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Health Effects of Smoking

Additional Risks of Smoking

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Updated September 08, 2004

Smokers have a harder time healing from surgeries, and have more overall health issues than do nonsmokers. This results in more time away from work, and more doctor and hospital visits. Smoking compromises a person's health in so many ways.
  • Smokers are more likely to be absent from work than nonsmokers, and their illnesses last longer.
  • Smokers tend to incur more medical costs, to see physicians more often in the outpatient setting, and to be admitted to the hospital more often and for longer periods than nonsmokers.
  • Smokers have a lower survival rate after surgery compared to that of nonsmokers because of damage to the body's host defenses, delayed wound healing, and reduced immune response. Smokers are at greater risk for complications following surgery, including wound infections, postoperative pneumonia, and other respiratory complications.
  • Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that can result in the loss of teeth and bone loss. Smoking is causally related to periodontitis. This may be because smoking affects the body's ability to fight infection and repair tissue.
  • Peptic ulcers, which are located in the digestive tract (stomach and duodenum), usually occur in people with an infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. Among persons with this infection, smokers are more likely to develop peptic ulcers than nonsmokers. In severe cases, peptic ulcers can lead to death.
  • Although only a small number of studies have looked at the relationship between smoking and erectile dysfunction, their findings suggest that smoking may be associated with an increased risk for this condition. More studies are needed, however, before researchers can conclude that smoking is causally related to erectile dysfunction.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004.
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