Smoking and Your Body

Health effects of smoking

There is strong medical evidence that smoking tobacco is related to more than two dozen diseases and conditions. It has negative effects on nearly every organ of the body and reduces overall health. Smoking tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and has negative health impacts on people of all ages: unborn babies, infants, children, adolescents, adults, and seniors.

Serious health problems that can result from smoking tobacco

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death due to cancer in Canada. Smoking tobacco is the single most important preventable cause of lung cancer, accounting for 85% of all new cases of lung cancer in Canada. Smoking causes genetic changes in the cells of the lung that lead to the development of lung cancer.

Other cancers

Research shows that smoking tobacco can lead to respiratory and upper digestive tract cancers, particularly cancer of the mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) and esophagus. Research also indicates that smoking tobacco is a contributing cause of leukemia and cancers of the bladder, stomach, kidney and pancreas. Female smokers are at greater risk for developing cervical cancer.

Respiratory diseases

The respiratory diseases associated with smoking are often grouped together and referred to as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis. Cigarette smoking connected to an increased risk of respiratory symptoms, including coughing, phlegm, wheezing and difficult or laboured breathing (dyspnea).

Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are diseases and injuries of the heart, the blood vessels of the heart, and of the system of blood vessels (veins and arteries) throughout the body and brain. Cardiovascular diseases caused by smoking include heart attacks and angina (coronary heart diseases), blockages in the legs (peripheral vascular disease), and strokes (cerebrovascular diseases).

Related Resources

Page details

Date modified: