WASHINGTON - Smoking cigarettes can cause even more health problems than lung cancer, including blindness, diabetes, erectile dysfunction and liver cancer, said a major US government report on Friday.
The latest Surgeon General's findings on the health consequences of smoking were to be formally announced at the White House, in a ceremony marking 50 years since the first landmark report of its kind warned Americans that cigarettes caused lung cancer.
Even though smoking rates are way down in the United States -- 18 per cent of people here now smoke compared to 42 per cent five decades ago -- modern cigarettes are more potent and more dangerous than ever, said Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak.
"Smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did when the first Surgeon General's report was released in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes," said Lushniak.
"How cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain have changed over the years, and some of those changes may be a factor in higher lung cancer risks."
The report said experts now know that active smoking can cause a common form of blindness called age-related macular degeneration, as well as diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer.
Smoking can also cause tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction, facial clefts in infants, ectopic pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, impaired immune function, and worsens the outlook for cancer patients and survivors.
Those who do not smoke but are exposed to second-hand smoke face an increased risk of stroke, said the report.