The devastating impact smoking has on your heart and lungs is well known. From cardiovascular disease to deadly lung cancer, smoking takes a toll on these vital organs. However, if you smoke, you will also play fire with its impact on the health of your kidneys, bladder, prostate, and, if a man, your ability to achieve an erection. These urological issues will directly affect your life, setting into motion a possible scenario of developing urological cancers and other health conditions, associated with smoking.
Why smoking affects urological health
Smoking cigarettes are not the only thing that impacts urological health. E-cigarettes, hookas, and smokeless or chewing tobacco also can cause health problems just as risky as cigarettes.
When you smoke, this causes a variety of situations within your body that may ultimately affects urological issues. For example, smoking increases inflammation, leads to free radicals causing a buildup of toxins, and impacts circulating hormone levels that increase your exposure to deadly carcinogens.
Urologists are uniquely positioned to work with their patients who smoke or use tobacco products by helping them end their dependence on these substances and to help them learn healthier lifestyle habits.
Urological conditions impacted by smoking
Several urological conditions are affected when you smoke. The best advice is never to start smoking, but if you already are, seek help in learning how to quit. The longer you smoke or use other tobacco products, the more devastating impact it will have on urological health.
Here is a list of urological conditions affected by smoking:
- Bladder cancer
The fifth most common solid organ cancer in the United States is bladder cancer. Studies have found smoking triples the risk for bladder cancer compared to nonsmokers. Every time someone who smokes takes a puff, it exposes their body to about 60 carcinogens found in urine specimens from smokers. Therefore, smoking is a modifiable risk factor for avoiding this type of cancer. In addition, smokers who quit will reduce their risk of bladder cancer dramatically.
- Prostate cancer
There are many risk factors for prostate cancer which include family history, dietary factors, inflammation, and infectious diseases. Through research, men who smoke and are exposed to toxins from nicotine have been shown to be at a higher risk of developing this disease, with long-term smokers at a greater risk of aggressive and more advanced disease. Cigarette smoking also impacts circulating hormone levels that expose men to carcinogens. It’s also believed that smoking leads to oxidative damage with a buildup of toxins in cells. Death rates of men who smoke and are diagnosed with prostate cancer have 43% higher risk than men who are nonsmokers.
- Kidney cancer
Most kidney cancers develop from lifestyle choices including smoking cigarettes, and especially long-term smoking. Tobacco smoking has been classified as a risk factor for cancer in the kidneys, ureters, and renal pelvis. A meta-analysis found that people who smoke 20 cigarettes a day or more had a 60% to 100% higher risk of developing kidney cancer than nonsmokers.
- Erectile dysfunction
Unsurprisingly, men who smoke are more prone to erectile dysfunction (ED). This is because, for men, achieving an erection requires good blood flow. But smoking can be one component that leads to the buildup of atherosclerosis or the narrowing of the small blood vessels leading to the penis.
Studies have been done on the relationship between smoking women and their risk of urinary incontinence. What has been shown is that smoking contributes to stress and could lead to stress incontinence. Also, anyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who often have fits of coughing, is advised to quit smoking to reduce the pressure on the pelvic floor muscles when a person coughs, that could cause incontinence.
Many studies have found an association between men and women who smoke and fertility. While smoking is discouraged during pregnancy due to potential damage to the developing baby, couples trying to conceive, will have a more challenging time if either the man or woman smokes.
Primary care physicians to urologists, should try to educate their patients on the ramifications of smoking and potentially raising their risk of urological cancers or other conditions. In addition, if a patient smokes, motivating them to join a smoking cessation program to help them quit, is an excellent start to snuffing out cigarettes for good.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.