Smoking is one of the most common causes of illness and death in the world. Every year, millions of people die from smoking, while many smokers struggle with debilitating medical conditions that are chronic and life threatening.
Smoking places you at the risk of developing more than fifty serious health conditions. While some are fatal, others are irreversible. Long term damage to your health is the result. You can face illness through not just direct, but also passive or secondhand smoke.
Smoking Raises Health Risks
Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to contract cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and various forms of cancer including lung cancer.
Estimates show smoking raises the risk for coronary heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times and increases likelihood of lung cancer in men by 25 times and women by 25.7 times.
Smoking leads to diminished overall health, increased work absenteeism and health care as well as utilization costs. In the United States alone, cigarette smoke causes more than 480,000 deaths annually.
Around 1 in 5 people in one of the most developed countries in the world die due to smoking. In emerging countries, the situation is far worse.
Smoking leads to more deaths and health problems than alcohol, drug use, fire and motor accidents combined. Around 10 times as many US citizens have died from cigarette smoking than wars fought by North America.
Smoking causes 90 percent of all deaths due to lung cancer. Statistics show that more women die from lung cancer than even breast cancer.
Smoking causes 8 in 10 deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. Smoking, including secondhand smoke raises the risk of death for women and men.
The Health Problems Associated with Tobacco
Regardless of how you smoke it, tobacco is a lethal substance, containing carbon monoxide, tar, acetone and nicotine.
These substances which are inhaled impact not just the lungs, but the entire human body. Smoking can lead to a number of complications in the body and long-term effects on organs and systems.
Smoking increases the risk of numerous health problems over years and most of these are presented here:
- Early menopause in women
- Vision problems
- Constriction of blood vessels
- Poor immunity
- Bad cholesterol and heart health issues
- Blood clotting problems
- Poor appetite
- Erectile dysfunction
- Increased risk of various forms of cancer
- Insulin based metabolic disorders like diabetes
- Anxiety, irritability, depression, mood based and other psychological disorders
- Dull sense of taste and smell
- Poor dental health
- Bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory disorders
- Skin diseases and problems
- Throat and stomach disorders
Cigarette smoke is extremely harmful for health. There is no way to smoke safely, even if you replace your cigarette with a cigar, pipe or hookah.
Cigarettes contain 600 toxic ingredients and as many can be found in other tobacco products. When the combustion of these ingredients occurs, more than 7,000 chemicals are generated as per the American Lung Association. Most chemicals are poisonous and around 69 of them are linked to cancer.
In the US, mortality rate for smokers is 3 times as high as that of people who never smoked. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, this is the most common preventable cause of death in the US.
While the impact of smoking may not be immediate, the damage and ensuing complication can last for a long time. Quitting smoking can reverse many effects. Consider an addictive ingredient in tobacco called nicotine.
This reaches your brain in seconds and energizes you for a while. But while the effect is a high for some minute, it can be debilitating when the low hits and withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.
Cancer And Cigarette Smoke
Smoking is implicated in around 90 percent of lung cancer cases. It also leads to cancer in other body organs such as the oral (mouth and lips), throat, larynx, esophageal, kidney, bladder, liver, stomach and pancreas.
Smoking leads to cancer in nearly any part of the body. From the cervix to the colon, the bladder to the blood, cancer of any type can strike once you decide to smoke a cigarette.
Smoking also raises the risk of succumbing to cancer and other diseases in patients as well as survivors.
When smoke comes into contact with living cells, it creates damage. Those who don’t inhale are breathing in large amounts of smoke from the mouth.
Combustion produces toxic cancer causing chemicals regardless of whether it is a cigar, cigarette, or pipe.
Tobacco contains harmful chemicals that cause cancer, 70 of which are known carcinogens. The same amount of toxic chemicals that are inhaled by passive smokers, goes into a smoker’s lungs.
All cigarettes are harmful leading to negative impact in terms of cancer-causing toxins.
Heart Disease and Smoking
Smoking causes damage to the heart and blood circulation, raising the chances of developing disorders such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, damaged blood vessels such as peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease and more.
Smokers are at a bigger risk for diseases affecting heart and blood vessels. Smoking leads to stroke and coronary heart disease. This is among the leading causes of death due to cigarette smoke.
Tobacco products can cause death, even if the number of cigarettes smoked is less. Those who smoke fewer than 5 cigarettes in a day can develop early signs of heart trouble.
Smoking also causes damage to the blood vessels and makes them thicken and narrow down. This causes the arteries to become blocked and the heart to beat faster.
Consequently, the blood pressure goes up. Clots can also result. A stroke takes place when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain. The blood vessel located near the brain bursts. Blockages on account of smoking can reduce blood flow to the skin and legs.
