smoking-cigarettesIn recent years a number of cigarette smokers have managed to quit, greatly lowering their chance of developing serious health problems. Scientific research has for decades suggested that long term cigarette use can be deadly, which has led to a significant reduction of smoking rates in America. Sadly, there are still millions of Americans who continue to smoke, many of whom are living with potentially fatal medical conditions.

New research has found that U.S. adults have had about 14 million major medical conditions linked to smoking cigarettes, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adults suffering from smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) make up more than half of all smoking related medical conditions, HealthDay reports.

“For each annual death, there are 15 to 20 people living with major disease caused by smoking,” said senior study author Terry Pechacek of the CDC. “Smoking not only will kill you, it will damage your health and make your life worse.”

The findings show that cigarettes can be linked to:

  • 1.2 million cases of stroke.
  • 1.3 million cases of cancer.
  • 1.8 million cases of diabetes.
  • 2.3 million cases of heart attack.
  • 7.5 million cases of COPD.

Most people who smoke do not realize the links between cigarettes and diabetes, Pechacek points out.

“We’ve known for quite a while that smoking makes diabetes outcomes worse, and diabetics who smoke are really placing themselves at great risk,” Pechacek said. “But if people smoke who have a tendency toward diabetes, are pre-diabetic, they are at a much higher risk of progressing to full diabetes. Smoking causes diabetes and makes it much worse. People are not aware of that.”

While the CDC’s findings are in fact alarming, the numbers would certainly be higher if the smoking rate hadn’t diminished in recent years, Pechacek says.

“Millions and millions more people would have suffered and died, or still be suffering with disease, if we hadn’t cut the smoking rate,” he said. “The message is clear. Quit, quit as early in life as possible, and don’t be afraid to talk to your friends and family who are still smoking.”

The findings are published in JAMA Internal Medicine.