The health effects of tobacco are the circumstances, mechanisms, and factors of tobacco consumption on human health. Epidemiological research have been focused primarily on tobacco smoking, which has been studied more extensively than any other form of consumption.
Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer (particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer).
The World Health Organization estimate that tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths in 2004 and 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century. Similarly, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco use as "the single most important preventable risk to human health in developed countries and an important cause of premature death worldwide."
Smoke contains several carcinogenic pyrolytic products that bind to DNA and cause many genetic mutations. There are over 19 known chemical carcinogens in cigarette smoke. In addition, tobacco and tobacco smoke contain 2 radioactive carcinogens. Tobacco also contains nicotine, which is a highly addictive psychoactive chemical. When tobacco is smoked, nicotine causes physical and psychological dependency. Tobacco use is a significant factor in miscarriages among pregnant smokers, it contributes to a number of other threats to the health of the fetus such as premature births and low birth weight and increases by 1,4 to 3 times the chance for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The result of scientific studies done in neonatal rats seems to indicate that exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb may reduce the fetal brain's ability to recognize hypoxic conditions, thus increasing the chance of accidental asphyxiation. Incidence of impotence is approximately 85 percent higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers, and it is a key cause of erectile dysfunction (ED).
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