Cigarette smoking is the leading avoidable cause of death worldwide. Also, it raises a person’s risk of many common chronic diseases and conditions. For example.

  • Smokers are five times more likely to die from pneumonia
  • Smokers have a 48% increased colon cancer risk
  • Smokers have a 129% increased risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Smokers who are also hypertensive have an increased risk (19% to 33%) of dying from cardiovascular disease.
  • Smokers have an increased risk of developing all sorts of gastrointestinal conditions (i.e., peptic ulcer disease, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
  • Post-menopausal female smokers have a four-fold risk of developing osteoporosis in their hips as opposed to their non-smoking counterparts.
  • Active or former smokers are also at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

The worst part is that these dangers exist even if you don’t smoke. Second-hand smoke, also known as passive smoking also places one at risk. Public health researchers are even discussing third-hand smoke, the residual tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette is extinguished. Tobacco smoke, be it; first, second or third hand contains more than 7,000 chemicals including known carcinogens, toxic metals, and poisonous gases

Chemicals in Tobacco Smoke

Formaldehyde: Used to embalm dead bodies

Benzene: Found in gasoline

Polonium-210: Radioactive and very toxic

Vinyl Chloride: Used to make pipes

Toxic Metals in Tobacco Smoke

Chromium: Used to make steel

Arsenic: Used in Pesticides

Lead: Once used in paints

Cadmium: Used in making batteries

Poisonous Gases in Tobacco Smoke

Carbon monoxide: Found in car exhaust

Hydrogen Cyanide: Used in chemical weapons

Ammonia: Used in household cleaners

Butane: Used in lighter fluid

Toluene: Found in paint thinners


The epigenetic influence of cigarette smoking is also something to consider. Epigenetics is the field that studies the biological mechanisms that turn genes on and off.  Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and cardiovascular disease are linked to epigenetic changes due to tobacco smoke. Some researchers believe that one DNA mutation is introduced into the genome for every 15 cigarettes smoked. Imagine the potential for genetic mutation and damage in someone who has smoked a pack a day for 20 years.  In fact, such a patient inspired this blog entry.   A couple of months ago, a 68 yr old patient presented with shortness of breath and fatigue upon exertion.  A review of his medical history exposed that he had smoked a pack a day for 20 years.  As fate would have it, he was in the beginning stages of COPD more specifically emphysema. Unfortunately, like many smokers who develop COPD, he believed that the damage was done and that any attempt to quit was futile. However, this is not the case, smoking cessation benefits all smokers, regardless of their age or how long they have smoked.


Schedule a free 10-minute consultation with Dr. Boyce today to learn more about how he can formulate a personalized smoking cessation protocol for you!