Health Effects of Smoking: Is the High You Get Worth It?

Health effects of smoking

One person dies every 6 seconds due to tobacco use and almost half the current users will die eventually of a tobacco-related disease. Neither startling statistics like these nor graphic public interest videos screened in movie halls have the impact intended. What could work, if you are looking to quit smoking or understand its ill-effects, is awareness on how much better your health can get without the risks associated with tobacco use.

Types of Tobacco Products

Cigarettes are not the only tobacco products, although possibly the most widely used ones. There’s smokeless tobacco products too such as chewable tobacco (a practice that is highly common in rural areas) and snuff (can be sniffed if dried, or used moist). Other common tobacco products include bidi, cigar, hookah/sheesha, kreteks or clove cigarettes, and the most recent addition, electronic cigarettes. All these products present pretty much the same level of risk, while the only thing that differs is the mode of delivery of nicotine and carcinogens.

Diseases Associated with Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is a major contributing factor for non-communicable diseases that are a leading cause of deaths:

Cancer risks: Tobacco is closely linked to cancer of the oral cavity, nasal cavity, respiratory tract, lung, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, liver, kidney, urinary bladder, and cervix. Smokeless tobacco is a leading cause of cancer of the oral cavity.

Cardiovascular disease risks: Smoking or other use of tobacco products along with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. It also affects the coronary vessels of the heart, which causes decreased blood supply to heart muscles. Use of tobacco can also contribute to strokes as tobacco constricts blood vessels in the brain.

Respiratory ailment risks: Tobacco use can affect respiratory wellness by contributing towards chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) like chronic bronchitis and emphysema; asthma, and; tuberculosis.

Other health risk factors: There are several other health conditions that can worsen with tobacco use, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, eye disease, dental disease, and erectile dysfunction. Smoking during pregnancy carries several risks including abnormalities of the placenta, miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth, and further negative health outcomes in the infant after birth.

The Feel-Good Factor behind Smoking

It all comes down to the composition of tobacco. Tobacco products contain anywhere between 5000 – 6000 toxic substances. Among these, the substances that cause the most damage to your system are nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar.

Nicotine facilitates the behavioural effects of tobacco, and is a contributing factor for addiction. Once it’s absorbed into the system, its effect on the mood is quick only because it travels rapidly to the brain. It further binds to the receptors in the brain, consequently influencing cerebral metabolism. It is also distributed to the rest of the body, especially the skeletal muscles.

The effect of carbon monoxide is much more apparent – it diminishes the amount of oxygen the blood can carry, causing shortness of breath. Tar, as is its property, leaves a sticky residue that contains benzopyrene, which is among the most deadly cancer-causing agents.

There are plenty of other substances as well that tobacco users expose themselves to: carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, volatile hydrocarbons, volatile nitrosamines, volatile sulfur compounds, ketones, and aldehydes – all of them known cancer agents.

Think it’s time to quit smoking and using tobacco products? Let us help you with a few best practices. Read more here.

Want to check the effect of smoking on your system? Opt for cancer
screening health checks that let you know where you stand.

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