Although it may be hard to believe, the surgeon general released a new report which found that smoking and second hand smoke are much worse than we thought. The report, which was published 50 years after the first surgeon general report on smoking, shed some light on new ways smoking harms people. COPD, lung cancer, heart attack, and stroke are just four major health conditions that can be caused by smoking. 50 years after the original surgeon general report and there are more diseases and health conditions to add to that list.
The report, released January 17th, 2014, concluded smoking is "casually linked" to diabetes, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, and macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a major cause of age-related blindness. Along with the new found links to the diseases and conditions listed above, smoking causes inflammation, impairs immune function, and increases the risk of death from tuberculosis. Smoking also harms pregnant women and their fetuses. Smoking while pregnant can cause cleft lips and palates and can be a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
In the youth, it is believed that at the current rate, nearly 5.6 million Americans (younger than 18) will die prematurely due to smoking. Though rates are down from 1964, nearly 3 million middle school and high school students still smoke.
The report also focused on secondhand smoke. It was already well known that secondhand smoke is linked to cancer and heart attacks. The latest report from the surgeon general concludes that secondhand smoke is not only linked to cancer and heart attacks, but it is now known to cause strokes. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to children. Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause asthma, increase the risk of SIDS, increase the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, and increase the risk of middle ear infections in children. With the latest report exposing links to different disease and conditions, it is best to quit smoking now. There have been 31 previous surgeon general reports on smoking, and we continue to find new ways smoking harms and kills us. The latest report increases the annual death toll from smoking by an estimated 37,000 additional lives lost.
Though those who smoke are smoking less cigarettes compared to 50 years ago, but are still at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. It is believed that this is because cigarette designs have changed, and the filters allow individuals to inhale more vigorously. Cigarettes also contain higher levels of 70 different chemicals, as manufacturing processes have changed.
The American Lung Association and other groups suggest the US should aim to have adult smoking rates lower than 10% in the next 10 years. If you are a smoker, make it your goal to help cut that statistic. With more and more harmful diseases and conditions being linked to smoking, it is scary to think of what smoking may cause next. As David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, said "As we've said for some time, there is no safe cigarette." Click here to see the full article from 9News.