Health Risks in Smoking

Most people are fully aware that smoking can lead to lung cancer, but in fact the health risks in smoking are much further reaching.

 Cancer of the lungs is only one of the risks run by smokers. Smoking is a high risk factor for several kinds of cancer including mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, bladder, cervix and stomach as well as some types of leukemia.

As well as cancer, smoking can cause other lung diseases as in pneumonia, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases which come under the term of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD can cause chronic illness and disabilities and can also be fatal. Long-term smokers carry the highest risk of COPDs

 Vascular disease: narrowing or clogging of blood vessels can lead to all kinds of problems.  Peripheral vascular disease affects blood vessels feeding the leg and arm muscles.

Problems in the blood vessels feeding the heart can lead to heart disease and heart attacks, and blocked vessels to the brain can cause a stroke. Men who smoke can find blood vessel disease will cause erectile dysfunction.

 Eyesight can be affected by smoking: health risks in smoking include increased risk of macular degeneration, sometimes leading to blindness. Also premature ageing and wrinkling of the skin, halitosis or bad breath, tooth and gum disease, yellowing and brittle fingernails, not to mention revolting smelling hair and clothes.

 Expectant or nursing mothers have some unique health risks in smoking, to themselves as well as the new life they are carrying. Women (particularly over 35) who smoke and also take oral contraceptives have a very high risk of heart attack, stroke and thrombosis. Smoking carries a high risk of miscarriage or babies born underweight; which are more likely to have physical problems, learning difficulties or even risk of death. Nicotine can be passed into breast milk as well as cervical fluids, amniotic fluids and umbilical cord.

 One of the main health risks in smoking is a shortening of life expectancy: the CDC estimates an adult male will lose an average of 13.2 years of life and females 14.5 years, due to smoking. Add to that the risk of diseases during their lifetime which can impair the quality of life long before that. Even without contracting a disease, smoker’s activities are limited by difficulties in breathing and moving around, both at work and play.

 The health benefits in quitting are more than just decreasing the health risks in smoking:

Just 20 minutes after quitting your blood pressure will drop and your heart rate decrease

2 hours afterwards the carbon monoxide level in the blood returns to normal

Between two weeks and three months after quitting, blood circulation will improve and lung function increase.

Anywhere between one and nine months after quitting you will notice a marked decrease in coughing and shortness of breath. Lungs will start to regain their normal cilia function (these are hair-fine elements in the lungs that dispel mucus) and increase their ability to handle mucus and reduce risk of infection. The lungs will begin to be cleansed from the inside.

After the first year of not smoking, you have reduced the risk of ordinary heart disease by half, compared to a smoker.

Five years on, your risk of stroke is reduced dramatically, and between 5-15 years the risk will be the same as that of a non-smoker.

After 10 years the death rate from lung cancer is reduced by half, compared to a continuing smoker.

 Apart from the health risks in smoking, what about the money you spend? Look at the price you spend a day on cigarettes and multiply that by 365. Wow! How much do you spend in a year! Multiply it by 10, and think what you could have done with all that money instead of burning it over 10 years!

All this cost, along with the health risks in smoking must surely give you reason to quit. Find yourself a quit smoking plan and start it right away!


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