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Beyond Lung Cancer: Other Diseases Linked to Smoking

Health think tank Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) reported that in the Philippines alone, annual deaths due to tobacco-related diseases reach over 100,000. In Southeast Asia, more than 500,000 die due to tobacco-related diseases, while globally, annual deaths reach close to seven million.1

When it comes to diseases, cancer is not the only type associated with smoking. Here is a list of other diseases caused by smoking and second-hand smoke, apart from lung cancer:

  1. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    People diagnosed with COPD suffer from an obstructive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD starts with evident fatigue and shortness of breath.2 A person with COPD will find it hard to be active. Simple activities like climbing a short set of stairs or even walking to get the mail to seem exhausting and nearly impossible to do.
  2. Heart disease
    Excessive smoking leaves harmful components in your body. These can cause blockages and narrowing in your arteries, which leads to less blood and oxygen that flow to the heart.
  3. Stroke
    Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily blocked. Smoking can trigger stroke when it affects the arteries leading to the brain – causing paralysis, slurred speech, disrupted brain function, and death.3
  4. Asthma
    A person with asthma has a chronic lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Since smoke irritates air passages, it can trigger a sudden and fatal asthma attack. Non-smokers can acquire asthma. Exposure to second-hand smoke makes it worse.
  5. Premature, Low birth-weight babies
    Not only pregnant women are affected by smoking. The baby also suffers. Smoking during pregnancy may cause babies to be born prematurely and/or with a low birth-weight. Babies born too early or too small have more health risks.3
  6. Diabetes
    According to medical research, a person who smokes has a higher probability of acquiring type 2 diabetes compared with non-smokers. A smoker diagnosed with diabetes has an increased risk of health complications like heart and kidney disease, poor blood flow to legs and feet, blindness and nerve damage.
  7. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
    The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It has been shown that the risk for an aortic aneurysm increases even more in smokers. The more you smoke, the more likely you’ll acquire aortic aneurysm as well as rupture.

Lung Cancer in the Philippines

In the Philippines, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and is the third for women. The Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) recorded 17,255 cases of lung cancer and 15,454 deaths due to the disease in 2018.

Due to this alarming increase of lung cancer in the country, you might ask yourself ‘how do I know if I have lung cancer?’.  To help you, here are symptoms that you should look out for.

Lung Cancer Symptoms:

According to Mayo Clinic, lung cancer typically doesn’t manifest signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur when the disease has advanced.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A new cough that doesn’t go away
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

Check for these symptoms, but also remember that every medical case is unique, and it is important for you to visit your doctor.

Quit Smoking While You Can

There’s no doubt that smoking has adverse effects on our health. If not avoided, these health risks can be fatal. Don’t wait until it’s too late. There are ways to successfully quit smoking.

Think about it and act now.


1.The Tobacco Control Atlas ASEAN Region. Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. Fourth Edition.
Accessed 24 April 2019.

2.John Hopkins University. Smoking and Respiratory Diseases.,P01331
Accessed on January 31, 2019.

3.American Lung Society. 10 of the Worst Diseases Smoking Causes.

Accessed on January 31, 2019.

4.Planned Parenthood. Ectopic Pregnancy.

Accessed on March 22, 2019.

5. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Mayo Clinic.
Accessed 23 April 2019.


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