Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 21, 2022
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Pain and inflammation in your joints? Smokers are more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And RA medications don't work as well on people who smoke. Scientists aren’t sure why.

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You can expect wrinkles, sooner. Smoking speeds up your skin’s aging process. It can make the skin of a 40-year-old look like that of a nonsmoking 70-year-old. This damage can't be undone and can make many skin diseases, including skin cancer, worse.

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Lighting up makes you twice as likely to get macular degeneration, an eye condition that destroys the central vision you need to read, write, and see other people’s faces. You’re also three times as likely to develop cataracts, which cause blurry vision.

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Sex Organs

It's true: Male smokers are more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED). And the more you smoke, the worse it can get. Men who smoke are also more likely to get testicular cancer. And female smokers are more likely to get cervical cancer.

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Tender, bleeding gums; painful chewing; bad breath: Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. If you smoke, you’re twice as likely to have it, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk.

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If you smoke, you’re more than 3 times as likely to have a stroke -- a blood clot in the brain that can cause  any number of problems, including facial paralysis, blurred vision, trouble walking, and sometimes death. You’re also more likely to have high blood pressure, which can lead to a cerebral aneurysm. This is when the wall of a blood vessel in your brain balloons out. It can leak or burst and spill blood into the nearby tissue.

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Digestive System

Peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, colon polyps, pancreatitis (inflammation in your pancreas), and cancer of the pancreas are some of the illnesses related to digestion you’re more likely to get if you smoke. You’re also 35% more likely to get type 2 diabetes, which affects your liver and pancreas.

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Lung cancer -- linked to smoking 90% of the time -- is the top cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. in men and women alike. Smoking also makes a lot of other cancers more likely, including cancers of the mouth, kidney, liver, bladder, pancreas, stomach, colon, and rectum. And it’s a major cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a group of diseases that damage the tiny air sacs in the lungs.

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Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, which more people in the U.S. die of than all cancers combined. It hardens and narrows your arteries, and it causes your blood to thicken and clot, which could cause a heart attack.

Show Sources


1) BSIP /UIG / Getty Images

2) VICTOR DE SCHWANBERG / Getty Images, Nucleus Medical Art, Inc. / Alamy

3) Chuck Savage / Getty Images

4) Jupiterimages / Thinkstock

5) vitapix / Thinkstock

6) CNRI / Science Source

7) rudisill / Getty Images

8) Sebastian Kaulitzki / Getty Images

9) Jochen Tack


American Association for Cancer Research: “Cigarette Smoking and Testicular Cancer.”

CDC: “The New Smoking Story: Going Blind,” “Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss,” “Smoking and COPD,” “Smoking and Diabetes,” “Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease.”

European Federation of Periodontology: “What is Periodontitis?”

Mayo Clinic: “Smoking and rheumatoid arthritis: What's the risk?”

National Stroke Association: “Signs and Symptoms of Stroke.”

Stroke Association: “Smoking and the risk of stroke.”

National Institutes of Health: “Do cigarette smokers with erectile dysfunction benefit from stopping?” “Smoking and Cervical Cancer.”

American Cancer Society: “Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco.”