also affected, and makes both men and women feel more winded during and after sex. In fact, couples where one partner smokes have been shown to have sex less often than those who don’t smoke.

 

Kick the habit in the butt

9 / 9 Kick the habit in the butt

Before you quit, the American Lung Association suggests defining your reasons, and making sure you understand the process. Talking to your primary care physician can help reach your goal. You can also:

  • Create a strong support group of family and friends
  • Identify triggers like cigarette smoke and lighters, and learn how to avoid them
  • Do exercises such as walking or yoga
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on a toothpick to curb the physical habit

“The more you see how beneficial it is for you to quit smoking, the more likely you’ll consider a plan to quit smoking,” says Dr. Akhdar.

Quit Smoking

Quit Smoking

Smoking tobacco products can lead to severe health problems and even death. While quitting smoking can be very difficult for some smokers, there are smoking cessation programs and medications that can help smokers quit. There are ...

many lifelong benefits of doing so, like increased lung function and decreased risk of heart disease and cancer. Understanding the importance of quitting smoking and all options available to help stop smoking is key to long-term success.
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