Some factors increase the cause of mortality, and smoking is one of them. But, the mortality related to smoking can be preventable. Smoking-related deaths are due to tobacco-causing cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), and heart diseases.
Different types of tobacco
All forms of tobacco are detrimental to health, and cigarette smoking is a widely used form of tobacco smoking. Other forms are:
- Water pipe tobacco or hookah
- Snuff tobacco
- Chewing tobacco
- Cigars and cheroot
- Pipe tobacco
- Bidis and clove cigarettes
- Smokeless tobacco products
Most of us know that smoking is harmful to health. Smoking can increase your risk of developing cancer and diseases, even if you smoke occasionally, the adverse effects are still there. Smoking may cause:
- Lung cancer
- It also causes cancer of the larynx, nose, bladder, bone marrow, cervix, esophagus, kidneys, blood, mouth, throat, stomach, and rectum.
- Heart diseases, including coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial diseases, and heart attack
- Respiratory diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Weakens immunity, which makes you prone to various infectious diseases, including cold, flu, pneumonia, bronchitis
- Causes economic burden
- Your breath, clothes, and hands smell of tobacco
- Decreases life expectancy
Why is smoking harmful?
Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals, of which more than 250 toxic chemicals are harmful, and 16 are group 1 carcinogenic agents. Benzene (an active ingredient in cigarettes) is a potent cause of acute myeloid leukemia. Smoking affects every organ of our body, causing various diseases and conditions. The link between smoking and lung cancer is evident, as more than 90% of lung cancer cases are because of chronic smoking.
When we inhale tobacco smoke, many chemicals, including tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, phenols, ammonia, and carcinogenic toxins, enter our body and cause damage to our lungs, heart, and peripheral arteries and veins.
Nicotine in tobacco causes addiction, which makes smoking, a hard habit to break. It activates Dopamine (a happy hormone) released in our brain, which helps you concentrate, relieve stress, and feel content. With time, when the nicotine level decreases, your brain craves more dopamine hormone, and you become dependent on the nicotine.
Benefits of quitting smoking
No matter how long or how much you smoked, you can benefit from quitting regardless of your age. Even heavy smokers, who puff for many years, will benefit from smoking cessation. Although quitting causes withdrawal symptoms due to nicotine addiction, it will improve with time. Following are a few benefits of quitting smoking:
- Lower risk of cancers: As we know, smoking increases the risk of various cancers, so quitting smoking helps lower the chances of getting cancer.
- Improves lung health: After quitting smoking for more than two weeks, the blood circulation in our lungs improves, and lung functions enhance. Within a few months, you can see improvement in coughing and breathlessness.
- Boost heart health: Within a few minutes of quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure levels go down. In 2 to 3 weeks, the narrowness of the arteries decreases, and blood flow improves. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart and peripheral artery diseases over time.
- Recover smell and taste senses: Within a few days after smoking cessation, your smell and taste senses will gradually improve, as chemicals present in the tobacco suppress the taste buds. You will start noticing the subtle flavor and aroma of dishes after quitting.
- Healthier family members: There is no better way to protect family members, coworkers, friends, and people around you from health risks associated with secondhand smoke (passive smoking) are by quitting smoking. Secondhand smoke is the tobacco fume you accidentally inhale. Passive smoking can cause respiratory issues and asthma and increase the risk of cancers.
- Healthy pregnancy: Whether you are planning a pregnancy, pregnant, or nursing, you should not indulge yourself in smoking. Smoking during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby in the womb and increases the risk of miscarriage, complications during childbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and a baby born with weaker lungs and respiratory illnesses. It can cause infertility in both males and females, and smoking also jeopardizes the success rate of fertility treatments (IUI and IVF).
If you are a smoker, at least quit it three months before conceiving, as smoking affects sperm and egg production.
- It increases life expectancy so you can live longer with a healthy body.
Quitting smoking improves your health and also protects the people around you. You can approach smoking cessation as a positive step towards a healthy and long life. If you are still thinking about quitting smoking, don’t hold back and try to do it now.
Dr. Kanika Sharma Sood, Director & Clinical Lead – Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi