Smoking Related To Even More Diseases, New Study Says

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The dangers of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking have been drummed into our heads, and now there is even more evidence that it is worse for us than we had envisioned previously. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine, just released on Feb. 12, describes more illnesses that have connections to smoking. Besides the commonly-known diseases such as stroke, heart ailments, mouth cancer, and emphysema, there are now more hazards being linked to the addictive habit.

NEJM’s?recent study shows five more diseases can be attributed to smoking, and that 60,000 more deaths each year can also be blamed on the bad habit. A 10-year study by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and several universities tracked data and found links to increased risks of infection, additional heart and lung ailments, kidney and intestinal diseases.

For instance:

  • Intestinal disease appears to be linked to inadequate blood flow that results from smoking,
  • Smoking can weaken a person’s immune system, thus raising the risk of certain infections, and
  • There is also overlap of these various conditions.

These are in addition to the better-known, already-established connections to lung cancer, stroke, and chronic lung and artery diseases, among others.

For all the public service messages disseminated throughout the media, there are still people who continue to smoke and who take up the bad practice. Healthcare practitioners, educators, public policy officials, and many other workers attempt to get people to quit smoking and avoid starting, and this new information makes the task more crucial.

It’s estimated that about 42 million Americans smoke. The healthcare costs of smoking are still a large burden on society and hence on government, and at all levels. The study doesn’t show?that smoking is necessarily causal to all of them, but still has an association with a myriad of health woes.

Some people scoff at this study, suggesting that it does not really cover any new ground. Comments posted online, in reference to a New York Times article and an NPR report, have even taken aim at obesit instead of admitting to the menaces of smoking. There are people who deflect the criticism of smoking on health and point fingers at other societal ills.

But many people writing?in stated that they are smokers who wish they had never started; collectively, they are a strong voice against smoking. One woman who blames her emphysema on years of smoking asks, “Why? Is it all about denial? Addiction? Delusion? Depression? Looking ‘cool’?” We all wish this could be answered, and then conquered.

The?World Health Organization?organizes a “World No Tobacco Day” on?May 31 every year. Smoking is a problem all around the world. The costs of buying smokes, treating the attendant diseases, and the effects upon the workplace of those who take sick could be estimated. And the price tag would be frightful.

I am a non-smoker who tried it a few times as a junior high school student, just to experience how disgusting it is. My mother smoked for 20 years and quit, but I am quite sure that this awful habit contributed to various health problems she endured. Would she have lived beyond 71 if she had never smoked? Quite likely. And an old friend of mine, Shari, told me that, “My mom did, too, and I also believe it took off years of her life.”

If you don’t smoke, please don’t start. If you do smoke, please quit.

Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu. She is a lifelong New Yorker, a veteran public school teacher, writer and photographer. Bird lover as well.