Main Article Image
General Health

The Health 'Benefits' of Smoking?

I had a major disagreement with a medical colleague recently.

He was stressed out big time and puffed on an endless supply of cigarettes. He knew that I'm a non smoker and hate smoke near me. But he continued to puff. As I moved away he growled at me: "Don’t you know the benefits of smoking?"


Surprised, I stopped.

Then he launched into a justification of how smoking has benefits, and how smokers are uniquely protected against certain diseases and afflictions.  He even supported his view with what seemed like 'proof'.

Sure I was curious, though doubtful.

After I ‘escaped’ I researched the four health benefits he claimed smoking delivers. I thought you may be interested in my findings.

1. Smoking lowers the risk of knee replacement surgery

Surprising results from a study published in the Journal Arthritis & Rheumatism reveal that men who smoke had less risk of undergoing total joint replacement surgery than those who never smoked. Further, men who had smoked for more than 48 years were up to 51% less likely to have undergone total joint replacements of their knees and hips than men who had never smoked.

How come?

Well, the study authors don’t really give an explanation! One of the professors says: “Other studies have drawn links between smoking and increases in cartilage volume, and more work needs to be done in this area.”

Perhaps the nicotine in tobacco helps prevent cartilage and joint deterioration?

At least Professor Ryan has the sense to comment: “Despite these findings, the fact remains that any possible beneficial effect of smoking on osteoarthritis is far outweighed by other health risks”.

2. Smoking lowers risk of Parkinson's disease

Numerous studies, including from Harvard have identified how long-term smokers are protected against Parkinson's. Also, in the 2010 Journal Neurology, researchers found that the number of years smoking had more of a protective effect than the number of cigarettes smoked daily.

The researchers concluded, in their special scientific way that they didn't have a clue as to why!

At least the Harvard experts offered some explanation and cautions: “It is not our intent to promote smoking as a protective measure against Parkinson's disease. Obviously smoking has a multitude of negative consequences. Rather, we did this study to try to encourage other consider the possibility that neuroprotective chemicals may be present in tobacco leaves."

3. Smoking lowers the risk of obesity

Smoking, particularly the nicotine in tobacco smoke, is both a stimulant and an appetite suppressant.     This has been known for centuries, dating back to indigenous cultures in pre-Columbus America. By the 1920’s, profit hungry Tobacco companies began targeting women with the lure that smoking would make them thinner.

Indeed, I’m sure we all know someone who keeps smoking because they are afraid of the weight gain once they stop.

As an appetite suppressant, nicotine appears to act on a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, at least in mice, as revealed in a 2011 study by Yale researchers

While no respectable doctor would recommend smoking for weight control, the Yale study shows hope for a safe diet drug to help obese people control their appetites. Study author Professor Marina Picciotto says: “I'm hopeful that we'll be able to make medications based on these nicotine receptors that could be helpful in controlling appetite."

4. Smoking helps the heart drug clopidogrel work better

Clopidogrel is a drug to prevent blood clots from leading to strokes and heart attacks. A 2010 study by Korean researchers builds upon work by Harvard researchers published in 2009 that demonstrates the benefit of smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day.

It seems that something in cigarette smoke activates certain proteins called cytochromes, which convert clopidogrel into a more effective active state.

Of course, no respectable doctor would encourage patients to start smoking to benefit from clopidogrel.

But this and the other three "benefits" of smoking reveal how tobacco, perhaps not unlike other potentially toxic plants, might contain natural elements of real therapeutic value when used sensibly. Please Click HERE if you wish to explore this thought further.

A silver lining in otherwise blackened lungs perhaps!


  • “Let’s not forget that most of the negative consequences of smoking is because of the additive chemicals large manufacturers put inside their products.  I read an article long ago where researchers attempted to ascertain the secret to long life within a certain group of natives somewhere and after speaking with locals, they were told their secret was smoking.  Now, they weren’t chain smoking your typical packaged garbage, they grew organic tobacco and cultivated it in a very particular fashion and had an ingenious filtering mechanism.  Surprisingly, local death rates due to lung disease were practically non-existent. ”

    Lightwaves September 29 2011

  • “Maybe smokers don’t wear out their joints because they don’t excercise as much due to their decreased lung capacity and oxygen delivery capacity. ”

    Anna September 22 2011

  • “Hello harleyrider1978 Many thanks indeed for your informative comments. I totally agree that dis-ease is multi-causal, and that there are numerous inter-related factors involved,  smoking being just one of them. However, it would help to have hard evidence supporting your contention that: "Not 1 death or sickness etiologically assigned to tobacco. All the diseases attributed to smoking are also present in non smokers". Thanks again. Caramia ”

