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Dangers of Smoking Pipe Tobacco

By Nancy Polashuk ; Updated August 14, 2017

Many people have the misconception that smoking a pipe doesn't pose the same dangers as smoking cigarettes. However, the same harmful chemicals are present in both cigarette and pipe smoke, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking a pipe increases your risk for several types of cancer, heart disease, circulatory problems and lung disease.

Cancer Risk

Smoking pipe tobacco puts you at greater risk for cancers of the mouth, esophagus, lungs, throat and larynx, or voice box. Pipe smokers have an especially high risk of cancers of the oropharynx, the area between the back of the roof of your mouth and the top of your throat. Even if you don't inhale, you may develop cancer at any location that comes in contact with the smoke, including your lips and tongue. Pipe smoking also puts you at risk for cancers outside of the respiratory tract, including the stomach, bladder and pancreas.

Heart and Lung Disease

Pipe smoking contributes to an increased risk of heart and lung disease. Bronchitis and emphysema, two types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are associated with smoking tobacco. These diseases change the structure of your lung tissue and airways, making breathing more difficult.

Pipe smokers are at significantly increased risk for strokes and arterial disease from plaque buildup than are people who have never smoked. Smoking any form of tobacco can contribute to an aneurysm, where part of the wall of an artery weakens and swells. When this happens in the aorta, the largest artery in the body, a rupture may be fatal. Ischemic heart disease, which is characterized by decreased blood flow to your heart, occurs more frequently in tobacco smokers than in nonsmokers. The severity of this condition generally correlates with the amount you smoke.

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