Are you at risk? 5 smoking-related diseases you should know about
Are you at risk? 5 smoking-related diseases you should know about
Learn more about the diseases that you and your loved ones should know

MANILA, Philippines – When you are stressed with work, out with friends or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, do you always have a cigarette?

If you’re not a smoker, maybe you have a loved one who is.

Some people say they feel more relaxed when they smoke. For others, it “helps” their creative juices. But whatever it is that’s driving the behavior of smokers, one thing is sure: smoking is a risk factor to different diseases.

The Filipino smoker

Despite the efforts to reduce the number of smokers by limiting smoking in public places, Manila is still filled with street vendors peddling cigarettes, young people in their early teens smoking inside bars and men and women taking a break outside their building with a stick in hand.

There are 17.3 million adult Filipino smokers – 14.6 million are male while 2.8 million are female. [1] And if you’re not a smoker, you are still exposed to secondhand smoke which is harmful to your lungs as well.

But being aware of these numbers is only half of the story.

Health experts estimate that 10 Filipinos die of smoke-related disease every hour. Lung cancer is one of the top cancer-related deaths among Filipino men and the third for women. [2] COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is also in the 10 leading causes of death among Filipinos. [3]

Not convinced? Here is a list of some smoking-related diseases:

1.    Cancer

Lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia – the list goes on. Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body. [4]

Lifestyle choices, family history and the environment can contribute to the development of lung cancer, however, 90% of cases are caused by smoking, and it is undoubtedly the leading cause of lung cancer deaths in men and women. [4]

2.    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD

You probably know about lung cancer. But just like many, it is likely that you don’t know about COPD. This progressive disease is characterized by persistent limited airflow. This disease includes chronic bronchitis or increased cough due to inflammation of the airways, and emphysema or damage of the breathing tubes in the lungs. [5] If not properly addressed, COPD symptoms may get worse, leading to increased burden and even death for patients.

The symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing and coughing. Cigarette smoking causes 80% to 90% of COPD cases.

It is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines and may become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. [6]

3.    Cardiovascular disease

Smoking can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke may reduce the amount of oxygen your heart gets, can raise blood pressure and harm the interior of blood vessels including those in your heart. Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. [4]

4.    Oral health problems

We are all familiar with how smoking can darken the gums. But did you know that smoking could also affect the health of your teeth and cause tooth loss? [4] It can also lead to teeth discoloration, bad breath, gum disease and oral cancer.

5.    Reproductive issues

Smoking may also cause reproductive problems for men and women. It can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking can also have a negative impact on men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects. [4]

Be smart. Don’t compromise your health, your family’s well being and your own productivity by giving in to the habit of smoking. There is always a choice and breaking this habit, which is preventable, will benefit you and your loved ones in the long run.

To be sure, ask your doctor or health worker about the smoking-related diseases that can affect you and your loved ones.


[1] Department of Health, National Statistics Office, 2009. Tobacco Use in the Philippines. Philippines Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 1, 33.

[2] Reiner Gloor. 2014. Business World Online. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 October 14].

[3] Department of Health. 2014. Leading Causes of Mortality. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 October 14].

[4] Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. 2014. Smoking & Tobacco Use. [ONLINE] Available at:

smoking/. [Accessed 31 October 14].

[5] Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, GOLD, 2014. Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 1st ed. London: GOLD.

[6] World Health Organization. 2014. Burden of COPD. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 October 14].

For further information, please consult your doctor.

A public health message from: 


November 2014

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