KEEP YOUR LUNG HEALTH IN CHECK: Make every breath count.

Diseases and Conditions Caused by Smoking

  • Lung Cancer
  • COPD
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Asthma
  • Reproductive Issues in Women
  • Premature and Low-weight babies
  • Diabetes
  • Blindness
  • Other Cancers

Most of us take breathing for granted. We shouldn't.

If you have unhealthy habits which can affect your lungs, such as smoking, are exposed to secondary smoke, or have a chronic health condition like pneumonia, COPD, emphysema, bronchitis or asthma, read on.  


Here are some statistics of interest and concern.

Tobacco Use

  • Smoking is estimated to cause 33% of cancer, 80% of COPD, 20% of ischemic heart disease and 10% of strokes.
  • Tobacco use is the cause of almost 15% of all deaths in Maryland.
  • Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking.
  • According to a 2013 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, quitting before the age of 40 reduces your chance of dying prematurely from a smoking-related disease by 90 percent, and quitting by age 54 still reduces your chance by two-thirds.
  • Smokers who quit after being diagnosed with cancer can respond to treatment, reducing the chance of death from some cancers by up to 40 percent.
  • Smoking is a known cause of erectile dysfunction.

Signs of Lung Cancer

Although there may be no symptoms, some of the more common ones may include:

  • Recurring infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Coughing, persistent in nature, that may not subside.
  • Coughing up blood, or rust-colored spit or phlegm
  • Breathing difficulties, such as shortness of breath, wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reproductive Issues in Women
  • Weakness or excessive fatigue

Lung Cancer

  • Your lifetime chances of developing cancer of the Lung/Brochus is 1 in 14 for men and 1 in 17 for women, making it the second most common type of cancer?
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer).
  • Tobacco use is the cause of almost 15% of all deaths in Maryland.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the U.S.
  • On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • COPD is usually caused by smoking and is the fourth leading cause of death.
  • Smoking accounts for as many as 8 out of 10 COPD-related deaths.However, as many as 1 out of 4 Americans with COPD never smoked cigarettes.
  • COPD is often preventable and treatable.
  • About ¾ of people with long smoking histories do not develop COPD.
  • COPD may occur in non-smokers as the result of genetics, toxic fumes and under-treated asthma.


  • Pneumonia can lead to mild or severe illnesses in people of any age.
  • Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can cause pneumonia.
  • In the U.S., common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Pneumonia can also result from being on a ventilator, which is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
  • You are more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

Are You Concerned about your Lung Health?

If recommended by your primary care provider:

  • Hands spread an estimated 80 percent of common infectious respiratory diseases like colds and flu.
  • Early detection of respiratory diseases might change disease course and progress.
  • A simple test, called spirometry can be used to measure pulmonary—or lung—function and detect COPD in anyone with breathing problems.

How can I improve my lung health?

Healthy lungs are obviously critical to living a long life.  Here are some tips to keep your lungs in shape.
  • If you smoke, take steps to quit or cut back.
  • If you are at high risk for a chronic lung condition or lung disease, talk to your physician about getting your lungs screened.
  • Do what you can to prevent infection and pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma attacks.
  • Get regular healthcare.
  • Exercise. Inactivity can have a detrimental effect on both your lungs and your heart.
  • Wash your hands and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly to prevent respiratory infections.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eliminate household toxins/ improve indoor air.

UM SJMC Thoracic (Lung) Surgeon, Shelby Stewart, believes knowledge is power when treating patients. Hear more.

The more exercise you do, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles supplied with oxygen.