How Smoking Affects Colorectal Health

Toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke are believed to damage DNA and tissues in the body over time which can cause an array of health issues. While most people know that smoking can have negative effects on your lungs, heart and other components of the respiratory system, many are unaware that it greatly impacts colorectal health.

Smoking Increases Risk of Colon Cancer & Colon Polyps

Colon polyps are growths inside the colon and rectum. While polyps aren’t always cancerous, they do have the potential to develop into cancer. People who smoke tend to develop larger and more numerous colon polyps. Studies have shown that the risk of developing colon cancer from smoking is as high as having a parent, sibling or child with colon cancer.

Smoking Makes Crohn’s Disease Symptoms Worse

Typically affecting the lower part of the small intestine, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes diarrhea and abdominal cramping. People with Crohn’s disease who smoke are more likely to:

  • Have more frequent and severe symptoms
  • Require surgery
  • Have recurring symptoms even after surgery

Some research suggests that Crohn’s disease symptoms are made worse because of decreased blood flow to the intestines and lowered immune defense.

Will Quitting Smoking Help?

While people who have smoked cigarettes have a higher risk of developing colon polyps than those who haven’t, you’re less likely to have this issue if you stop. If you suffer from Crohn’s disease or any other inflammatory bowel disease, kicking the habit could help to greatly reduce symptoms.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are 50 years or older, it is recommended that you receive a colonoscopy every five to ten years. Your doctor will check for polyps and signs of colon cancer. Since smoking tobacco increases your risk of developing these issues, it is especially important to have this procedure done.

If you have any questions or you would like to schedule an appointment, please call (404) 351-7900.