ZocdocAnswersHow does smoking ruin one's lungs?

Question

How does smoking ruin one's lungs?

How exactly does smoking hurt your lungs? Is it true that if you don't inhale very deeply then it does way less damage to you? This is what a friend of mine says when I try to convince him that it's serious, but he doesn't really listen. How long does it normally take to get cancer?

Answer

Smoking is harmful to your health no matter whether you inhale deeply, or even if you don't inhale at all. Smoking can cause cancer from the mouth, to the throat, all the way down into the lungs. Anyone that tells you that if you don't inhale deeply cigarette smoke does less damage to you needs their head examined. If your friend keeps smoking, he will be in for a very unpleasant surprise when he's older. Smoking can do damage to your lungs in many different ways. Smoking for many years can cause the lung tissue to change making the lungs worse at giving oxygen to the blood. We see patients all the time with emphysema and other lung diseases that prevent them from doing many of the things they use to enjoy. Cancer can develop because of smoking no matter how long you have smoked. Most people that develop lung cancer smoked for about 15 years or more, but cases of cancer in smokers for just 5 years is not unheard of. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss cigarette smoking and other dangerous habits and what their real life consequences really are. If you choose not to smoke, then you will be doing yourself a big favor. Good luck.

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