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reviewed 7/20/2018

Smoking: The damage done

Almost every part of your body can be negatively affected by smoking. Take a deeper look and see the damage smoking causes.

The damage from smoking isn't limited to cancer. Smoking can harm just about every part of your body—sometimes in surprising ways.

Stroke:

Smoking can lead to blood clots and damage your blood vessels, increasing your risk for stroke. Those clots can cut off the supply of oxygen to your brain.

Vision loss:

The nicotine in cigarettes can spark chemical changes that make it harder for you to see at night. And smoking increases your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration—which can lead to blindness.

Aging:

Wrinkles around your eyes and mouth can appear as early as age 30, making you look older than you are.

Hearing loss:

Smoking can reduce the supply of oxygen to your inner ear.

Mouth sores:

Smokers more often get mouth sores, ulcers and gum disease than nonsmokers. And smoking dulls your taste buds, gives you bad breath and stains your teeth.

Emphysema:

Smoking permanently destroys small air sacs in your lungs, leading to chronic and incurable breathing problems.

Excessive mucus:

Smoking can kill tiny hairs in your airways that help sweep out mucus and keep your lungs clear. You might develop an early-morning smoker's cough as your lungs try to get rid of remaining mucus.

Bigger belly:

Smokers have larger bellies than nonsmokers. A large waist circumference raises your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Infertility:

Smoking can make it harder for both men and women to have babies.

Erectile dysfunction:

Men who smoke are more likely to have difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

Peripheral artery disease:

Arteries damaged by smoking can block blood flow to your legs and feet, causing numbness, pain and even gangrene.

Weak immune system:

Smoking damages your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infections. White blood cells work overtime and make your body stressed.

Broken bones:

Smoking causes bones to become thin and weak, which makes them break easily and heal slowly.

Remember: Much of this damage may be reversed by quitting smoking.

Sources: American Cancer Society; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Smokefree.gov; U.S. Surgeon General

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