Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and causes far more diseases than once believed, including cataracts, pneumonia, leukaemia, and cancer of the kidneys, pancreas, stomach and cervix, the top US health official said Thursday.
"The 28th [US government] report on smoking and health documents that smoking causes disease in nearly every organ in the body, at every stage of life, here and around the world," said Surgeon General Richard Carmona. "Everyone knows how bad smoking is, but it's actually worse."
Besides the already-known increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease, other health problems smoking causes include abdominal aortic aneurysm, complications from diabetes, wound infections and reproductive problems, Carmona said at a news conference in Washington.
Everywhere the blood flows…
Forty years ago, when the surgeon general's office released its first report on smoking, it was found to be a definite cause to only three diseases: cancers of the lung and larynx in men and chronic bronchitis.
"Now we know that the toxins in cigarette smoke go everywhere the blood flows," Carmona said.
He added that while smoking is far more dangerous than first believed, quitting the habit has immediate positive effects on health.
"Within minutes and hours after smokers inhale that last cigarette, their bodies begin a series of changes that continue for years," the surgeon general said. "Among these health improvements are a drop in heart rate, improved circulation, and reduced risk of heart attack, lung cancer and stroke."
Millions die every year
Men who smoke live an average of 13,2 years less than non-smokers and women smokers live 14,5 fewer years, he said.
The report issued by his office also said 440 000 Americans die of smoking-related illnesses each year and the habit causes the United States 157 billion dollars each year - 75 billion for treatment and 82 billion for loss of production.
More than five million people die of smoking-related causes around the world every year. – (Sapa-DPA)
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