Smoking has very serious health hazards, yet it is a habit that has refused to leave mankind. The health effects of tobacco smoke is due to its six major constituents:- nicotine, carbon monoxide, arsenic, lead, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and tar.
Smoking remains the most important preventable cause of illness and death, the estimated number of deaths per annum from smoking is over 6 million with more of this occurring in the developed world, more men die from smoking than women.
Smokers die about 10 years earlier than never-smokers; they have twice the risk of heart disease, 10 times the risk of lung cancer, several times the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, cervix, kidney and bladder.
The following health problems also occur more in smokers:-stroke, peptic ulcers, fractures and cataract.
Nicotine, one of the major constituents of cigarette smoke is highly addictive and produces withdrawal symptoms if discontinued. This is what makes it difficult for smokers to quit.
1. Smoking increases risk of cancers.
Smoking is associated with several cancers such as cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast, colon, and prostate. Two substances are said to responsible for this:-tar and Nicotine. It is the same tar that discolours the teeth; the material that gives the dark colour to smoke.
2. Smoking increases risk of high blood pressure
Nicotine contained in cigarette smoke is said to make the lining of blood vessels more sticky and hence encourages formation of plaque and hardening of the walls of the blood vessels and also narrowing of their inside. When the blood vessels are narrowed it becomes more difficult for the heart to pump blood through them. This leads to increase in blood pressure.
Nicotine also makes the heart beat faster
3. It quickens narrowing of blood vessels.
Cigarette smoke narrows and hardens blood vessels; this reduces blood supply including oxygen to various parts of the body including the heart.
When blood supply to the heart is reduced, the part of the heart muscle affected dies. If the feet or hands are affected, it could result in amputation.
4. It increases risk of prematurity, abortions, low birth weight.
Children of smokers are more likely to be, born premature, of low birth weight and mentally retarded. They also have more frequent chest infections and ear infections than those of non-smokers. Children of Smokers are also more likely to be smokers.
Finally female smokers are more prone to abortions.
5. Smoking worsens complications of diabetes.
It is more difficult to treat diabetes in smokers and the complications of diabetes especially that of narrowing and thickening of blood vessels is made worse by smoking.
6. It reduces the oxygen level in the blood.
One of the constituents of smoke, carbon monoxide, decreases the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to different parts of the body including the brain. This could lead to the death of the part affected, in case of the feet and hand, amputation could follow.
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7. Smoking shortens life by about 10 years.
Owing to the various health problems associated with smoking, smokers die earlier than non-smokers by about 10 years.