News Release

November 10, 2009

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Smoking’s Ills Go Beyond Heart, Lungs

November 19 is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Quitting smoking can greatly reduce the risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. But that’s just what’s at the top of a long list of health problems associated with tobacco use.

For example, smoking causes oral health problems. Dr. Ellen Eisenberg, professor and director of oral pathology at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, says the bad breath and stained teeth are just the beginning.

“Smoking also has been shown to delay healing of wounds in the mouth caused by accidental trauma or from surgery, including tooth extraction,” Eisenberg says. “It can also prolong the course of jawbone infections, and it contributes to the intensity of inflammatory conditions of the gums and the jawbone, including periodontal disease.

By far, the most serious oral health hazard from smoking is oral cancer, and that has implications that go way beyond the mouth.

“Precancerous as well as cancerous oral lesions heighten the patient’s risk for developing additional cancers in the throat, the windpipe and the esophagus and other organs,” Eisenberg says. “All adults, whether they have teeth or not, should visit a dentist once a year for a complete examination of the mouth tissues. Most of the time, they will get a clean bill of health, but if changes that are suspicious for cancer or precancer are found, the earlier they are detected and managed, the better the outcome.”

Other health risks associated with smoking include cancers of the colon, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia, stroke, hip factures, cataracts, pneumonia and other airway infections, and pregnancy complications.

Thursday, November 19, is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. The UConn Health Center, which is working toward a smoke-free campus, has several ongoing smoking cessation studies. More information, for both the public and the Health Center community, is available online:

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