Pain In The Gut

Smoking Causes More Than Lung Cancer

The most frequent disease association we make with smoking is lung cancer. After that we often think about cancers of the mouth and throat. There are, however, several other diseases and cancers associated with smoking and somehow we have failed to connect the dots. Stomach cancer, peptic ulcer disease, Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome have all be linked to smoking, yet most people are not aware of the connection.

Smoking is a direct cause of stomach cancer. The good news is that the risk of stomach cancer decreases after a person quits smoking and, if they remain smoke-free for 20 years or more, the risk of stomach cancer is about the same as it is for someone who has never smoked.

Long-term smoking, besides causing cancer of the colon, bladder, kidney, pancreas and stomach, also increases the risk of colorectal cancer. When a smoker inhales smoke, the carcinogens go all the way down to the colon. The polyp size in the colon increases which means that the possibility of cancer increases with the size. Twelve percent of colorectal cancers are the direct result of smoking.

What Has Smoking Got To Do With H.pylori Bacteria?

If an individual is infected with H.pylori bacteria and is a smoker, then peptic ulcer disease results, which are painful ulcers in the stomach and/or the duodenum. Complications exacerbated by smoking, such as internal bleeding and perforated ulcers increase the chance of death from the disease. Peptic ulcer disease can be treated, but the treatment will be invalidated if the person continues to smoke.

Peptic ulcer disease in the stomach and gut from smoking develops in a variety of ways. Smoking enhances the reflux of the contents of the small intestine back into the stomach and increases acidity in the duodenum. This acid increase makes the area more vulnerable to H.pylori infection. Damage to stomach tissues and an increase in healing time for ulcers is the result of constriction of blood vessels caused by smoking. The body has a natural mechanism for protecting the stomach lining and duodenum which is negatively affected, reducing its efficiency when a person smokes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Crohn's Disease Triggered By Nicotine

The risks of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease, both chronic inflammations of the bowel, are increased in a smoker. IBS is a painful bowel disorder that causes cramping, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gassiness and the symptoms of this disease are worsened with smoking. People with Crohn's or IBS have very sensitive gastrointestinal tracts and it is proven that tobacco is a powerful GI tract irritant along with being a carcinogen. In fact, it is one of the worst triggers for IBS. The poison found in nicotine increases the production of acids within the stomach and bowel and the end result can very well be cancer.

It is not news to anyone these days that smoking is dangerous to your health. Still, people continue to smoke and risk shortening their lives with painful diseases which could be alleviated or eliminated by quitting.