Smoking can increase the risk of several serious diseases, including chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer. Regular smokers are more prone to develop these health problems over a period of time. Find out more information about the harmful effects of smoking, in this HealthHearty article.
Tobacco or cigarette smoke contains a number of toxic substances that adversely affect various parts of the body. Smoking (both active and passive smoking) is considered one of the most important risk factors for heart attacks, strokes, and lung diseases, like chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
The Perils of Smoking Cigarettes
Cigarette smoke typically contains about 4000 chemicals, of which the most dangerous chemicals are, nicotine, carbon monoxide, arsenic, nitrous oxides, phenols, acetone, acetylene, cyanide, formaldehyde, ammonia, methanol, and strychnine. Many of the substances found in cigarette smoke are carcinogenic, and they can bind with DNA to cause genetic mutations.
The tar or the suspended particles found in cigarette smoke form a sticky coating in the lung tissues, which can cause lung diseases and cancer over a period of time. The harmful effects of smoking are however, not limited to the lungs. Regular smoking can affect other organs of the body as well.
The carbon monoxide found in cigarette smoke binds with hemoglobin, and adversely affect the transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body, including the brain and the heart. Smoking can increase the risk of atherosclerosis, where fatty deposits build up within the arterial wall, and cause narrowing of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a major risk factor for heart and cardiovascular diseases.
One of the immediate effects of smoking is an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can strain the heart and the blood vessels. The levels of antioxidants in smokers are usually low, as compared to non-smokers. Antioxidants are required to protect the body cells and tissues from the damaging effects of the free radicals.
The long-term health risks associated with smoking are, impotence or infertility in both men and women, chronic cough, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer of the lung. Apart from lung cancer, regular smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and many other organs of the body. Smoking can compromise the normal immune functions as well.
Smoking During Pregnancy
Cigarette smoking can spell trouble for pregnant women and the unborn fetus. The risks of ectopic pregnancy, placental problems, such as placental abruption and placenta previa, and vaginal bleeding can increase in pregnant women who smoke regularly. The nicotine found in cigarette smoke can constrict the blood vessels of the umbilical cord, which can reduce the supply of oxygen to the fetus.
The risk of miscarriages can also increase due to smoking. Stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and cleft lip or cleft palate can be some other possible health risks associated with smoking during pregnancy. On the other hand, the risk of ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ (SIDS) can increase considerably in babies exposed to secondhand smoke.
Dangers of Smoking Weed
Smoking weed or marijuana is a highly controversial subject, with some people supporting its use claiming that weed is non-addictive, while others highlighting the harmful effects of weed on the brain and other parts of the body. People who support the use of weed claim that it has several medicinal properties. For example, it can manage the pain associated with cancer, and relieve the eye pressure to treat glaucoma. It is also claimed to be effective in killing brain tumor cells. As far as the negative effects are concerned, weed is said to alter perception, and adversely affect memory.
Though the consequences of smoking are widely known, people find it quite difficult to quit smoking, as they experience a number of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. But you can always take the help of counseling to cope with these withdrawal symptoms. By quitting smoking, you can lower the risk of a number of diseases, and thus lead a healthy life.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.