The pleasures of smoking last only a few minutes, but leads to serious problems throughout life. You can eat five portions of fruit or veg a day and exercise regularly – but healthy behaviour means little if you continue to smoke. The diseases caused by smoking harm almost every organ in the body; some fatal and others that will not kill you but will leave you with a poorer quality of life.
Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals and many of them are very harmful. However, the two main poisons in tobacco smoke include:
- Carbon monoxide- Fatal in large doses, this poisonous gas takes the place of oxygen in your blood, starving your lungs, heart, and other organs of the oxygen they need to function properly.
- Tar- This sticky brown substance irritates your lungs, increasing the amount of mucus in your chest and restricting your breathing.
Here are different diseases caused by smoking and why you should quit smoking immediately.
1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD makes it difficult to breathe. This condition causes long-term disability and leads to early death. COPD is the third-leading cause of deaths in the United States.
Typical signs and symptoms of COPD are: increased loss of breath when active, frequent chest infections and persistent coughs with phlegm. Even though the early symptoms of COPD are often laid off as ‘smoker’s cough’, people who continue smoking worsen this condition, and this greatly impacts the quality of life.
2. Chronic Bronchitis
Smoking can cause the airways to be inflamed leading to chronic coughing which can be seen in many heavy smokers. Chronic Bronchitis is a disease where the airways secrete abnormally high amount of mucous compelling the person to cough it out. It is characterised by incessant coughing that eventually blocks airways with mucus and scar tissue leading to lung infections. While quitting smoking can help keep the symptoms under control, chronic bronchitis cannot be reversed.
Emphysema causes abnormal swelling and loss of elasticity in the lungs. Breathing becomes a continuous agonizing struggle. And there’s little hope for a significant recovery once diagnosed. Lung tissue once destroyed by emphysema can never be replaced, turning its victims into respiratory cripples, who spend agonizing years gasping for breath.
Smoking promotes atherosclerosis, a disease of the blood vessels which begins with damage to the inner lining of the artery wall. As the body works to heal this damage, hard plaques are formed, causing the arteries to harden and narrow. The progression of atherosclerosis increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, peripheral artery disease, aortic aneurysm, dementia in older adults and sudden death.
This is something of a no-brainer, but cancer was responsible for 164,200, or 37%, of the total deaths attributable to cigarette smoking. Of the attributed smoking deaths associated with cancer, none is more virulent than lung cancer which singlehandedly claimed an average of 128,900 lives annually between 2000 and 2004. The risk of contracting lung cancer by smoking cigarettes increases by a factor of 23 for men and 13 for women relative to non-smokers.
The more the number of times you smoke in a day, and the longer you’ve smoked, the higher the risk of lung cancer. Similarly, the risk rises the deeper you inhale and the earlier in life you started smoking. For ex-smokers, it takes approximately 15 years before the risk of lung cancer drops to the same as that of non-smokers.
Not only does smoking increase the risk for lung cancer, it’s also a risk factor for cancers of the Mouth, Larynx (voice box), Pharynx (throat), Esophagus (swallowing tube), Kidney, Cervix, Liver, Bladder, Pancreas, Stomach and colon/rectum. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and spit and other types of smokeless tobacco all cause cancer. There is no safe way to use tobacco.
6. Liver Disease
Your liver is responsible for processing and removing toxins in the body, and this includes the toxins that you inhale when you smoke a cigarette. Studies on smokers show that smoking greatly reduces your liver’s ability to effectively process and excrete toxins, and that smokers with liver disease usually need very high doses of medication if they are to survive. Severe liver disease can eventually lead to liver failure and death.
7. Hip Fractures
Smokers lose bone density at a faster rate than non-smokers which puts you at risk for breaking body parts like your hip. Putting down the cigarettes can aid slow down this process and keep you breaking a sweat, not your bones, on the dance floor.
Smoking in pregnancy greatly increases the likelihood of miscarriage, is associated with lower birth weight in babies, and inhibited child development.
If you continue smoking for long, chances of losing your fertility are higher. Cigarettes contain nicotine, which affects fertility in both men and women. This has been proven by several medical experts from around the globe. Also, it may cause erectile dysfunction in males around their 30’s, and therefore it is better to quit smoking in time.
10. Eye defects
Smoking negatively impacts your eye health. People who smoke have twice the likelihood of acquiring cataracts and are two to three times at a risk of developing AMD or age-related macular degeneration which can cause vision loss and blindness than people who do not smoke.
Smoking is proved to link with irritation and inflammation of stomach and intestines which can result in painful ulcers formation within the digestive system. In some, smoking causes a severe digestive problem known as reflux of acids which happens because nicotine in tobacco weakens the muscles of the gut causing the acid from stomach to move in wrong and opposite directions causing the imbalance in overall digestive system of the body.
Now, you know why you should quit smoking immediately.
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