Cigarette Smoking and Cancer
Smoking harms nearly every major organ of the body. The risk of developing smoking-related diseases, such as lung and other cancers, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory illnesses, increases with total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke. This includes:
- The number of cigarettes a person smokes each day
- The intensity of smoking (the size and frequency of puffs)
- The age at which smoking began (the number of years a person has smoked)
- A smoker's secondhand smoke exposure.
Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. Quitting smoking decreases the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease. The earlier a person quits, the greater the health benefit. For example, research has shown that people who quit before age 50 reduce their risk of dying in the next 15 years by half compared with those who continue to smoke.
Smoking light cigarettes, as compared to cigarettes with higher tar and nicotine, provides no clear benefit to health.
The following is a summary of key points found in this article:
- Cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, and bladder.
- Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths among US nonsmokers each year.
- Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical agents, including over 60 substances that are known to cause cancer.
- The risk of developing smoking-related cancers (as well as noncancerous diseases) increases with total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke.
- Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits, including decreasing the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.