Another U.S. Surgeon General issued a report on the dangers and harm of smoking and secondhand smoke, but this one may be the most powerful ever.
New U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin issued “A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease - The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease” on Thursday, and the report is the first tobacco report from Benjamin and the 30th since the landmark 1964 Surgeon General's report that first linked smoking to lung cancer. It confirmed what many other peer revived studies have shown, and the report said as little as one cigarette a day, or even just inhaling smoke from someone else's cigarette, could be enough to cause a heart attack and even death.
"The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale, causing damage immediately," Benjamin said in a story in U.S. News & World Report. "Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer."
The report found that the more you're exposed to deadly cigarette smoke, the harder it is for your body to repair the damage. Smoking also weakens the immune system and makes it harder for the body to respond to treatment if a smoking-linked cancer does arise.
Some 70 of the 7,000 chemicals and compounds in cigarettes can cause cancer, while hundreds of the others are toxic, inflaming the lining of the airways and potentially leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major killer in the United States. The chemicals also corrode blood vessels and increase the likelihood of blood clots, upping the risk for heart conditions.
We already know smoking is responsible for about 85 percent of lung cancers in the United States, but this report puts more emphasis on the link between smoking and the nation's no. 1 killer, heart disease.
As other studies and research have shown, the health problems caused by smoking and secondhand smoke don't stop at cancer and heart disease. Smoking cigarettes can interfere with blood-sugar control for diabetes and can help spur a range of pregnancy and birth-related problems such as miscarriage, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
With all the proof stacking up, tobacco companies are fighting back. The report found that cigarettes are also getting more addictive with newer formulations getting the nicotine more quickly and efficiently from the lungs -- where it first enters the body -- to the heart and brain. Compounds other than nicotine that are added to cigarettes also help hook people in, the report said.