Today’s topic is Lifestyle. On Mondays, we delve into the little things; changes that you can make or activities that you can implement to your routine that can improve your quality of life! Today’s subject is the negative impact of smoking!
Smoking is a dangerous and harmful habit that has severe consequences on the human body. It is the leading cause of preventable death and disease worldwide, causing cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases, among others. Moreover, smoking can also affect hormonal balance and disrupt the delicate system of hormones in the human body.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2021), smoking causes about 1 in 3 cancers and is a major contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It also increases the risk of respiratory infections and asthma, and it can worsen existing health conditions such as diabetes and depression. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA and other genetic material in cells, leading to mutations and the development of cancer (American Cancer Society, 2020).
Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and can cause cancer (National Cancer Institute, 2020). Some of the cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarette smoke include:
• Acetone: a solvent found in nail polish remover
• Acrolein: herbicide
• Arsenic: a poison
• Benzene: a gasoline additive
• Formaldehyde: a preservative used in mortuaries
• Polonium-210: a radioactive element
In addition to its physical effects, smoking also has social and mental pitfalls. It can lead to social isolation and discrimination, as many places have laws that restrict smoking in public places. It can also be a financial burden, as cigarettes are expensive and can drain a person’s financial resources. Furthermore, smoking can have negative impacts on mental health. It can increase the risk of anxiety and depression and worsen existing mental health conditions (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). Studies have shown that smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Nordqvist, 2017).
There are several ways to quit smoking or find a better alternative. One option is to use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. NRT products, such as gum, patches, and lozenges, are available over the counter or by prescription. Studies have shown that NRT can increase the chances of quitting smoking by 50-70% (WHO, 2021). Another option is to use prescription medications, such as bupropion or varenicline, which can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
It is important to note that vaping is NOT a safer alternative to smoking. E-cigarette vapor contains potentially harmful substances, such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to serious lung disease), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). These substances can be harmful when inhaled and can cause respiratory issues, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath (CDC, 2020). Furthermore, the nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and can harm brain development in adolescents and young adults (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020). So, if you vape as an alternative to traditional smoking, ditch the nic-stick, and try one of the abovementioned alternatives instead. Please consult a healthcare provider before starting any medication.
Counseling or support from friends and family can also help you quit smoking. Many local and national organizations, such as the American Lung Association, offer resources and support for people trying to quit smoking. Smoking is a dangerous and harmful habit that has severe consequences on the human body, including disrupting hormonal balance. It can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other health conditions, and it has social and mental pitfalls. There are several options available to help people quit smoking, such as NRT, prescription medications, and counseling. Remember, it’s always better to breathe air than to breathe smoke. Until next time…
- American Cancer Society (2020). How tobacco smoke causes disease: The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/how-tobacco-smoke-causes-disease/index.html
- Mental Health Foundation (2021). Smoking and mental health. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/smoking-and-mental-health
- National Cancer Institute (2020). Cigarette smoking. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cigarette-smoking-fact-sheet
- WHO (2021). Tobacco. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/topics/tobacco/en/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2020). E-cigarettes. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/substance-use/e-cigarettes/index.html U.S.
- Food and Drug Administration (2020). Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes