As we all know, hundreds of thousands of people die each year from smoking related diseases. Usually these involve various types of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 50% of all smokers die from one or other smoking related disease.
Even more alarming is the fact that a long term smoker will generally live ten years less than they would have had they not smoked cigarettes. For example, 80% of non-smokers in the United Kingdom live past the age of 70, but only 50% of long-term smokers live long enough to celebrate their 70th birthday. Of course, the younger you are when you start, and the longer you leave it before giving up the habit, the more chance there is that you’ll die prematurely.
Something else to bear in mind is that smoking related diseases very rarely result in a quick and painless death. To the contrary, sufferers usually have to endure months, if not years, of extremely unpleasant symptoms. Even those diseases which aren’t fatal can still leave you to cope with years of unpleasantness. Fortunately, however, there is at least some good news as well, in that it is never too late to give up. Irrespective of when you decide to quit, it will still benefit your health enormously.
This is something the general population tends to be taking seriously nowadays. For example, 50% of the UK’s adult population smoked cigarettes in the early seventies, whereas today, less than 25% of UK adults smoke. Similar statistics in the U.S. suggests that this downward trend appears to be taking place on a global scale, as more and more people begin to understand the real risks involved.
Before we go on to look at the various diseases caused by cigarette smoke, let’s take a quick look at what that smoke actually contains.
Nicotine – Nicotine acts by stimulating the brain, and because it’s addictive, smokers become dependent on it and suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they’re deprived of the drug.
Tar – Tar in itself contains thousands of chemicals. In fact, there are more than 4000 known chemicals present it tar, and of these, at least 50 are known to be carcinogenic. In other words, they are known to cause cancer.
Carbon Monoxide – This substance interferes with the way in which blood carries oxygen around the body, and it’s particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn children.
Now that you’re aware of what you’re breathing in each time you smoke a cigarette, let’s move on to the smoking related diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of lung cancer cases are linked directly to smoking. Alarmingly enough, there were more than 150,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States last year. Even in the UK, where less than 25% of adults smoke, there were still more than 30,000 recorded cases. Smoking is also known to cause a variety of other cancers. These include but are not limited to: leukemia, cancer of the mouth and throat, cancer of the gullet, and cancer of the kidneys.
2. COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
This is the second biggest smoking related killer. In fact, COPD is a serious lung condition which claims the lives of approximately 25,000 people in the UK every year. In the United States, COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death, and as with lung cancer, 80% of cases are directly linked to smoking. The disease is extremely unpleasant and death usually only occurs after several years of suffering.
3. Heart Disease
Heart Disease kills more people than any other disease. For example, more than 120,000 people perish from heart disease each year in the UK. In the United States, the picture seems to be even bleaker, with an estimated 800,000 dying from heart disease yearly. Once again, many of these deaths are due to smoking.
4. Poor Circulation
Several chemicals present in tobacco smoke have an adverse effect on circulation. They are also known to cause “hardening of the arteries, which in turn is the leading cause of strokes.
5. Sexual Dysfunction
People who smoke are more likely to suffer from conditions such as impotence. Many smokers, even though they’re not considered to be impotent, will experience difficulty maintaining an erection by the time they reach their mid-thirties. Smoking is also believed to increase the risk of infertility in both men and women.
6. Premature Aging of the Skin
As strange as what it may seem, many people are more concerned about the appearance of wrinkles than they are about cancer. In fact, thousands and thousands of people have quit smoking simply because smoking encourages premature aging of the skin, and of course most people want to maintain a youthful appearance for as long as possible.
Over and above the diseases discussed above, smoking also aggravates many other conditions. These include but are not limited to:
2. Colds and flu
3. Respiratory infections
4. Multiple sclerosis
5. Crohn’s disease
Smoking can also put you at risk of developing a range of other unpleasant diseases such as gum disease, osteoporosis, and muscular degeneration, to name just a few.
Isn’t it amazing how some people are still willing to put themselves at such risk and that just because they feel like having a cigarette? The best advice anyone can give you, is that you quit today, because after all, tomorrow may be too late.