Cigarette smoking is the chief cause of preventable death in the United States. While the number of cigarette smokers is dropping world-wide, there are still one million new smokers lighting up each year in the U.S. alone.
While most smokers are well aware of the more common reasons to stop, it may be harder than ever to quit. But the reasons to break the habit just keep piling up. Here are a few more downsides to lighting up you might not have known about.
1. It hurts your bones.
Smoking weakens bone density in postmenopausal women, according to a 2004 Surgeon General’s Report. Those who smoke may also experience slower healing from broken bones and wounded tissues, than nonsmokers.
2. It may affect your zzz’s.
A study in Chest found that smokers are four times more likely to get nonrestorative sleep than those who don’t smoke. The researchers suggest nicotine is most likely the cause.
3. It fogs your mind.
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who smoked in middle age had memory problems and a slide in reasoning abilities, though these risks appeared to be less for those who quit smoking. The same goes for elderly smokers. A 2007 analysis of 19 prior studies concluded that elderly smokers had an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline, compared with lifelong nonsmokers.
4. It increases chances of infections.
Because of the strong data showing that the risk of infection by pneumonia-causing bacteria is substantially greater for smokers than for nonsmokers, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made its recommendation in 2007 that all smokers ages 19 to 64 be added to a short list of candidates for the pneumococcal vaccine.
5. It may affect your sex life.
Smokers are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than nonsmokers. Plus the risk increases as the number of cigarettes smoked increases. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2007 studied 7,500 Chinese men. The researchers found that that smoking could independently increase a man’s chance of dealing with sexual dysfunction.
6. It increases facial wrinkles.
Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outer layers of your skin. This affects blood flow to your skin, depleting it of oxygen and important nutrients, such as vitamin A. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely.
Plus, repeated exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes and the facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — may contribute to wrinkles.
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