Diseases That Smoking Can Cause

According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. Cigarette smoke contains many harmful ingredients, with nicotine and carbon monoxide being among the most lethal. The inhalation of secondhand smoke also increases your risk of disease. There are several diseases caused by cigarette smoke that you should be aware of.

Cardiovascular Disease

Smoking increases your risk for cardiovascular (heart) disease. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot, reports the American Heart Association. If you use any hormonal type contraception (birth control pill, shot, ring or patch) and smoke, you are at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Cigarette smoke decreases your good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol), and leads to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries that can raise blood pressure, lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack) or become dislodged and travel to the brain (stroke).


Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is responsible for 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths, reports the American Cancer Society. Cigarettes contain harmful cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. Types of cancer associated with cigarette smoke include lung, larynx, oral cavity, throat, esophagus, stomach, kidney, bladder, cervix, bladder and pancreas. If you are a smoker annual chest X rays and pulmonary testing will monitor lung function and observe for suspicious findings associated with lung cancer.

Pulmonary Disease

According to the American Lung Association, approximately 80 to 90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths are attributed to smoking. Cigarette smoke destroys the bronchi and alveoli in the lungs, making lung tissue fibrous and resistant to oxygenation. Smoking can cause a worsening of asthma symptoms and will increase your risk for developing seasonal bronchitis and pneumonia since damaged lungs are unable to fight off infection as well as healthy lungs. Pulmonary function testing and X rays are helpful to monitor lung function and disease. If you are a smoker and develop a cough, seek immediate medical attention.

Newborn Disease

Smoking during pregnancy can lead to an infant with low birth weight, narrowed airways and reduced lung function, and is responsible for 10 percent of all infant deaths, states the American Lung Association.

About this Author

Laura Candelaria is a family nurse practitioner and assistant professor of nursing and nutritional science. Her experience includes neonatal and pediatric intensive-care, women’s oncology, gynecology, obstetrics, lactation, nutrition, and infertility. She has been published in “Nursing Spectrum,” “Newsday,” and LIVESTRONG Health.