What Effects Does Smoking Have on the Pancreas?

Most people know that smoking has a large negative impact on your lungs, but smoking also affects other organs, such as your pancreas. In fact, the effect of smoking on your pancreas may put you at risk for digestive disorders or cancer.


Smoking cigarettes causes your pancreas to produce less bicarbonate, a substance used to neutralize stomach acid in your digestive system. Additionally, the chemicals in cigarettes cause the DNA of cells in your pancreas to mutate slowly over time.


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If your body produces less bicarbonate, you are more likely to develop stomach or intestinal ulcers, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The genetic mutations caused by cigarettes have the potential to develop into pancreatic cancer, warns the American Cancer Society.


The more years and more frequently that you smoke increase the likelihood of pancreatic dysfunction or disease. For example, pancreatic cancer from smoking is most common in people who smoke two packs of cigarettes per day for more than 20 years, explains to the American Cancer Society.


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Cigarette smoking accounts for roughly one third of all pancreatic cancers, asserts the American Cancer Society.


Quitting smoking can stop the progression of pancreatic gene mutation and help prevent pancreatic cancer, reports the Mayo Clinic. Within 30 minutes after your last cigarette, your pancreas will also begin to return its bicarbonate production to normal, reports the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.