Smoking damages the complete cardiovascular system. Nicotine leads to the tightening of the blood vessels, restricting the blood flow. Ongoing narrowing down and harm to blood vessels leads to peripheral artery disease.
Smoking also raises blood pressure, increasing blood clots and weakening the blood vessel walls. This raises the chance of a stroke and also increases risk for developing more symptoms if you have a stent, a heart attack or a bypass before this.
Smoking impacts cardiovascular health of those who do not smoke either. Exposure to second hand smoke can be deadly and includes heart attack, heart disease and stroke linked risks.
Chemicals in tobacco smoke harm blood cells, damaging the function of the heart. Damage raises the risk for arteriosclerosis, aneurysms, cardiovascular, and coronary heart disease.
Heart attack and angina as well as hypertension can also be the result of smoking. A change in the blood chemistry comes about due to breathing tobacco smoke and it damages blood vessels.
As smoke is inhaled, the cells lining the blood vessels in the body react to chemicals. Heart rate and blood pressure rises as cell and arteries thicken and narrow.
Smoking and Respiratory Diseases
Smoking can damage the lungs by harming the airways and the small air sacs called alveoli. Lung diseases caused by smoking range from COPD to emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Cigarette smoking also causes lung cancer. Asthma attacks can be triggered or worsen due to inhalation of cigarette smoke. Smokers additionally have 12 to 13 times greater chances of triggering or making their asthma attack worse.
When smoke is inhaled, the person takes in toxins that damage lungs. Across an extended span of time, this can trigger irreversible lung conditions such as emphysema which involves destruction of air sacs in the lungs.
Chronic bronchitis results when inflammation impacts the lining of the lung’s breathing tubes. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease refers to a category of respiratory diseases that include these.
Lungs and airways become dry due to smoking. Passive smokers are also at risk for prolonged wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Withdrawal from tobacco products leads to temporary congestion and discomfort as the airways and lungs commence their healing ultimately resulting in healthy lungs.
Smoking also damages or worsens respiratory conditions such as asthma or common cold. COPD is a condition which progressively worsens with symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, and chest tightness.
Emphysema is a condition where air sacs or alveoli lose the ability to stretch and regain shape. Lung tissue destruction makes breathing impossible. In chronic bronchitis, smoking causes swelling of the bronchial tubes causing less air to flow to and from the lungs.
Smoking damages airways and alveoli in the lungs and progressively worsens lung conditions such as pneumonia. Statistics show that smoking is a common cause of COPD and women are more prone to it.
Chronic bronchitis is associated with a bad cough, swollen airways and lung conditions like pneumonia and there is no cure for it.
Emphysema destroys the ability of the person to breathe normally, decreasing the amount of oxygen accessing the bloodstream. People also face weak lung functioning and pneumonia. Emphysema cannot be reversed or cured. It can be treated and slowed down when the person ceases smoking.
Tobacco smoke leads to chemicals and particles that irritate the airways and lungs. Smoker’s cough results when cilia or hair like structures that sweep harmful material out of the lungs malfunction. Smoker’s cough can be an early indication of COPD.
Health Risks Linked to Secondhand Smoke
Passive smoking or breathing in secondhand smoke increases chances of developing health conditions. It increases chances of developing lung and chest infections, meningitis, and a persistent cough.
Asthma, fertility problems or even heart health issues can emerge due to smoking. Smoking during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature or early birth, low birth weight babies and still birth.
Cigarette smoke harms each organ of the body, leading to many diseases and impacting the health of smokers specifically.
Other Health Conditions From Cigarette Smoke
Smoking can lead to skin diseases such as melanoma, carcinoma and fungal nail infections. Hair quality is adversely affected by cigarette smoke too.
Passive smoking raises the chance of developing cancers of mouth, throat, esophageal, larynx and pancreatic cancer. Even smoking and not inhaling harms the body.
Smoking also impacts insulin and initiates insulin resistance, putting it at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and complications that exacerbate due to insulin spike and fall.
Smoking also causes autoimmune disorders. This can lead to Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking doubles the risk of these conditions and increases chances of diabetes by 30 to 40 percent.
A direct link between tobacco use and decreased bone density can harm the body too. Increasing the risk for osteoporosis, or bone loss, smoking also causes hormonal imbalances in the human body.
Smoking can even lead to optic nerve damage, age related macular degeneration, and cataract.
Thus, there is an entire range of common health problems related to smoking, from the annoying but persistent smoker’s cough to the lethal cancers and heart diseases.
This can also lead to a lot of damage to those who inhale secondhand smoke. Passive smoking is as lethal as firsthand cigarette smoke.
This is why smoking is a habit you need to kick for good. Choose healthier alternatives such as vaping and NRT to make the transition to a smoke-free life.