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Tobacco and Cancer: How Does Smoking Put You At Risk?

Smoking tobacco is incredibly dangerous for your health: the American Cancer Society says that every year, about 1 in 5 deaths in the United States are due to smoking cigarettes. Put numerically, this adds up to over 480,000 individuals. Men who smoke typically die 12 years earlier than those who don’t, and women who smoke typically die 11 years sooner. And smoking kills more Americans than car accidents, gun violence, HIV, alcohol, and illicit drugs put together. It should come as no surprise that smoking does more than cause cancer: it also has the power to damage practically every organ in your body, such as your blood vessels, bones, eyes, skin, mouth, lungs, heart, and even reproductive organs.

What is the link between smoking and cancer? According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), smoking is responsible for approximately 30% of all cancer-related mortalities; included in this figure is 80% of all lung cancer deaths. What’s worse is lung cancer is among the most difficult types of cancers to treat, and is the most lethal cancer in men and women alike. But smoking doesn’t just damage your lungs and raise your risk of lung cancer. It can also cause cancer in your stomach, pancreas, liver, cervix, kidney, esophagus, mouth, pharynx, larynx, colon and rectum, as well as your blood. To put it bluntly, there’s no safe way to consume tobacco whatsoever.

The ACS explains that smoke causes damage any time it comes into contact with living cells. This means that even second-hand smoke is dangerous, and smokers who “don’t inhale” are also still putting themselves–and those around them–at risk. Smoke damages not only your airways, but also the tiny air sacs found in your lungs; for smokers, damage begins to manifest early and worsens over time. However, it can take years before any type of lung disease is diagnosable.

It should come as no surprise, then, that smoking while receiving treatment for prostate cancer can increase the likelihood of your cancer to metastasize or even be lethal. The solution is simple: don’t smoke, and if you do, quit as soon as possible. It could mean life or death.