Illnesses and effects on the body caused by smoking including diabetes and aged skin.

other health effects
Smoking has adverse effects on almost every major organ of the body and on almost every part of the body, inside and out. Not only that, it affects the appearance of your skin and hair and leaves you with foul smelling breath and clothes.

Many people who die of smoking will do so prematurely. The risk of premature death is higher the younger a person starts to smoke and with the amount of cigarettes that they smoke a day.

The main killers caused from smoking are coronary heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, other forms of cancer and peripheral vascular disease.
However, other diseases or health effects that are caused from smoking can also seriously debilitate a person's health and restrict them from enjoying a normal and healthy life.

Below are a number of other illnesses and health consequences that may be brought about and are definitely more likely if a person smokes.

In our guide to smoking and other diseases and health effects:
  • Diabetes type 2
  • Ulcers
  • Cataracts
  • Back pain
  • Skin
  • The contraceptive pill
  • Osteoporosis
  • The immune system

Diabetes type 2

Statistics show that smokers are 50% - 90% more likely to develop diabetes that people who have never smoked. There are several risk factors to the development of diabetes type 2, which sufferers usually develop from the age of 40 onwards, and amongst others smoking is one of them. People with high blood pressure or high cholesterol are at a greater risk of developing diabetes and smoking increases both.

Diabetes occurs when the body can no longer regulate the amount of glucose or sugar in the blood and levels in the body become too high. This usually happens when the body becomes resistant to the natural hormone insulin or if there is a shortage in the production of insulin by the body.

Several studies have shown that smoking may cause a substantial resistance to insulin, which would in turn eventually lead to the development of diabetes type 2. Smokers have a tendency to produce more of a certain hormone that acts against insulin than non-smokers.

Diabetes can be a very dangerous disease if it is not carefully controlled. Diabetes can cause blindness and kidney failure and sufferers of diabetes have an increased risk of developing heart disease or cardiovascular disease. If this is coupled with smoking, then the risks are increased even higher.

High levels of glucose in the body will increase the amount of fatty deposits and cholesterol in the arteries. This leads to atherosclerosis, which is also triggered by smoking. Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of heart disease and most types of cardiovascular disease. Studies show that people with diabetes who smoke are three times as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than non-smoking diabetics. (see section on smoking and cardiovascular disease)


For many years doctors have thought that ulcers were formed due to stress, alcohol and too much spicy food. They have now discovered that this is not the case. Ulcers form due to an infection by a bacterium that lives and grows in the stomach.

When infection occurs, this bacterium produces substances that damage and inflame the stomach lining and make it more susceptible to the harmful effects of acid. Acid that is produced in the stomach then gets through the damaged lining and into the sensitive tissues of the digestive system, which then leads to the formation of an ulcer.

Smoking is also another major cause of ulcers, as the nicotine in the tobacco smoke causes the stomach to create much higher quantities and concentrations of acid, which erode the stomach's lining and lead to an ulcer.

People who smoke and who have an ulcer are twice as likely to die from it than non-smokers with an ulcer.

Ulcers also take longer to heal if people smoke, as the nicotine interferes with the repairing of the stomach lining and reoccurrence of an ulcer is more common if a person smokes.


Cataracts, which usually lead to blindness, affect more than 3 million people in the US and more than 50 million people all over the world.

A cataract is the clouding of the part of the eye that is responsible for focus and image production. People with cataracts usually have a blurred vision and over time their vision will deteriorate and may result in blindness.

Smoking cigarettes is a big risk factor in the development of cataracts and the risk is increased with the number of years a person has smoked and the amount of cigarettes a person smokes a day.

Smokers who smoke at least one packet of cigarettes a day will have a 50% increased risk of developing cataracts than a person who has never smoked.

The majority of cataract formations are caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unbalanced molecules in the body that try to stick to other molecules in order to stabilize themselves. This process can damage healthy cells due to the oxidising effects it causes.

As well as being responsible for cataracts, free radicals in the body can also cause the arteries to harden and can bring on the development of some forms of cancer.

Anti-oxidants are produced by the body to destroy the free radicals and to protect tissues from damage, however research has found that smokers have lower levels of anti-oxidants in their blood, which means that they will have more free radicals available to damage their cells.

Furthermore, free radicals are also found in tobacco smoke and are one of the 4,000 harmful substances that the smoker inhales into his body.

Back pain

Some studies have linked smoking, especially heavy smoking with severe back pain.

It is thought that this is because smoking inhibits blood flow to the area of the spine, which would make it more vulnerable to injury.

A smoker's constant cough would also have an adverse effect on the back.

Smoking it seems is an independent risk factor for back pain and statistics show that 40% of smokers have more back pain than non-smokers.


It is a well-known fact that smoking can cause premature ageing and wrinkling of the skin. This is more pronounced around the eyes and mouth and is usually more noticeable in heavy smokers.

The colour of the skin is also affected. Smokers do not usually have a healthy glowing skin, but more of a greyish tone on the face and yellowish tar-stained fingers.

Toxins in the body from the tobacco smoke lead to the formation of cellulite and a reduced blood flow caused by smoking may impair flow to the skin.

Smoking also destroys collagen and elastin, which are needed to maintain a young-looking and healthy skin.

The contraceptive pill

Females who use the contraceptive pill as birth control should not smoke. This is of particular importance for female smokers who are over the age of 35. Using the pill has no mortality risks for non-smokers, however female smokers who use the contraceptive pill have a 50% increased risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease.


Female smokers are also at risk of developing osteoporosis, a decrease in a person's bone mass and density, which can increase the risk of bone fracture due to a weakened bone structure.

This is because estrogen, a hormone that increases bone density and mass, is inhibited by the effects of nicotine in tobacco smoke.

Smoking may also lead to an earlier menopause in females. Once a woman reaches menopause, the body starts to produce less estrogen and small holes start to form in the bones, making them brittle and weak and more likely to fracture.

Therefore, if a woman smokes and reaches menopause early, there is a much greater risk of developing osteoporosis.

Statistics show that female smokers have a 50% higher risk of developing osteoporosis that non-smokers and that by the time that they reach menopause they may have reduced their bone density by 5 - 10% more than non-smokers.

The immune system

Smoking has been found to damage and weaken the immune system and stop it from working as well. This means that a smoker is more prone to common infections such as colds and respiratory and urine infections.

It is quite clear that smoking has more than just a few negative effects on a person's body and health. The list of adverse effects is endless and the best thing that a smoker can do for the sake of his health and the health of those around him is to give up smoking as soon as possible.

Smoking can never be equated to a healthy body and lifestyle. It is associated with disease, death and a less enjoyable and limited lifestyle.

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