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Effects of Smoking: The Ultimate Guide

The effects of smoking

We have compiled extensive resources on all of the potential effects of smoking. The purpose of this section is simply to remind smokers that while you may not see many negative effects from smoking right now, the future may not be as forgiving. We not only look at the many health effects brought on by smoking but other effects as well. From secondhand smoke to yellow teeth to lung cancer, if it is caused mainly by smoking, than you will find it on this page.

This section is for anyone that wants to learn more about the overarching side effects of smoking. Whether you use it as inspiration in your journey to quit, as information to learn more about an issue you or your loved one is having, or simply to learn more about the devastating effects of smoking cigarettes, this section is for you.

Tobacco – The Silent Killer

Here are some scary facts about smoking, some of which might surprise you:

  • Every year, more than 480,000 Americans die because of smoking tobacco – that’s nearly one in every five deaths
  • According to cancer.org, more than 6 million people die around the globe annually, with 30% dying from cancer and other diseases caused because of smoking side effects
  • Tobacco has caused more deaths in the US than all the American wars combined
  • According to a CDC fact sheet, more deaths are caused by tobacco every single year than combined deaths caused by illicit drug abuse, alcohol use, HIV, road accidents, and gunshots

Most people think that smoking affects your lungs only, but as a matter of fact, every major organ in your body bears the negative effects of tobacco when you smoke. However, the biggest weapon of tobacco is tar and other 7000+ chemicals that are produced when it burns. More than 70 chemicals found in tobacco are known to cause cancer. In addition to causing lung cancer, smoking can cause cancer in several other organs such as oral cavity, lips, bronchus, esophagus, larynx, stomach, pancreas, kidney, liver, nasal cavity, colon, rectum, and trachea.

What About Effects of Light and Menthol Cigarettes?

Well, there is no such thing as a less harmful cigarette, let alone a safe cigarette. Milds, lights, low-tar and menthols are nothing but a marketing strategy by the big tobacco companies to lure people into their net. Whether or not a mild or light cigarette has the same amount of tar and nicotine as a regular cigarette, but researches show that they are equally harmful.

As for menthol cigarette, while some people think they are less harmful, however, this isn’t true again. In fact, menthol cigarettes are considered more addictive than the non-menthol cigarettes, although more research is required on how and why addiction differs between menthol and regular cigarettes. Just like lights and menthols, cigars and pipes also carry same or similar risks.

Potential Health Effects of Smoking

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is without a doubt the worst health effect brought on by smoking. It is a life changing disease brought on by years of inhaling tar and ash. Whether you are facing the disease yourself or simply want to learn more about what it entails, check out this page.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

COPD is any disease or combination of diseases that causes airflow issues in the lungs. Commons symptoms are shortness of breath and extreme coughing. The main cause of COPD worldwide is, you guessed it, smoking.

Emphysema

Emphysema is actually classified under COPD. Emphysema isn't quite as well-known or feared as lung cancer, but it is an extremely serious and chronic condition that can also bring on huge changes in your life. Emphysema is strongly associated with smoking; the constant stream of smoke into the lungs causes the alveoli (the sacs in the lungs that facilitate the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide) to break down. This causes what they call "obstruction" in the lungs, which makes it very hard to breathe and is a major reason someone would have to be put on oxygen.

Cardiovascular Disease

In the face of issues like lung cancer and emphysema, many forget that smoking also greatly increases the chance of cardiovascular disease. Smoking causes general inflammation through the body, raises blood pressure, and is linked to atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial disease. Researchers know a lot but not everything about the link between smoking and the heart, but they are certain that there is a definite link between smoking and cardiovascular disease.

Increased Risk of Stroke

Strokes are also a serious concern for long time smokers, and for the same reasons mentioned above. Smoking causes the double danger of increased blood pressure and increased risk of blood clots. Those two factors combined make long time smokers much more prone to strokes than non-smokers.

Central Nervous System Disorders

When nicotine – the mood-altering chemical found in tobacco – reaches the brain, it instantly impacts the entire nervous system. This impact energizes the smoker for a short period of time, but when the impact goes away, the user feels exhausted and craves for more nicotine. This in the long run, can have severe effects on the entire nervous system.

