One of the primary negative health issues associated with smoking is the destruction of lung tissue. Lung tissue damage occurs in a number of ways when you smoke. In some cases, the damage is permanent and even life-threatening, according to the American Cancer Society.
Immediate and Short Term Impact
Your lungs contain cilia, stiff hairs that clean lung tissue. A relatively immediate result of smoking is slowing the function of cilia. Over time, smoking destroys cilia, reducing the ability of the lungs to stay in a clean condition, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The net effect is the buildup of foreign substances in the lungs, which damages lung tissue and leads to disease.
Smoking introduces over 4,000 chemicals into your lungs, some of which are carcinogenic, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Carcinogenic chemicals damage lung tissue by changing normal cells into cancerous ones. Lung cancer is a deadly disease. Over time, smoking additionally kills lung tissue, lessening lung capacity and making it harder to breath.
Most damage to and destruction of lung tissue takes place over time, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For example, the carcinogenic chemicals contained in cigarette smoke typically need to accumulate over time before precancerous and ultimately cancerous conditions occur. The time frame for permanent lung destruction varies from individual to individual and depends in some part on the number of cigarettes smoked on a regular basis.
Research demonstrates that in many cases, stopping smoking results in at least some improvement of certain damage sustained to lung tissue, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For example, a precancerous condition can abate, preventing the onset of cancer in some individuals.
Because the impact of smoking on lung tissue varies depending on a variety of factors, experts maintain that you should avoid smoking altogether, according to the American Cancer Society.