Tobacco smoke has more than 7,000 toxic chemicals, including arsenic, radioactive polonium-20 and mercury.
Direct exposure to carcinogens, which are substances that cause cancer, greatly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer. While there are many different carcinogens in the environment, cigarettes expose smokers and those around them to a wide variety of carcinogens that can cause severe illness.
Tobacco smoke has more than 7,000 toxic chemicals, including arsenic, radioactive polonium-20 and mercury. The American Cancer Society indicates smoking causes about 20 percent of all cancers and roughly 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancers are the most notable of all cancers attributed to tobacco use — with 80 percent of such cancers traced back to smoking. But smoking is linked to other cancers as well.
The U.S. Surgeon General has identified smoking as a cause of 12 cancers, including:
• lung, trachea and bronchus
• myeloid leukemia
• kidney and ureter
• uterine cervix
It is important to note that cancer can come from using smokeless tobacco products as well. These include chewing tobacco and dip. Furthermore, exposure to someone else’s cigarette smoke can cause cancer in a person who doesn’t smoke. WebMD says bystanders exposed to secondhand smoke are up to 30 percent more likely to get lung cancer than others who are not exposed.
Tobacco can cause cancer in two ways. The first is that carcinogens damage DNA and cause cells to grow and divide abnormally. The other happens when toxins from smoking weaken the body’s immune system, which may make it harder for the body to fight off illnesses like cancer.
The National Cancer Society warns there is no safe level of tobacco use. Anyone using tobacco should aim to quit immediately
Smoking is a dangerous habit that is a leading risk factor in cancer formation. Getting the facts may inspire more people to quit using tobacco for good.
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