You don’t have to be a two-packs-a-day smoker to experience the ill effects of the tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide you’re putting into your system. Depending on diet, genetics, and other factors, you could start showing health problems at a fairly young age from only a few cigarettes a few times a week. Here are four of the major health risks smoking entails.

Cancer

Cigarette smoking deposits toxins in your system that are known to cause cancer. While this can affect various parts of the body, lung cancer is by far the most common. Over 80 percent of lung cancer diagnoses are caused by smoking. The longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you consume, the greater your risk of lung cancer. Even if you manage to beat it, treatments and surgeries can cause permanent damage.

Heart Disease

Smoking is also a leading cause of coronary problems. It contributes to the buildup of fatty plaques within the arteries, increasing the burden on the heart. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The longer you smoke, the greater the severity and risk of these cardiac events will be. If you quit smoking, the effects of heart disease are reversible.

Respiratory Problems

Lung damage from smoking doesn’t always take the form of cancer. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is another common result. This comes from several conditions or illnesses that appear due to weakening of the lungs and immune system from smoking. These illnesses include emphysema, bronchitis, and others which destroy respiratory tissues over time and can prove fatal. Sufferers may spend their lives with persistent coughing, phlegm, and shortness of breath.

Dental Health

Smoking also affects the teeth and gums. Common oral damage includes stained or discolored teeth, chronic bad breath, and higher risk of gum disease. Cigarettes can cause deterioration of the tissue between teeth and gums that loosens teeth, invites infections, and limits the benefits of oral surgery. To keep a healthy, attractive smile, smokers should seek out a dentist near you, such as Matthews Smiles Aesthetic & Reconstructive Dentistry, for regular cleanings and checkups.

Today, everyone should be well aware of both the risks and addictive nature of smoking cigarettes. Many people start smoking while they’re still young and in perfect health so they don’t feel worried. By the time they hit middle age they’re facing all of these health risks. Failing to quit can be very costly both to your wallet and to your quality of life.

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