Butt Out: The Many Health Threats of Smoking
Do you ever light up a cigarette? Even though we all know that smoking is “bad” for us, just exactly how bad is it? The number (and the severity) of health problems related to smoking may surprise you. Smoking can cause short-term health problems, such as coughing and irritation of the eyes. However, the real risks are connected to long-term diseases and health problems that can show up decades down the road.
Heart problems can also come about through a smoking habit. Smoking raises a person’s blood pressure, which puts more strain on the heart. The arteries and veins may also harden or become diseased, which puts even more stress on the heart. This combination has often resulted in strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure. In fact, smoking can cause your risk of death from heart disease to triple.
The Big “C”
Smoking can cause cancer; and not just lung cancer, although that is the type that immediately comes to mind. Oral cancer, throat cancer, and even pancreatic cancer can spring from a history of smoking. Tobacco use in the form of chewing tobacco can also cause cancer in the gums, lips, and tongue. Other cancers that are often linked to smoking include liver, bladder, uterine, and prostate cancer.
If you are pregnant, you should definitely quit smoking for your baby’s sake. Smoking increases the risk of both miscarriage and stillbirth. It also raises the odds that the woman will have a placental abruption (this is when the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall and prevents oxygen from reaching the baby). Even if the baby is born full-term, it will likely grow more slowly in the womb and will have a higher risk of SIDS after birth. Babies born to smoking mothers are usually found to have a lower weight at birth than the babies born to non-smokers. The dubious pleasure of smoking is just not worth the risk to either the mother or the baby.
Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are also often caused by smoking and are usually lifelong ailments.
Besides all of the health dangers that go along with smoking, there are some “cosmetic” reasons to stay away from the cigs as well. Smoking can cause your breath, hair, clothes, and well pretty much every part of you to stink. It can also stain your teeth and lead to gum disease, as well as other dental problems. And, if you’ve smoked for a long time, you can develop what is known as “smoker’s face” where the face wrinkles prematurely around the mouth, eyes and neck, simply from the continuous act of inhaling. All of these things can make you look years – even decades – older than you actually are.
Secondhand smoke can also affect those around you. Ear infections are known to be linked to the presence of cigarette smoke in the home. Children who live with a smoking family member also seem more vulnerable to some cancers. This is not too surprising when you know that there are 43 known cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke.
If you are ready to quit smoking, there are many types of aids available. Some stop-smoking aids include nicotine gum, patches, and pills. There is a way for almost everyone to find a way to quit smoking. You can also join support groups to help you commit to kicking your habit. Some find that breathing exercises can help take the edge off the cravings for cigarettes. Your doctor will have helpful advice that he or she will be happy to share to help you try to quit. You should also be sure to get all tobacco out of your life; this means don’t keep any of it in the car or the house. With these ideas, you will be able to realize your plan to quit smoking.