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Cancer Health Center

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Cigarette Smoking: Health Risks and How to Quit (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Tobacco Use

Smoking is the leading cause of cancer in the United States.

Smoking increases the risk of many types of cancer. These include:

Recommended Related to Cancer

What is prevention?

Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by cancer. To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk factors and protective factors. Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective...

Read the What is prevention? article > >

A smoker's risk of cancer can be 2 to 10 times higher than it is for a person who never smoked. This depends on how much and how long the person smoked.

In 2011, about 22% of adult men and about 16% of adult women were smokers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. In the last 30 years, the total number of smokers has decreased, especially among men. Since the 1980s, deaths caused by lung cancer in men have been decreasing.

Smoking causes many other health problems.

Smoking is linked with many diseases besides cancer. These include:

Other health problems that may be linked to smoking are:

  • Cataracts.
  • Bone disease.
  • Trouble becoming pregnant.

Smoking during pregnancy may cause problems such as slow growth of the fetus and low birth weight.

Being exposed to secondhand smoke increases the risk of cancer and other diseases.

Smoking can also affect the health of nonsmokers. Smoke that comes from the burning of a tobacco product or smoke that is exhaled by smokers is called secondhand smoke. Inhaling secondhand smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking.

The same cancer-causing chemicals inhaled by tobacco smokers are inhaled in lower amounts by people exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of lung cancer and coronary heart disease. Children exposed to tobacco smoke have higher risks of the following:

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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