Is Smoking Compromising your Auto-immune Health?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Surgeon General Report, there are more than 16 million people in America who already have at least one disease from smoking. As researchwoman-stops-smoking continues to examine the negative side effects of smoking, which can include cancers and respiratory diseases, there is another aspect of your health it may be affecting- your autoimmune system.

Cigarette smoke contains several toxic ingredients including: tars, nicotine, carbon monoxide and other unnatural chemicals. These toxic ingredients are difficult to break down and eliminate both in the body, when inhaled, and in the environment, when exhaled. In addition, these same toxins weaken the immune system.  With 1 out of 5 adults and teenagers smoking, researchers are noticing increased cases of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which can be triggered by smoking.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting mostly women, but does not discriminate; men can also fall prey to this disease. The reason one is diagnosed with lupus is still unknown.  However, doctors believe it may be a combination of genetics or the environment. With lupus, the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the body which can make one more susceptible to infections.  Since respiratory infections are among the most common, smoking cigarettes can increase the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia and chronic bronchitis in people diagnosed with lupus.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) disease has no cure, only treated with medications and symptoms can vary from person to person, with the most common symptoms being long periods of joint pain and fatigue. Some people may have a genetic predisposition for RA, and smoking can increase the severity of its symptoms. Smoking can also interfere with the effectiveness of RA medication. Even if you are not genetically disposed to RA, chances are smoking can make you vulnerable to it- a good reason to quit smoking.

Don’t be among the 16 million. Choosing to make a lifestyle change can be difficult; Jamaica Hospital can help. If you are interested in creating a plan or participating in a smoking cessation group, please contact 718-206-8494.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.