Tobacco's Effect on the Excretory System of the Human Body

icigarette image by Yves Damin from

Cigarettes contain toxins that must be dealt with by the body. There is an ample amount of evidence to show the negative effects of smoking. While emphasis is often placed on lung cancer, however, smoking may have other negative effects on the human excretory system.

Excretory System

The human excretory system is comprised of the lungs, skin, liver and kidneys. These organs are responsible for the removal of toxins and waste from the body. The digestive system also works with excretory system to remove waste through processes like defecation or elimination.

Tobacco Toxins

Cigarette smoke has roughly 4,000 compounds, many of which are toxic and can cause cell damage. Some compounds are cancer-causing or carcinogenic. The three main ingredients of cigarette smoke are nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. Cigarette smoke contains other dangerous ingredients including acetone, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, cadmium and formaldehyde.

Kidney Damage and Kidney Stones

Smoking can cause high blood pressure by constricting blood vessels. The effects of high blood pressure may cause kidney damage.

The build up of toxins in urine can cause crystals to form. If these crystals remain in the kidneys and are not eliminated through urine, they may attract other elements to form small hard objects known as stones. Passing a kidney stone can be a very painful experience and may require surgery, depending on the size of the stone.

Liver Disease

The liver is another one of the body's organs charged with processing toxins and discharging them from the body. Cigarette smoke and the corresponding toxins may reduce the liver's efficiency to detoxify chemicals. Also, smoking may make the liver susceptible to dangerous effects of drugs like acetaminophen.

Skin Cancer

Research has found that tobacco smokers are more than three times as likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Higher rates of smoking have also been linked to higher rates of skin cancer.

Lung Cancer

The lungs work to eliminate carbon dioxide and other toxins from the body. Tobacco's carcinogens, when inhaled, gather inside the lungs. Over time, these chemicals can develop into tumors inside the lungs. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer.

Digestive System

The excretory system works with the digestive system to remove toxins. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, smoking has been linked to digestive-system maladies such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gastric and duodenal ulcers, heartburn, gall stones, peptic ulcers and diverticulitis.