Are you a smoker? Do you find it impossible not to light a cigarette when drinking your daily cup of joe? Do you constantly feel a cigarette craving that prevents you from even thinking about quitting?
You might say you love smoking, but that’s actually your addiction talking. You feel a kind of pleasure when you replenish the nicotine in your blood, but that’s pretty much the definition of addiction.
Smoking Is the Leading Cause of Preventable Death
According to the latest CDC statistics on smoking, tobacco use causes more than 7 million deaths per year. In the US alone, more than 480000 people die every year due to smoking. Let that sink in.
Now, think for a moment about the fact that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. This means that it kills more people than alcohol, illegal drugs, guns, vehicle incidents, and HIV combined.
So, you could improve and extend your life if you only decide to kick the nasty habit. You could prevent potential premature death due to various smoking-related diseases.
What Are the Main Health Risks of Smoking?
Smoking leads to many serious health problems, but the most important risks to consider include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Respiratory diseases
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack
- Fertility problems
- Gum disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Vision problems.
What Areas of the Body Does Smoking Affect?
Smoking negatively affects almost every part of your body. Read through each of the following to better understand just how this seriously dangerous habit puts your health at great risk.
Lungs are the most obvious body parts affected by smoke. Smoke damages the airways in the lungs and the tiny air sacs, or alveoli, which enable the exchange of oxygen.
After years of smoking, lungs can develop serious respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pneumonia, and emphysema.
Smoking causes damage to the cardiovascular system, significantly increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. It damages blood vessels, making them tighter and narrower, and building plaque in the blood. This makes it more difficult for blood to flow normally, which may lead to blood clots.
Tobacco use also greatly increases high blood pressure while reducing the levels of good cholesterol in the blood. It also potentially leads to coronary heart disease, as well as peripheral arterial disease.
Smoking nearly doubles the risk of stroke, precisely because of the risk of clotting. When blood vessels weaken and create a clot, that clot blocks the blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.
A blood clot can also travel to the brain, creating a bulge that leads to a brain aneurysm. What often follows is the bursting of that bulge, which is when a stroke occurs.
People who smoke lose bone density at a much faster rate than those who don’t smoke. Their bone tissue also becomes much thinner over time.
Long-term tobacco use makes bones considerably weaker and very brittle. This is exactly what leads to osteoporosis (especially in women), and rheumatoid arthritis.
Muscles are also greatly affected by tobacco use, as cigarette smoke directly damages muscles in the body. This is because there’s less oxygen going to the muscles through the bloodstream, as the number of tiny blood vessels that carry oxygen to the muscles decreases over time.
This makes muscles tired and painful, not to mention that it speeds up their deterioration.
The Reproductive System
Not many people are aware of the dangers of smoking to the reproductive system. Women who smoke have a higher risk of infertility, and they often have a lot of trouble getting pregnant.
They are also at risk of premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, and earlier menopause.
Needless to say, if they smoke while pregnant, they can seriously harm their babies as well, as they may develop birth defects, or die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Men who smoke are also at higher risk of hurting their reproductive system. Not only could they develop erectile dysfunction, but they could also become infertile.
The Digestive System
The digestive system is yet another body area greatly affected by smoking. Not only can tobacco use cause heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, but it can also lead to various liver diseases.
Smoking also increases the risk of peptic ulcers, colon polyps, gallstones, pancreatitis, and Crohn’s disease.
The Immune System
Smoking significantly weakens the immune system as well. This is because tobacco contains high levels of nicotine, tar, and dozens of other dangerous chemicals, all of which contribute to making your immune system weaker.
Now, you need it to be strong because it protects you from various infections that could lead to serious health issues. So, when you smoke, your chances of getting sick are much higher. You may even increase your chances of developing autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Furthermore, smoking makes your white blood cell count much higher because the body is trying to fight inflammation caused by all the nicotine. White blood cells fight off infections, so they’re constantly high in number because your body is under stress.
This raises the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and heart disease, and can also lead to type 2 diabetes.
As your blood vessels don’t send enough oxygen to your skin when you’re smoking, the skin starts aging prematurely. Smoking for a long time can also make your skin look a bit grey, and it can start sagging before it normally would.
Yet another one of the effects of smoking on skin is psoriasis, which is a chronic skin condition that increases the skin cells’ life cycle, causing itchy and painful red patches on the skin.
It’s rather logical that smoking causes bad breath, and makes your teeth lose their pearly white color. However, smoking can also further damage teeth, leading to gum disease, and contributing to the loss of teeth.
According to CDC findings on smoking and gum disease, smokers have twice the risk for gum disease than non-smokers.
Lots of smokers don’t realize that tobacco use can severely damage their vision. It increases the risk of developing cataracts, but it can also lead to blindness in seniors.
According to National Eye Institute research, smoking doubles the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which happens to be the leading cause of vision loss in seniors over 65 years of age.
Smoking damages the DNA in the body’s cells, which is precisely what leads to various types of cancer. Smoking can lead to cancer all over the body, including:
- Blood (acute myeloid leukemia).
According to American Cancer Society statistics, 30% of cancer deaths in the US are the result of smoking.
Decide to Live Healthier, and Quit Smoking!
Quitting smoking isn’t always easy, and it often takes a lot of time and effort to kick the habit completely and forget all about the cravings for nicotine.
But once you quit, you’ll start feeling all the extraordinary benefits of not smoking anymore, and your health will improve significantly.
So, stub out that last cigarette right now, and start building a healthier, happier, smoke-free life that you deserve.