Smoking has both, short- and long-term effects. Short-term effects are easy to notice; thus, precautions can be taken immediately. However, long-term effects develop over time, and you notice a problem when it’s too late. Let’s see how we can tackle these.
We all know the dangers of smoking and why we are advised not to smoke. However, most of us don’t take the advice seriously. We all misjudge the intensity of this addiction. Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits or addictions you can get hooked to. Another misconception I would like to clear is that if you smoke less, it doesn’t lessen the dangers. You are still smoking something that is highly dangerous. Before we move on directly to the effects, let’s first understand what exactly we’re dealing with.
Inside the Evil
Tar: Tar particles contain chemicals that are very dangerous. One of the main chemicals is carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene, that is said to trigger the development of tumors. Brown in color and sticky in appearance, it stains teeth, lung tissues, and fingernails even.
Hydrogen Cyanide: The dangers of this chemical are more severe than we think. Hydrogen cyanide is a toxic substance present in cigarette smoke. Not only smokers, but non-smokers are also at a risk of breathing this poisonous gas when they are exposed to cigarette smoke.
Carbon Monoxide: We all know that red blood cells contain hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that helps in transporting oxygen to the various parts of the body. When a person smokes, carbon monoxide present in the cigarette combines with hemoglobin, and blocks the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the body cells. Eventually, less oxygen is transported to the body.
Free Radicals: These are responsible for heart problems and cholesterol issues. Radicals are reactive chemicals, which react with cholesterol to build fatty materials on the walls of the arteries.
Other chemicals present in cigarettes are metals such as cadmium, lead, and arsenic. These metals are dangerous and most of them are carcinogenic. Cigarette also contains radioactive compounds such as polonium 210 and potassium 40. These compounds are also carcinogenic like the metals.
Our tissues have cross-linked bonds that hold them together. Acetaldehyde―a chemical present in cigarette smoke―affects these bonds, leading to the skin’s aging. We require elastin and collagen (for the synthesis of which we need vitamin C) to keep our skin firm. Cigarette smoke reduces the vitamin C in our body, thus increasing the breakdown pace of elastin and collagen. Smoking also reduces the flow of blood to your skin by restricting the blood vessels, and also deprives your skin of other important nutrients and oxygen. Studies have shown that 30 cigarettes a day is equal to nearly 300 chest x-rays a year.
Another long-term effect of smoking is impotence. However, not every smoker has a risk of being impotent, though the chances are higher in habitual smokers. As many as 30 million Americans suffer from this. Certain chemicals present in the cigarette, block the arteries, which lead to insufficient flow of blood to the pelvic region. The blood flow to the penile region is reduced to an extent that it can either be acute or at times, chronic.
Effect on the Fetus
Smoking is a dangerous habit but it is more so when you’re an expecting mother. If you continue smoking throughout your pregnancy, believe it or not, your baby is going to suffer from withdrawal symptoms after birth. Smoking regulates the flow of more than 200 neurochemicals to your baby’s body and mind. Smoking can damage the baby’s nervous system too. All these can affect your baby’s growth and development. It’s best to refrain from smoking completely when you are pregnant, for the sake of your own health and your baby’s.
(COPD) includes both: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In case of emphysema, walls present in between our lung’s sac’s, either break down or deteriorate. As a result, the air sacs expand or grow abnormally in size. Elasticity of lung tissues is also affected. Contraction and expansion of lungs becomes a task and slowly, the patient becomes weaker. Some lung diseases are tuberculosis, lung cancer, sarcoidosis, and occupation-related lung diseases.
Cigarette smoke contains free radicals which react with cholesterol and cause a build up of substances on the walls of arteries. Another effect on the heart is that these radicals reduce the HDL in our body. This leads to improper flow of blood to the various parts of the body, especially the heart. When there is not enough blood flow to the heart, there are chances of a heart attack, which is medically known as myocardial infarction. Cigarette smoking also increases the risk of blood clots to a great extent. Other effects of smoking include chest pain (angina) and stroke, which are caused due to the blockage of arteries.
We all know that certain chemicals present in a cigarette are carcinogenic (cancer-causing agents). Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer, are a result of smoking. Smoking also increases the chances of other cancers such as those of mouth, larynx, nose, pharynx, kidney, bladder, stomach, pancreas, liver, cervix, etc. There are also some types of leukemia that are caused due to smoking.
Sincere efforts are needed to get rid of this habit that might lead to many health issues in the long run. There are various ways in which you can motivate yourself to quit and I hope this article in a way, did the same. So, nip this habit in the bud and lead a healthy life.