Human body produces corticosterone, which is a stress hormone. It’s produced when you’re feeling down and anxious. While the hormone is released to keep your body balanced, it also lowers the impact of nicotine. For those who are addicted to nicotine have a hard time in getting their cravings fulfilled when they are under stress, and thus want higher amount of nicotine. This is why smokers smoke more than regular when they are strained. In the long run, the amount of nicotine required to fulfill the craving also goes up and can eventually disturb the optimal levels of corticosterone.

Skin, Hair, and Nails (Integumentary System) Problems

The most obvious effects of smoking can appear on your skin and teeth because the compounds found in tobacco have the capability of changing the structure of your skin. The effects usually appear in the form of wrinkles, discoloration, and other skin issues. Teeth of smokers develop yellow and brown stains because of continuous contact with smoke, which are extremely disgusting and even regular brushing doesn’t help. The structure of human hair makes them hold on to the smoke and smell of tobacco, and it can stay in there long after you smoked. This can result in Marie Antoinette Syndrome (sudden, premature whitening of the hair), dandruff, hair fall and other disorders.

Digestive System Disorders

From oral cavities to gum inflation to tooth decay to increase the risk of cancer of mouth, esophagus, larynx, and throat, smoking can result in any digestive system disorder. Smoking can also cause insulin resistance and increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Chemicals found in smoke also depress appetite and can even lead to loss of appetite.  In short, the whole digestive system of a smoker gets a continuous thrashing, and can eventually suffer severe consequences.

Sexuality and Reproductive System Disorders

Heavy smokers, both men and women, at best can have difficulty achieving orgasm and at worst can become completely infertile. In men, smoking can cause erectile dysfunction because of restricted or uneven blood flow while women may experience early menopause and can develop cervical cancer. Smoking women usually experience complications during pregnancy and their babies can be born with disorders such as low birth weight, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) etc., majorly due to the carbon monoxide and tar in the tobacco.

Skeletal Problems

Smoking can also result in a variety of skeletal issues. For example, recent studies confirm a link between prolonged tobacco use and decreased bone density. Also, when smokers grow old, they are at a higher risk of getting a fracture, but their bones take longer to heal than a nonsmoker of the same age. Complete smoking cessation supplemented with proper diet can actually reduce all the risks involved, however, it can take several years depending on how long the person has been smoking.

Eyesight

Smoking can be as dangerous for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Smokers are at least twice as likely to develop muscular degenerative order and cataracts as compared to nonsmokers. In fact, science has now confirmed that smoking is the leading cause of vision loss. 

Other Effects of Cigarette Smoking

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is perhaps the worst effects of smoking. It is the one effect that goes beyond simply harming the smoker and harming other innocent people around them. Check out this page to learn everything you'd ever want to know about secondhand smoke.

Smoker's Cough

Smoker's cough is simply any a cough caused by smoking tobacco. It could simply be your body clearing out the lungs of the tar, or it could be a symptom of something more. Be sure to check out the page to learn more about what smoker's cough is and what you can do about it.

Smoker Lungs

Just like smoker's cough, smoker lungs are simply lungs that have been affected for a long period of time by inhalation of tobacco smoke. Check out this page to see the difference between smoker and non-smoker lungs and to learn more about the damage smoking does to the lungs.

What’s your reason to smoke?

If you, or someone close to you smokes, ask them what’s their reason to smoke? While there are so many reasons not to smoke, finding one good reason to smoke is virtually impossible. Is it really worth it to risk your precious body for momentary relaxation, which almost instantly leads to restlessness and cravings? Although quitting is not very easy, but with right strategy and support, it is very much doable. The good thing is that you will start seeing the positive impacts of smoking cessation in a few weeks. For instance, within weeks your cough goes away, your skin and teeth start looking better, within one year, the risk of heart attack drops sharply, and within 2-5 years, the risk of mouth, lung and other cancers drop considerably. If you want to quit, but are not sure what to do, this can be a good place to start.

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