Published on October 26th, 2012 | by James0
How Smoking Affects The Body: 5 Issues To Understand
In order to comprehend how smoking affects the body, it is initially vital to understand tobacco smoke and its components. Basically, tobacco smoke represents a mixture of gases as well as particulate matter of water, nicotine, and tar among others. Tar is a mixture of numerous toxic compounds that can have tremendous effects on human health and can result in cancer among others. Benzpyrene and nitrosamines are just some of the toxic components that are found in cigarette smoke.
Other harmful gases that have been found in tobacco smoke include nitrogen oxides, ammonia, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, and acrolein among others. When subjected to high temperatures, the burning end of the tobacco cigarette becomes a miniature chemical factory populating the immediate environment with poisonous gases.
Components found in unlit cigarettes become more dangerous and result in over 4,000 harmful chemical compounds in tobacco smoke. Some issues that surround how smoking affects the body include:
Premature deaths attributed to diseases
Many health experts have revealed that smoking remains one of the primary causes for the proliferation of premature deaths caused by illnesses, which remain incurable by far. However, many of these causes of premature deaths are widely preventable if people choose to refrain from smoking. This is the reason why it is important to understand how smoking affects the body and causes the early onset of:
- Cancer – one of the most common results of smoking, it is widely believed that it is responsible for about 30% of the overall cancer deaths as well as 87% of deaths caused by lung cancer yearly.
- Lung conditions – 82% of deaths caused by chronic bronchitis and emphysema are attributed to smoking. By far, majority of the cases are linked to smoking alone.
- Heart disease – approximately 30% of all heart attacks including cardiovascular deaths in the country have been linked to smoking. Considering the prevalence of deaths resulting from this condition, this percentage reflects on a huge part of the population.
The process of degrading the body
Basically, it is quite easy to comprehend why many of the cancers that are experienced by smokers are in areas where the components come in direct contact with the human body like the lungs, throat, and mouth for example. It is equally important to understand though that some of the chemicals that are known to cause cancer are introduced in the bloodstream causing them to be transported to other parts of the human body.
This is why smoking has been linked to cancer of the uterus, pancreas, bladder, and kidney. In a way, the entire process of how smoking degrades the human body can be quite complex. Normally, it follows these steps:
- Once it has been absorbed in the lungs, the carbon monoxide begins to mix with the hemoglobin of the red blood cells, resulting in the reduction of the amount of oxygen that circulates the body.
- The cholesterol deposits in the inner lining of the arteries are accelerated by the nicotine and carbon monoxide content of cigarette smoke. This results in arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening and furring of the arteries reducing blood flow.
- Blood clotting is also experienced by many smokers that results in episodes of thrombosis, while increasing the need for oxygen by the heart because of the stimulating effect of the nicotine affecting the rate and force of contractions.
- The lack of oxygen flow damages the heart resulting in increased risk of heart attacks.
- Nicotine has been identified as capable of upsetting regular heartbeat.
Smoking can aggravate certain conditions
In an attempt to understand how smoking affects the body, it is equally important to consider that there are some conditions that are worsen, although not necessarily fatal, but can increase the suffering of those afflicted by them. Some of the conditions that can be negatively affected by smoking can include:
- The process of healing for peptic ulcers of the duodenum and the stomach can be greatly delayed by smoking.
- Chronic pains in the legs or a condition known as claudication can result in amputations and gangrene because of the clogging of the blood vessels.
- The skin becomes wrinkled because smoking has a negative effect on the elastic tissue of the face. Smokers can look at least five years older than non-smokers.
- Women smokers can also experience menopause at least five years earlier.
- Can greatly reduce the level of fertility of women thereby delaying conception even after stopping the use of oral contraceptives.
- Middle-aged and older men can experience problems with erection and have decreased sperm quality. The sperm can become sedated impairing their mobility.
- Osteoporosis becomes extremely pronounced as the bones fracture and become weakened easily.
- Risks of miscarriage, damage to unborn children, birth defects, death of babies, and premature birth are other negative impacts of smoking especially on women.
Effects on pregnant mothers
It is important to be aware that aside from the aforementioned risks associated with pregnant mothers, there are other considerations on how smoking affects the body. More importantly, there is a direct effect on the baby in the womb.
- Growth and development can be impaired. Birth weight can be reduced by half a pound on the average, which can be crucial for those born underweight.
- Brain development can be directly affected. Normally, those born to smoking mothers are at least a year behind in skills development in the areas of numerical and reading ability. This can be critical for those with borderline learning disabilities.
- Hyperactivity and behavioral problems are also commonly observed with those born of smoking mothers.
- During the initial years of their lives, these babies become extremely vulnerable to passive smoking and can lead to worse conditions like ear infections, asthma, colds, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Changes that can happen after quitting
When the drive to quit smoking becomes overpowering, there are certain conditions that can be expected. For example, during the first 48 hours, many previous smokers have been observed to:
- Have lower blood pressure
- Decreased pulse rate
- Increased temperature of the hands and feet
- Normalized carbon monoxide level in the blood
- Increased oxygen level in the blood
- Decreased chances of heart attacks
- Nerve endings begin to grow back
- Increased sensory of taste and smell
Normally, those who have successfully stopped smoking for a year have increased blood circulation and better lung function. Being aware of how smoking affects the body can help smokers make an educated decision on the practicality of quitting or subscribing to healthier alternatives brought about by technology like electronic cigarettes.
The video clip here helps explain the cigarette manufacturing process – which takes raw organic tobacco and through all sorts of nasty processes creates a more enjoyable, smooth and appealing experience through not so nice to put it mildly chemical processes.
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