(USA TODAY) -- A new report from the surgeon general finds that smoking causes even more physical and financial damage than previously estimated, killing 480,000 Americans a year from diseases that include diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer.
The report, released today, represents the first time the surgeon general has concluded that smoking is "causally linked" to these diseases. The report finds that smoking causes rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction and macular degeneration, a major cause of age-related blindness. Smoking causes inflammation, impairs immune function and increases the risk of death from tuberculosis, an infectious disease.
Smoking also harms pregnant women and their fetuses by causing birth defects called cleft lips and palates and by causing ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus.