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New Surgeon General’s Report On
Exposure To Tobacco Smoke
December 12, 2010
- Exposure to tobacco smoke even occasional smoking or secondhand smoke
causes immediate damage to your body that can lead to serious illness or
death, according to a report released today by U.S. Surgeon General
Regina M. Benjamin.
scientific report - Benjamin’s first Surgeon General’s report and the
30th tobacco-related Surgeon General’s report issued since 1964 -
describes specific pathways by which tobacco smoke damages the human
body and leads to disease and death.
The report, How
Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for
Smoking-Attributable Disease, finds that cellular damage and tissue
inflammation from tobacco smoke are immediate, and that repeated
exposure weakens the body’s ability to heal the damage.
“The chemicals in
tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale causing
damage immediately,” Benjamin said in releasing the report.
“Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also
damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer.”
"Over the last two
years we have stepped up efforts to reduce tobacco use, including
implementing legislation to regulate tobacco products, investing in
local tobacco control efforts and expanding access to insurance coverage
for tobacco cessation" said Secretary of Health and Human Services
Kathleen Sebelius. "This will remain a key priority of this
The report also
explains why it is so difficult to quit smoking. According to the
research, cigarettes are designed for addiction. The design and contents
of current tobacco products make them more attractive and addictive than
ever before. Today’s cigarettes deliver nicotine more quickly and
efficiently than cigarettes of many years ago.
Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, of which hundreds are toxic and at least 70 cause cancer. Every exposure to these cancer-causing chemicals could damage DNA in a way that leads to cancer.
Exposure to smoke
also decreases the benefits of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.
Smoking causes more than 85% of lung cancers and can cause cancer almost
anywhere in the body. One in three cancer deaths in the
exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and could
trigger acute cardiac events, such as heart attack. The report describes
how chemicals from tobacco smoke quickly damage blood vessels and make
blood more likely to clot. The evidence in this report shows how smoking
causes cardiovascular disease and increases risks for heart attack,
stroke, and aortic aneurysm.
Smoking causes many other harmful effects throughout the body, including making it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Smoking makes it harder for women to get pregnant and can cause a miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birth weight, as well as damage to fetal lungs and brain tissue. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome, the report finds.
report makes it clear – quitting at any time gives your body
a chance to heal the damage caused by smoking,” the Surgeon
General said. “It’s never too late to quit, but the sooner
you do it, the better.”
To help communicate the report findings as widely as possible, the Surgeon General unveiled an easy-to-read guide with practical information about how tobacco smoke causes disease, A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You.
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