Does smoking damage my health?
Around 50% of smokers will die from smoking-related diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, arterial disease, chronic lung disease and cancer of the bladder, stomach, mouth and throat. Smokers’ skin ages more quickly, they get indigestion and ulcers while their partners get lung cancer through passive smoking. However, here are the details of three particularly unpleasant and threatening conditions:
Lung cancer is probably the best known harmful effect of smoking but there are other forms including mouth, lip, and throat cancer. For those of you who don’t know, cancer is abnormal cell growth and can develop for a wide variety of reasons, smoking being one of the main triggers. Normal cells have certain limits to their growth, but cancerous cells continue to grow without controls, eventually causing serious and life-threatening damage to body tissues and organs.
Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in middle-aged men in Western countries, and the risk to a young man who smokes over 20 cigarettes a day is about three times that of a non-smoker. Chemicals contained in cigarettes enter the bloodstream through the lungs and encourage the build-up of fatty deposits. These deposits narrow or block the arteries supplying blood to the heart, which has increasing difficulty in pumping blood.
Eventually, you feel like shite as the heart struggles to do its job. Sometimes it stops and that’s it: a heart attack. If that wasn’t enough, the deposits also damage arteries in other parts of the body including the brain (which can result in a stroke) and the legs which, in severe cases, can lead to amputation.
Inhaling cigarette smoke damages the lungs and can severely reduce their capacity to function properly. Firstly, it irritates the passageways to the lungs which narrow, produce mucous and are more susceptible to infections. Secondly, the lungs are covered with millions of little sacs (alveoli) which are responsible for passing oxygen into the bloodstream and ridding the body of carbon dioxide. Smoke inflames the alveoli causing the lungs to become less elastic and efficient.
Once carbon monoxide passes from the lungs into the bloodstream – where it competes with oxygen – it combines with the blood and interferes with oxygenation of tissues. In the short term, this leads to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and recurrent chest infections. In the long term, persistently high levels of carbon monoxide in the blood lead to a hardening of the arteries which, in turn, greatly increases the risk of a heart attack.
Passive or secondary smoking
Passive or secondary smoking is breathing in air contaminated with others’ cigarette smoke. There is an increasing body of evidence that those in the vicinity of smokers (eg barmen) are at an increased risk of developing tobacco-related disorders, such as heart and circulatory diseases, bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer. They also suffer from considerable immediate discomfort from eye irritation, sore throats, coughs, headaches, asthma and other allergic reactions, increased heart rate and breathing difficulties. Just thought we’d tell you.↑ Back to top