Does smoking cigars raise your risk of cancer and death?

Regular cigar smoking increases your risk for many cancers, including:

* Lung
* Lip, tongue, mouth, throat (oral cavity)
* Esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach)
* Voice box (larynx)
* Probably pancreas

Studies have shown that regular cigar smokers are 4 to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus than non-smokers. For those who inhale, cigar smoking appears to be linked to death from cancer of the pancreas and bladder, too.

How you smoke and how much you smoke are both important. Cigar smokers may spend an hour smoking one large cigar that can contain as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes. Smoking more cigars each day or inhaling cigar smoke leads to more exposure and higher risks. The health risks linked to occasional cigar smoking (less than daily) are not known.
Does inhaling affect the risk of cancer?

Although almost all cigarette smokers inhale, in the past most cigar smokers have not. This may be because cigar smoke tends to irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and breathing passages. A new trend among cigar companies is to change the fermenting process to make cigar smoke easier to inhale. This same curing and fermenting process further enhances the flavor but also increases the levels of harmful ingredients.

For those who do not inhale, tobacco smoke does not reach the lungs in the same amounts as it does in cigarette smokers. As a result, the risk of death from lung cancer for cigar smokers who don't inhale is not as high as it is for cigarette smokers. Still, it is many times higher than the risk for non-smokers.

Cigar smokers who have smoked cigarettes are more likely to inhale. According to an American Cancer Society study, those who inhale have an increased risk of death from lung cancer 11 times greater than that of non-smokers.

The study also found that for cigar smokers who inhale, the risks are increased for other types of cancer. Compared to non-smokers, cigar smokers who inhale deeply:

* Are 7 times more likely to die from oral cancer
* Are 39 times more likely to die from cancer of the voice box (larynx)
* Face about 3 times the risk of death from cancer of the pancreas
* Face about 4 times the risk of death from bladder cancer

Do cigars cause other health problems?
Heart and lung disease

Cigarette smoking is known to increase the risk of lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Cigarette smokers also have twice the risk of dying of heart attacks as do non-smokers. While the link is not quite as strong as with cigarette smoking, cigar smoking (especially for people who inhale) also increases the risk of heart disease and lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Heart and lung diseases can steal away a person's enjoyment of life long before they cause death. These problems may start when smokers are in their 40s, and tend to worsen with age. Smoking-related illness can make it harder for a person to breathe, get around, work, or play.
Other effects on the body

Cigar smoking, like cigarette smoking, is linked to gum disease, where the gums shrink away from the teeth. It also raises the risk that your teeth will fall out.

At least one study has linked cigar smoking to sexual impotence in men (an inability to get an erection, also known as erectile dysfunction).