Smoking Has Hidden Dangers

Health: Smoking and alzheimers alzheimer's disease
It is well known that smoking cigarettes can lead to lung cancer and heart disease. But what you may not know is that lighting up can also increase your risk of developing other illnesses including Lupus and Alzheimer's disease.

Medical correspondent Dr. Mallika Marshall explains on The Early Show some of these surprising hidden dangers with the hope that smokers will have more incentive to kick the habit.

Lupus - Lupus is as autoimmune disorder in which the body begins to attack it's own tissues. It can lead to inflammation, pain and organ damage. A recent study found that smokers had an increased risk of developing it. But once people quit, the risk returned to normal. Lupus isn't the only autoimmune disease that's been linked to smoking; Grave's disease and rheumatoid arthritis have as well.

Alzheimer's Disease - A recent study found that the rate of mental decline is five times faster in smokers than non-smokers. The theory is that smoking can lead to blood vessel damage, clotting and an increased risk of stroke. All of this can lead to the cognitive changes and speed up the onset of Alzheimer's.

Snoring - It's believed that smoking causes irritation and inflammation of the upper airways, which makes snoring more likely. The more you smoke, the more likely you are to snore. And it not only affects smokers but people who live with smokers. So second-hand smoke increases the risk as well.

Acid Reflux - Researchers found that people who smoked for 20 years or more were 70 percent more likely to have acid reflux than nonsmokers. Acid reflux or GERD as some people know it, typically causes a burning sensation in your chest and a sour, acid taste in the mouth. It's thought that smoking relaxes the valve between the stomach and the esophagus that keeps acid from backing up into the esophagus.

Impotence - Researchers in China found that men who smoked more than a pack a day were 60 percent more likely to have erectile dysfunction than men who never smoke. Smoking can lead to a build-up of plaque in all the arteries in the body, including the genitals, and can impair proper blood flow, which can lead to impotence.