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The Impact of Smoking on Urologic Health

The Impact of Smoking on Urologic Health

Your health is influenced by various lifestyle choices, and one significant factor that can impact your risk of cancer and urologic conditions is smoking. From erectile dysfunction to bladder cancer, kidney cancer, infertility, and overactive bladder, smoking can have detrimental effects on your urologic health. If you’re looking to decrease your risk of certain urologic conditions, eliminating smoking from your habits should be your top priority.

Not only are cigarettes a concern, but also e-cigarettes, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco pose significant health risks that are often underestimated. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also elevate your risk. Account to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention1, 15% of Americans over 18 currently smoke cigarettes, making it the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, account for 1 in 5 deaths, totaling more than 480,000 deaths annually. However, the consequences of smoking go beyond mortality, and as mentioned above, smoking contributes to various urologic conditions and other serious health issues. If you are smoking and would like to stop, talk to your doctor and they can help you find the right smoking cessation program for you.

The most common urologic conditions exacerbated by smoking are:

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dyfunction (ED) refers to the persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Approximately 1 in 10 men experience ED2 at some point in their lives, but it’s important to note that it’s not an inevitable aspect of aging.

ED is a deeply personal and emotional issue that impacts both physical and psychological well-being. It is essential to recognize that ED is a treatable condition, and with appropriate intervention, most men can regain normal sexual function.

Quitting smoking can significantly enhance vascular health and consequently improve erectile function.

Bladder Cancer

The bladder is a balloon shaped organ that collects urine from the kidneys and stores it until it is eliminated through a tube called the urethra. The most common type of bladder cancer, transitional or urothelial cell, starts in the lining of the bladder.

Bladder cancer is highly treatable in the early stages of the disease, which is why it’s important for you to be seen by an experienced urologist when exhibiting any unusual bladder symptoms.

Cigarette smoking stands as the biggest risk factor for bladder cancer, and quitting can lower your risk of developing bladder cancer.

Kidney Cancer

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of adult kidney cancer, RCC is a mass that grows in the urine-producing portion of the kidney. RCC is more common than cancer of the renal pelvis, the part of the kidney that collects the urine.. Affecting about 32,000 Americans3 each year, this cancer usually responds well to treatment when caught early.

The most common risk factor associated with renal cell carcinoma is smoking.


While smoking during pregnancy has long been discouraged, it’s lesser known that I can also hinder the ability to conceive. Smoking can damage the genetic composition of eggs and sperm, diminish hormone production, and disrupt the uterine environment, ultimately leading to infertility.

The good news is that the effects of smoking on infertility can be reversed within a year of quitting smoking.

Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a chronic condition characterized by urinary incontinence and the extreme urgency to urinate. OAB is a common problem for many women, and sometimes in men, who live with its life-altering symptoms. Overactive bladder treatment has many approaches, from medication and behavioral changes to more advanced therapies.

Smoking is one cause of overactive bladder (OAB), as it irritates the bladder, leading to frequent urination.

Quitting smoking should be a priority to decrease the risk of these conditions. It’s crucial to recognize that smoking encompasses not only cigarettes but also e-cigarettes, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco, all of which pose substantial health risks. Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals for smoking cessation programs is recommended to address these concerns effectively. By taking proactive steps to quit smoking, you can improve their overall health and reduce your risk of urologic conditions and other serious health issues associated with tobacco use.


  1. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Available at: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States | CDC. Accessed May 2023.
  2. Chesapeake Urology at: Demystifying Erectile Dysfunction | United Urology
  3. Chesapeake Urology at: Kidney Cancer | United Urology.