Nowadays it is no news to anyone that the habit of smoking tobacco cigarettes or cigars promote a series of health related risks, both for smokers and for the people surrounding them. But do we actually know in reality what are the dangers associated with tobacco smoking? In this article we will try to elucidate any questions and, hopefully, assist any reader in the breaking of such a dangerous addiction such as this one.
A cigarette is composed of more than 4000 chemical substances, many of them toxic and noxious for human health. Perhaps the most recognizable of them all is the infamous Nicotine, for it is directly associated with the physical and psychological need of the smoker addiction. When it is inhaled in a cloud of smoke, a great deal of this substance is immediately absorbed by the blood stream, due to the inefficiency of our lungs to properly filter it.
We know today of more than 40 carcinogenic substances and more than 400 other toxins commonly present in materials such as varnish and rat poison. While it is logical that only trace amounts of these substances are found in each individual cigarette, when there is an habit of regular smoking they are expected to pile up in our organism, causing serious health problems to our bodies. Due to this high exposure to toxic substances, it is estimated that smokers can count with less 10 to 15 years of life expectancy than non-smokers.
From all the health problems associated with smoking, cancer is possibly the most common disease, being estimated a relation of 30% with all terminal cancers. It is, however, in our lungs that this disease most frequently manifests itself, being estimated a relation of 90% with all lung cancers. But it is not only in the lungs that these substances may originate cancers. We can relate the habit of regular smoking tobacco with cancers in the mouth, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidneys, blather and stomach.
The lungs are with no doubt the organs most affected by tobacco smoking, originating potentially fatal diseases such as emphysemas and bronchitis (75% of all fatalities from these diseases are related with tobacco smoking), but the heart also suffer a great deal with this habit too. Tobacco is one of the primary causes of cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and myocardial infarction. To note still are the associated risks of developing osteoporosis or joint problems, and sexual and reproductive problems both for men (erectile dysfunction) and for women (infertility). Tobacco also affects the blood stream which, in turn, results in a poor nutrient distribution to the nerves, causing nerve damage (neuropathy).
One of the major problems with tobacco smoking is smoking during pregnancy. There is a recognizable increased level of probability for spontaneous abortion, bleeding and nauseas, even reduction in infant weight or premature birth. It is also acknowledged that the infants of smokers are more susceptible to the sudden death syndrome and to higher levels of health debilitation during their development.
Finally we find the so called passive smokers, that is, those that do not smoke but are affected by the proximity of the smoke exhaled by actual smokers. The health associated dangers for these individuals are the same as for a regular smoker, for them too build up levels of the toxic substances found in cigarettes. Children are the ones that suffer the most from such practices. Their internal organs, which are still under development, are most affected by these substances, resulting in a greater incidence of asthma, bronchitis, pneumonias, sudden death syndrome and ear infections.
It is acknowledged that each individual has a some what unique relation with their cigarettes. For this very reason each set of guidance and measures to quit smoking should be individualized and personalized. That can be achieved through a medical appointment, where the degree of dependency and the psychological and behavioural factors that can difficult the quitting process are evaluated. In some cases, it can even be necessary to resort to medication to relieve the urge for nicotine and for the cigarette. It is, however, important to point out that there are general proven measures to quit smoking, such as the regular physical activity or even the drawback from places and habits that promote the act of smoking.