How Smoking Damages Your Body, Step By Step

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
With Lung Cancer Awareness month right around the corner (and smoking as the leading cause of this deadly disease), this latest video from Discovery News is certainly timely. But how, exactly, does smoking cause cancer and other health problems — and, eventually, kill you? Why is it so damn dangerous?
Host Julia Wilde compares smoking regularly to a kind of vicious cycle, or a feedback loop — cigarette smoke kills the hairs that line the airways to your lungs, making it easier for more smoke, later on, to reach your lungs, damage them, and lay the groundwork for subsequent tumors. She adds that this smoke contains probably more sketchy substances than you think. Compounds also found in burning oil and gas number among the 60 cancer-causing particles in cigarette smoke. Once the smoke is in your lungs, it can inflame their most vulnerable areas, prevent your DNA from replicating properly (thus leading to mutations), and even lead to heart disease, since it triggers an overproduction of fatty acids, which eventually kill your blood vessels. Wilde breaks down this startlingly rapid chain reaction for us: It starts with a drag of a cigarette, and it can end with emphysema or — yep — cancer. Although rates of smoking among American adults hit an all-time low last year, it remains the number-one cause of preventable disease and death in the country, with more than 16 million Americans currently living with a smoking-related illness. Check out the full video below.

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