10 less-known reasons to give up smoking

Daniel Couglin / 26 September 2017

It’s not just COPD, lung cancer and heart disease. Did you know smoking can affect your hearing, memory, sex drive and more?

New research from University College London has revealed that older smokers are more at risk of becoming physically frail than non-smokers or former smokers – another compelling reason to quit for good.

Of course, most smokers are all too aware that the habit significantly increases their risk of developing lung and other cancers, as well as COPD, cardiovascular disease and a whole host of serious, potentially life-threatening conditions.

Yet, like decreasing the chances of frailty in later life, there are plenty of other health-related reasons to give up smoking that are less well-known. From reducing the risk of hearing loss to promoting stronger bones, here are 10 of the most overlooked.

Informative, in-depth and in the know: get the latest health news and info with Saga Magazine. Find out more

You'll decrease your risk of hearing loss

Smokers are 14.1% more likely than non-smokers to develop hearing loss...

A study conducted in 2014 by the University of Manchester found that smokers are 14.1% more likely than non-smokers to develop hearing loss later on in life. Experts have put this down to the toxins in tobacco products and the damage smoking does to the blood vessels, which can have a negative impact on ear health.

10 ways to protect your hearing

Your hands and feet won't feel as cold in winter

Smokers often complain about cold hands and feet during the chiller months of the year, and for good reason. “Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, increasing the chance of circulation problems,” says London-based GP Dr Jacques Mizan. By quitting, you'll improve the flow of blood to the extremities and enjoy toastier hands and feet in winter.

Cold hands and feet? Dr Mark Porter has the answer

You'll have a higher sex drive

Many people are aware that smoking is a major cause of impotence and that male smokers are more likely to have problems achieving and maintaining erections. But studies show smoking reduces libido and sexual arousal, too. In men and in women. All in all, as bad habits go, smoking is a veritable passion-killer.

Top tips to boost your libido

Your cuts and grazes will heal faster

Wounds take longer to heal as you get older, and smoking makes the whole healing process even slower and more drawn-out. Smoking reduces the supply of oxygen to the tissues and makes the blood 'sticky', which impede healing. No wonder surgeons ask patients to give up the habit pre and post-op.

How to prepare for surgery

You'll have fewer post-op aches and pains

Smokers endure more post-operative pain than non-smokers.

Study after study has shown that smokers endure more post-operative pain than non-smokers, which figures, after all, smoking de-accelerates the healing process. In fact, a study published last year in the journal Pain Research and Management reported that participating smokers required higher doses of morphine than non-smokers following major surgery.

Bounce back from surgery faster

You'll experience less acid reflux

Smoking has been shown to exacerbate heartburn symptoms. The nicotine in tobacco products relaxes the sphincter muscle in the lower oesophagus, allowing stomach acid to back up. Smoking also increases stomach acid production, reduces saliva production and damages the lining of the oesophagus, not what you need if you have gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).

Acid reflux cough? Dr Mark Porter advises

You'll reduce your risk of developing AMD, cataracts and blindness

If you want to look after your eyes, quitting smoking should be your number one priority. According to RNIB, smoking doubles the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a leading cause of blindness. Smokers also have a higher incidence of cataracts than non-smokers.

10 tips for eye health

You'll have stronger bones

Research has linked smoking with lower bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis. This weakening of the bones puts smokers at a higher risk of fracture, including fractures of the wrist, ankles and hips. TV medic Dr Sarah Jarvis sums it up succinctly: “Smoking – don't do it for your bones' sake!”

Hip fracture: 20 ways to cut your risk

How to help prevent osteoporosis

You'll think more clearly

Smoking can make memory problems worse in older people.

Smoking can make memory problems worse in older people and even heighten the risk of dementia. The habit has been found to thin the cerebral cortex of the brain and several studies have shown that smokers are more prone to cognitive decline than non-smokers or quitters. Thankfully, much of the damage can be repaired as long you stop smoking in time.

How to cut your risk of dementia

You'll be less likely to snore

Is your snoring driving your partner up the wall? Your cigarette habit could be to blame. The British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association warns that smoking irritates the nasal passages, causing inflammation and congestion. This makes it harder to breathe through the nose, increasing the likelihood of snoring.

Practical advice for how to stop snoring

It's never too late to stub out the ciggies and give up for good. For advice on quitting, visit the NHS Stop Smoking site, speak to your GP or make an appointment to see the Stop Smoking advisor at your local surgery. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.