Statistically, 18 out of every 100 adult people in US smoke. This means that about 42 million people in the US are smokers. A more shocking fact is that nearly 480,000 people die every year from smoking or 1,300 deaths per day.If this smoking rate keeps increasing, until 2030 about 8 million people are expected to die.
History of Cigarette Smoking
Smokers claim that smoking promotes pleasing and calming emotions which boost their mood, reduces minor depression and anger, improves short-term memory and concentration and promotes a sense of overall well-being.
This is the result of the addictive substance nicotine which stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain which further promotes “pleasing sensations”.
Over time, the cells become immune to these pleasing sensations caused by smoking. So, you become even more addicted to increase your nicotine intake and provide these feelings. Regardless of these “pleasing feelings”, the act of smoking causes many devastating health effects.
You may think that e-cigarettes will make a difference, but you are definitely wrong. According to some researchers, e-cigarettes contain even more carcinogenic substances than the regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes produce a type of vapor high in acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, seriously dangerous toxins.
Although smoking makes you feel great for some period of time, gradually it kills your body and leads to higher risk of mortality.
The Side Effects of Smoking
As we have mentioned before, smoking not only harms your body organs but it can lead to some serious damage to your health. If you are still not convinced about the health risk of smoking, here are some of its side effects.
Short-Term Side Effects
Some of the less harming effects are that smokers usually have bad breath, smelly hair, clothes and yellow teeth.
Also, smoking can cause some premature wrinkles, rapid weight change as well as tooth and gum loss. You can also experience weakened immune system and stomach ulcers as a result of smoking.
Young people usually tend to smoke into their adulthood and thus impairing their growth and lung function. Also, teenagers who smoke are more prone to cocaine than those who do not.
A recent Australian study has shown that female smokers can have worse menstrual cramps than those who do not. This may be a result of the decreased amount of oxygen that comes to the uterus.
According to the researchers, women who have started smoking at the age of 13, have 59% higher risk of painful menstruation than those who have started at the age of 14 of 15.
Long-Term Side Effects
The first serious side effects may not be felt until years later. Once these symptoms appear, you know that the damage is already done. Here are some of the serious side effects of smoking:
1. Cardiovascular Problems
Smoking seriously affects the health of your heart and blood vessels. It seriously damages the proper functioning of the highly important body systems. Smoking doubles the risk of any heart diseases because it makes the heart blood vessels thicken and thinner.
In this way, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure is increased and your blood tends to clot. Such a clot obstructs the blood flow to your heart and the heart can’t get enough oxygen. When lacking oxygen, the heart muscles undergo serious damage and even stop working.
Also, smokers have a higher risk of atherosclerosis, a disease in which the plaque liquids accumulate in the arteries. Over time, the arteries narrow and harden and they can’t transfer the oxygen-filled blood to the other parts of the body.
When the plaque liquids accumulate in the coronary arteries, this can result in coronary heart disease. Further on, this can cause heart attack, chest pain, arrhythmias, heart failure and even death.
Smoking can lead to Peripheral Arterial Disease, a condition where the plaque accumulates in the blood vessels that deliver blood to the limbs, organs, and head. People who take birth control pills and have diabetes have the greatest risk of serious diseases to the blood vessels and the heart.
2. Higher Risk of Stroke
People who smoke have 2-4 times higher risk of stroke than those who do not smoke. This happens when a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain or when a brain artery explodes.
3. Respiratory Problems
There is a layer of internal mucus around our lungs in order to protect them from the substances we inhale and the small hairs called cilia wipe off these harmful contaminants.
However, in smokers, cilia can’t function in the proper manner because these hairs work at a slower rate. For this reason, you can’t sneeze, cough or swallow to eliminate these toxins from your body.
Smoking can trigger and even worsen the asthma attack. It can lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In emphysema, the lungs’ air sacs lose their elasticity and their condition worsen. In chronic bronchitis, there is a swelling in the linings of your lungs and this obstructs your breathing.
4. Pregnancy Complications
Women who smoke during their pregnancy have a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and stillbirth. Also, they may experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, orofacial clefts for the baby and ectopic pregnancy. These women are also prone to weaker bones after menopause.
Men who tend to smoke can experience erectile dysfunction, sperm defects, and poor sperm quality while women can have reduced fertility.
Cigarettes are loaded with more than 7,000 chemicals, some of which can cause cancer such as benzene, formaldehyde, vinyl chloride and polonium 210.
Unfortunately, smoking can be the main reason of some cancers, not just in the lungs but in other areas in your body. They include cervix colon, rectum, bladder blood, larynx, oropharynx, liver, stomach, pancreas, bronchus, trachea, esophagus kidney and lung cancer.
The Radioactive Chemical in Fertilizers Can Cause Lung Cancer
While still in the fields, tobacco is treated with various harmful pesticides. These substances are also contained in cigarettes which your body accumulates through smoking.
One particular substance is the root cause of cancer among. It’s polonium-210, a substance that comes from calcium phosphate fertilizer, a widely-used tobacco pesticide. When this substance decomposes, it releases alpha particles which can damage the human cells with which they come in contact with.
According to a research, the radiation emitted from these fertilizers causes the main lung damage. It also found that polonium caused cancer in laboratory animals.
In 2009, a study has found that the radiation that you get from 1 1/2 cigarette pack is equivalent to 300 chest x-ray films per year.
According to a report by Nicotine and Tobacco Research in 2011, the tobacco industry is familiar with the danger caused by these radioactive chemicals.
It was also reported that acid wash was an effective solution for elimination of polonium-210 from the tobacco leaves. However, the industry avoided the use of this natural solution because it will reduce the pleasurable feeling of nicotine to smokers.
What Happens If You Stop Smoking?
The decision to quit smoking requires patience and determination that will affect you both mentally and physically. So, just after you quit smoking, you will provide many health benefits for your body.
How to Quit Smoking?
It might be difficult for you to quit smoking but the following tips will help you a lot:
Choose the “Quit Day”. Choose one day which is usually not stressful for you so that you can be prepared. For example, it can be your anniversary, your birthday of just any other day.
Don’t Quit Alone. If you tell somebody that you are about to quit smoking, you can get an important support that can stimulate your withdrawal even more.
Nicotine Replacement Options. One such option is the Nicotine Replacement Therapy that can help you overcome the symptoms of withdrawal. This option is safe for all smokers, except for people with heart diseases and pregnant women.
The FDA approved 5 forms of nicotine replacement therapy such as gum, patch, inhalers, nasal spray, and lozenges. Before you try any of these options, make sure you consult your doctor to choose the most suitable option for you.
Keep a Journal. In this way, you will track all the situations that have pushed your down or have helped you to quit smoking.
Discover Your Triggers. Before you quit smoking, make a list of all the things that you have done that involve smoking. These things will help you deal with these things more easily.
Change the way What, When, Where and How You Smoke. Altering these habits will help a lot in your attempt to quit.
Wash and throw away all the things that remind you of smoking.
Get the Needed Support. Former smokers, clinics specialized in smoking withdrawals can help you in your attempt.
Quit Day. Identify what triggers you to smoke.
Do It. Although hard, it is worth doing it.