The Effects Smoking Has on the Digestive System

Smoking affects the entire body, increasing the risk of many life-threatening diseases—including lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. What some might not realize however is the strong effect smoking has on the digestive system.

Smoking increases the chances of developing many types of cancers of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach and pancreas. Research has also suggested that smoking can contribute to liver, colon, and rectal cancers.

In addition, smoking can be a factor in the development or progression of many common disorders of the digestive system, such as heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When you smoke, it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to weaken. This muscle between the esophagus and stomach keeps stomach contents, such as acids intended to break down foods, from flowing back into the esophagus. When the lower esophageal sphincter weakens, stomach contents may reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn and possibly damaging the lining of the esophagus.

Another harmful effect smoking can have on the digestive system is it increases the risk of developing peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are sores on the inside lining of the stomach or duodenum, most commonly caused by an infection resulting from the development of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of H. pylori infection, slows the healing of peptic ulcers, and increases the likelihood that peptic ulcers will recur

The good news is that quitting smoking can improve the symptoms of some digestive diseases or keep them from getting worse.  If you are looking to quit smoking, but need help, Jamaica Hospital offers the Freedom From Smoking program. For more information or to enroll in our smoking cessation program, please call 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.