Smoking weakens the immune system by depressing antibodies and cells that are in the body to protect against foreign invaders 23. There is an association between smoking and the increased incidence of certain malignant diseases and respiratory infections, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) 3. There is also a significant decrease in immune cells that normally help the body. But this process can be reversed if a smoker gives up cigarettes. Smokers who stop show increased levels of natural killer cell (NK) activity that targets cancerous cells in the body.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Cigarette Allergies and a Swelling Neck
Many cancer-causing chemicals from cigarette smoke travel throughout a smoker’s bloodstream to reach the organs of the body and damage the immune response 2. Carbon monoxide is carried through the body by smoke, interfering with oxygen levels. Less oxygen reaches the brain, heart, muscles and other organs. Lung function is reduced because of the narrowing of the lung airways and excess mucus in the lungs. Lung irritation and damage result from invading substances, leading to lung infection. Blood pressure and heart rate are affected negatively by smoking chemicals carried through the blood 3. The immune system does not work as well and smokers become more prone to infections, such as pneumonia and influenza. It takes smokers longer than nonsmokers to get over illnesses.
Smoking can cause the body’s immune system to attack lung tissue and result in severe respiratory disorders, according to research at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio 23. Health scientists examined mice to study the link between cigarette exposure, the immune system and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), a serious lung disease characterized by emphysema and severe inflammation of the lung tissue 2. After lung cells were damaged from cigarette smoke in the lab research, the cells signaled the immune system when the damaged cells needed to be destroyed 2. The research shows that smoking actually activates certain parts of the immune system, which works against the lungs and attacks the tissue, it was reported in the March 2009 issue of the "Journal of Clinical Investigation." The researchers found a strong correlation between cellular stress signals, activation of the immune system and development of diseases similar to COPD 23.
Researchers compared the results with tissue samples from humans who included nonsmokers, smokers with COPD and smokers who did not have COPD. They found that patients who had never smoked had no trace of the lung cells that triggered the immune system to attack lung tissue. Current and former smokers who developed the disease had evidence of those lung signals.
- Smoking can cause the body’s immune system to attack lung tissue and result in severe respiratory disorders, according to research at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio 2.
- They found that patients who had never smoked had no trace of the lung cells that triggered the immune system to attack lung tissue.
Cigarette Allergies and a Swelling Neck
Smoking & Shortness of Breath
The Effects of Tar in Smoking
Will My Heart & Lungs Heal Themselves If I Quit Smoking?
Ways to Fix Your Lungs After Smoking
The Effects of Cigarette Smoking in Cells
The Effects of Nicotine on the Cardiovascular System
What Can Smoking Do to Your Circulatory System?
Tobacco's Effect on the Excretory System of the Human Body
What are the Effects of Smoking on the Cardiovascular System?
- Health News on the body’s defenses worsening chronic lung diseases in smokers
- Effects of cigarette smoking on the immune system
- Smoking and effects on the body
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- American College of Cardiology. Smoking Significantly Increases Risk for Peripheral Artery Disease in Women. 2011.
- Xue J, Yang S, Seng S. Mechanisms of Cancer Induction by Tobacco-Specific NNK and NNN. Cancers (Basel). 2014;6(2):1138-1156. doi:10.3390/cancers6021138
- American Lung Association. What Causes COPD. Updated July 11, 2019.
- American Lung Association. How Serious Is COPD. Updated December 9, 2019.
- Oboni JB, Marques-Vidal P, Bastardot F, Vollenweider P, Waeber G. Impact of smoking on fertility and age of menopause: a population-based assessment. BMJ Open. 2016;6(11):e012015. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012015
- Berlin I, Golmard JL, Jacob N, Tanguy ML, Heishman SJ. Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy: Do Complete Abstinence and Low Level Cigarette Smoking Have Similar Impact on Birth Weight? Nicotine Tob Res. 2017;19(5):518-524. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntx033
- Shah RS, Cole JW. Smoking and stroke: the more you smoke the more you stroke. Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2010;8(7):917-932. doi:10.1586/erc.10.56
- American Lung Association. Preventing COPD. Updated March 13, 2018.
- Aune D, Schlesinger S, Norat T, Riboli E. Tobacco smoking and the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):14786. Published 2018 Oct 3. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-32100-2
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease and Stroke.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking During Pregnancy. Updated July 24, 2019.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Smoking & Tobacco Use. Updated January 10, 2012.
- National Cancer Institute. Tobacco. Updated January 23, 2017.
Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.