A Message from the Heart to the Heart
Prashanthy, Gopal, Medical student (All Saints University,Auruba)
Reviewed and revised by Dr.Abdulwahab Arrazaghi
(Specialist of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases)
University of Toronto, Canada
Why Is Smoking Injurious to Health?
- Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body.
- Smoking causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general.
- The chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco smoke make smoking harmful. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals.
- At least 50 are known carcinogens and many are poisonous.
- Research has shown that smoking reduce life expectancy by seven to eight years.
- The average cigarette shortens a smoker life by around 11mins
- It has been estimated that 300 young people die daily as a result of smoking complications and the number of people under the age of 70 who die from smoking complications exceeds the total death number from death caused by AIDS, Breast cancer , traffic accidents and drug addiction
Smoking and Increased Health Risks
- Coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times.
- Stroke by 2 to 4 times.
- Men developing lung cancer by 23 times.
- Women developing lung cancer by 13 times.
- Mortality due to Chronic Obstructive lung disease (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.
Systemic Effects of Smoking Cardiovascular System
The effects of smoking on the circulatory system include:
- Raised blood pressure and heart rate.
- Constriction (tightening) of blood vessels in the skin, resulting in a drop in skin temperature.
- Less oxygen carried by the blood leading to hypoxia and death.
- Viscous blood due to increase levels of fibrinogen and platelets (which are involved in blood clotting).
- Damage to the lining of the arteries, which is thought to be a contributing factor to atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits on the artery walls)
- Buerger’s Disease, which is acute inflammation and thrombosis of arteries and veins of the hands and feet.
- Increased risk of stroke, heart attack and peripheral vascular disease due to several ingredients in tobacco like CO and Nicotine, which leads to narrowing of the blood vessels leading to blockage.
Chronic obstructive air way disease, is a lung disease resulting from chronic inflammation o f the air ways results in its narrowing making breathing difficult.
Smoking is the most common casue of COPD, and account for more than 80% of all cases. The disease starts between the ages 30 to 45.It has been shown that the overall damage from smoking is permanent but the rate of damage and lung function decline can be reduced by giving up smoking
Other negative effect of smoking on the airways can also include:
- Irritation of the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box).
- Reduced lung function and breathlessness due to swelling and narrowing of the lung airways.
- Excess mucus in the lung passages which is known as chronic bronchitis.
- Impairment of the lungs’ clearance system, leading to the build-up of poisonous substances, which results in lung irritation and damage.
- Increased risk of lung infection and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing.
- Emphysema- loss of elasticity and inflammation of the alveoli resulting in shortness of breath.
- Smoking easily damages the sensitive blood vessels of eye. This causes blood shot appearance of eyes and itching.
- In heavy smokers it may lead to degeneration and loss of eyesight.
- Smokers are at an increased risk of cataracts.
- Due to smoking the skin is deprived of oxygen and it loses its texture. An average smoker looks 5 years older than healthy nonsmoker.
- The skin loses its healthy glow and takes on a yellowish-gray cast. The more cigarettes smoked, the worse skin will look.
- Wrinkles start appearing very quickly as smoking affects elastic tissues of the skin.
The Female Reproductive System
The specific effects of smoking on the female reproductive system include:
- Reduced fertility.
- Menstrual cycle irregularities or absence of menstruation.
- Menopause reached one or two years earlier.
- Increased risk of cancer of the cervix.
- Greatly increased risk of stroke and heart attack if the smoker taking the oral contraceptive pill.
The Effects of Maternal Smoking on an Unborn Baby
- Increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
- Low birth weight, which may have a lasting effect of the growth and development of children.
- Increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip.
- Paternal smoking can also harm the fetus if the non-smoking mother is exposed to secondhand smoke.
- If the mother or father continues to smoke during their baby’s first year of life, the child has an increased risk of ear infections, respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and meningococcal disease.
The Male Reproductive System
The effects of smoking on the male reproductive system include:
- Lower sperm count.
- Reduced sperm mobility.
- Incidence of impotence is approximately 85 percent higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers. Smoking causes impotence because it promotes arterial narrowing.
- It is a key cause of erectile dysfunction (ED).
Other Effects of Smoking on the Body
- Irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
- Increased risk of painful ulcers along the digestive tract.
- Reduced ability to smell and taste.
- Gum disease (periodontitis).
- Increases the chances of Osteoporosis because it decreases bone density.
- Decreases Vitamin C levels.
Smoking and Cancer
Smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers. This is particularly true of lung cancer, throat cancer lip and mouth cancer. Such cancers are very rare in non-smokers The relationship between smoking and lung cancer is well established.
Ninety percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking.
If no-one smoked, lung cancer would be very uncommon disease – only 0.5 per cent of people who've never had a cigarette develop lung cancer.
One in ten moderate smokers and almost one in five heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day) will die of lung cancer.
The risk of cancer is proportional to the number of cigarettes and the duration of time of smoking. Also the deeper you inhale and how early in life you have start smoking is a major risk factor for development of cancer.
Other types of cancer that are more common in smokers are:
- Kidneys (Renal cell carcinoma)
- Esophagus (Squamous cell carcinoma)
- Pancreas (Adenocarcinoma)
- Bladder (Transitional cell carcinoma)
- Larynx (Squamous cell carcinoma)
- Throat (Squamous cell carcinoma)
- Cervix (Squamous cell carcinoma)
What is passive smoking?
It is the negative health effect of the smoke coming out from cigarette between puffs. That has been found to cause higher risk of lung cancers , predisposition for lung infections, asthma and chronic bronchitis . It has also showed increased risk for heart diseases including heart attack.
How can I quit smoking?
The Answer to that is never too late .it is important to plan a date to quit and develop strong will to do that by that planned date. It is important to think of the benefit both economical and health benefits.
There are many things that can help the will power to achieve that goal , including medications, hypnotherapy , acupuncture and many others, you need to peak to your doctor to suggest the best modalities to help you quitting.