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Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and cancer deaths in the United States. It increases the risk of many types of cancer, including:

  • Lung cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Nasal cavity cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Acute myeloid leukemia

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

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:

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Asthma
  • Ear infections
  • Respiratory infections

The risk of most health problems from smoking, including cancer and heart and lung disease, can be lowered by stopping smoking. People of all ages can improve their health if they quit smoking. Quitting at a younger age will improve a person's health even more. People who quit smoking cut their risk of lung cancer by 30 percent to 50 percent after 10 years compared to people who keep smoking, and they cut their risk of cancer of the mouth or esophagus in half within five years after quitting.

The damage caused by smoking is even worse for people who have had cancer. They have an increased risk of cancer recurrence, new cancers and long-term side effects from cancer treatment.

For more information about quitting smoking, visit the following pages on the Siteman Cancer Center website:

Click here to read about a lung cancer survivor who now spreads a smoking-cessasion message.

Information for this webpage comes from the National Cancer Institute’s PDQ database.

Download the National Cancer Institute's QuitPal mobile app from iTunes.

The American Cancer Society also provides numerous resourses including a guide to quitting smoking, cigarette cost calculator and more.