Health Effects of Smoking
Did you know that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the country?
In fact, more than one in five deaths in the United States are contributed to tobacco use. It is so powerful and dangerous that it affects almost every part of the human body.
When you smoke, your pulse quickens, causing your heart to beat an extra 10-25 times per minute, or as many as 36,000 additional times a day. This forces the heart to work harder and can double the risk of a heart attack. Cigarette smoking is directly responsible for at least 20% of all deaths from heart disease; it lowers "good" cholesterol levels, causes deterioration of elastic properties in the aorta and increases the risk for blood clots.
Cigarette smoke attacks the lungs' natural defenses and can completely paralyze the natural cleansing process. Excess mucus in the lungs will make you more susceptible to colds, flu, bronchitis and other respiratory infections. Continued exposure can lead to lung cancer and lung diseases, including pneumonia and emphysema. Smoking causes 90% of lung cancer in men and 80% in women.
Lung cancer is just one of the serious health risks caused by smoking. Smokers are also susceptible to cancers of the larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, and possibly breast, according to new research.
Smokers have a much higher risk of developing two major sight-threatening conditions. Macular degeneration can occur when the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of the eye, becomes scarred, inhibiting the central central vision. Research has shown that smokers are about three times more likely to develop cataracts, a gradual thickening that develops in the lens of the eye. Smoke can also cause serious irritation for those who wear soft contact lenses.
Nose & Throat
Irritating gases in cigarette smoke, such as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and others, can cause serious irritation to the sensitive membranes in the nose and throat. The results: a runny nose and the proverbial smoker's cough. Continued exposure can produce abnormal thickening in the throat lining, a condition, when accompanied with cellular changes, that has been linked to throat cancer.
Stained yellow teeth, bad breath and an acute loss in the sense of taste are just some of the less serious consequences of smoking. Smoking as well as the use of spit tobacco or "chew" can also contribute to cancer of the lips, gums and throat.
Smoker's have what is called a "smoker's face." Characterized by a grayish appearance of the skin and deep lines around the corners of the eyes and mouth, smoker's face is caused by a lack of oxygen to the skin. These conditions occur because smoking constricts the blood vessels in the skin, making it more susceptible to wrinkling.
Male Reproductive System
The negative effects of smoking on the blood vessels leading to the male reproductive organs may mean men can experience erectile dysfunction or even impotency. Smoking can also affect fertility by decreasing sperm count and mobility. In fact, smokers are 50% more likely to become impotent.
Female Reproductive System
Cigarette smoking increases the risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Smokers have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that involves bone thinning. The loss of bone tissue, more prevalent among women, can result in an increase of bone fractures.
The carbon monoxide inhaled with each drag on a cigarette can stay in the bloodstream for up to six hours and the levels are four times higher than normal. Once in the bloodstream, it begins attacking the red blood cells, virtually replacing the oxygen your body needs to function. The process means less oxygen is available to the brain and other vital organs.
Smokers are at greater risk of developing peptic ulcers, Crohn's disease and gallstones and can experience chronic heartburn. Smoking also affects the way the liver operates, particularly in terms of how it processes alcohol.