    Xtend-Life Expert September 22 2011

  • “I am the "child" (now 68 years old) of smokers. Besides of the fact that their puffing gave me headaches and nausea, I knew at about the age of 8 (decades before all the resaearch came out, and not even knowing the term "addiction") that smoking is addictive – I just had to watch how my parents acted when at 9 p.m. they discovered that there was no cigarette left in the pack ! After they accused each other of who took the last one, they would send ME out through dark streets to the next public vending machine ! I grew up HATING smoking, and never did it myself. Once word came out (see # 3 in the above article) that smoking is "helpful" against obesity, the German health insurances put up public placards everywhere , showing a SKELETON, smoking a cigarette, with the catch phrase "Smoking slims you down" – that was in the 60s ! Although Germany was once far ahead of other countries in admitting and showing the dangers of smoking, now they are far behind in protecting non-smokers from the crap that the smokers blow out everywhere ! My favorite cousin who always laughed at my smoke phobia, just died a horrible death of cancer in the mouth and lungs – guess where she got that from ?”

    Katja September 23 2011

  • “HarleyRider1978 needs to move into the 21st century. He is making a fool of himself. Thankfully I know he can site a 1940s Eastern Block "scientific" study to prove that while a fool and his money are soon parted, unfortunately they opinions remain.”

    Taffy September 22 2011

  • “My parents both died at age 61, and didn’t have time to get to the age to replace a knee. No change in my views, I am 60 and thank God I don’t smoke or drink, and my 6 children have heard the cautions against both. I listen to my doctors and life insurance still charges extra for smokers! People’s opinions may be mixed, but not mine. I miss them every day.”

    mary schacht September 22 2011

  • “My grandfather died at the age of 73 from lung cancer. He was a smoker on and off all of his life. So despite the advantages to smoking, there are grave repercussions.”

    Catherine September 23 2011

  • “All you have to do is watch someone die of lung cancer to get the REAL impact of smoking. (It takes about 3 to 5 years to die) They slowly suffocate due to bleeding tumors in the lung and airways. Just imagine being mentally aware of every breath and each day a little harder to take that breath in. They go through a period of panic at first, then succumb to the reality that this is the way they will die. I’ve had three people close to me die this way and I’m only 47 years old. I’m not talking 80 year old people here, one of them was only 32. It is by far, the worst way to go. Give me all those health problems over a death like that.”

    Tess September 27 2011

  • “Thank you all for your comments. Clearly they reflect your personal, and in some cases painful experiences. As I said in my blog, I dislike smoking or being near anyone who smokes because I have seen too many negative effects from it. However, I also think that there may be some therapeutic value from the nicotine IF used sensibly, in moderation and with an overall healthy lifestyle. In my father’s case for example, he smoked in moderation, eat and exercised very healthily and lived into his 90’s. On the other hand, my sister who smokes like a chimney, survives on processed foods, and exercises little, is 65, looks 75, and has all sorts of health complications. But for me to say categorically that my sister’s ill health is ONLY caused by her excessive smoking would be inappropriate. There are simply too many other factors involved. My vote is not to start in the first place, or be around smokers. Harsh maybe. But my choice which has severed me well. Caramia ”

    Xtend-Life Expert September 27 2011

  • “Not 1 Death or Sickness Etiologically Assigned to Tobacco. All the diseases attributed to smoking are also present in non smokers. It means, in other words, that they are multifactorial, that is, the result of the interaction of tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of factors, either known or suspected contributors – of which smoking can be one”

    Xtend-Life Expert September 21 2011

  • “Just looking at smokes or listening his/her voice  you can tell- it is a smoker, such changes you see outside, and what is going inside?  I would like to recommend to everybody to read wonderful book" Thank you for smoking", you will get a pleasure and a lot of laugh, which is good for you.”

    Anna C. September 23 2011

  • “Every smoker has their own ‘reasons’ for smoking to justify their habit. The key is to personalize your stop smoking program and find what motivates you to quit. To get your <a href="">free quit smoking report</a> visit and find out how to become a non-smoker naturally, with no harmful side effects.”

    Dan @ NYC Quit Smoking October 30 2013

  • “You can all quote as many studies as you want. I will go with what I have experienced. I used to be a smoker. I chose a healthier lifestyle about 15 years ago. Two summers ago when a friend and I drove to 3500 miles to Alaska. He smoked 2 – 3 cigarettes per day in the vehicle with me and my asthma got immediately worse. When we got to Alaska, I went for my normal run and couldn’t finish two and a half miles where I usually train at a 10k distance. When I returned home, it took me another two weeks before I felt like my lungs had recovered. Read and post all the studies you want. I will choose to pass up the "health benefits" of smoking for the rest of my life.”

    Mike October 04 2011

Leave a Comment

You may also like...

Subscribe to our Health Matters Newsletter