The Harmful Health Effects of Smoking
Composition of Cigarettes
Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemical compounds of which at least 400 are toxic. The most damaging compounds in a cigarette are:
- Tar, which is a substances that causes cancer
- Nicotine, which is addictive and also increases your cholesterol levels
- Carbon monoxide, which reduces the level of oxygen in your body
- Gases, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
Smoking Related Illnesses
Every day in the UK, 300 people die of smoking related illnesses. The main killers are:
- Cardiovascular diseases (diseases that affect the blood flow to your vital organs) – coronary thrombosis (a blood clot leading to a heart attack); cerebral thrombosis (a blood clot leading to a stroke); kidney failure; and blockages leading to gangrene and amputation
- Cancer – lung cancer, cancer of the oesophagus, bladder cancer, cancer of the pancreas, cancer of the kidneys, and cervical cancer.
Other Health Risks Related to Smoking
There are many other risks to your health that may not be lethal in the short term but can have devastating impacts on your life. For example:
- Fertility problems
- High blood pressure
- Bloodshot and itchy eyes
- Gradual loss of eyesight
- Teeth and gum stains
- Periodontal disease
- Mouth ulcers
- Pale skin and wrinkles
Health Risks to Others
Passive smoking occurs when people who are not smoking (both smokers and non-smokers) inhale the smoke exhaled by others. It has been recognized that this can lead to serious health conditions, which is one of the reasons why smoking is no longer allowed in many public places such as pubs, clubs, and restaurants.
Did you know that children who grow up in a home where both parents smoke are twice as likely to develop asthma? And infants are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death) in a house where people smoke. For adults, passive smoking increases the risk of cancer. Studies are being conducted at present to determine whether there is also an increase in the risk of heart disease.
As you can see, the list of health risks associated with smoking is very long and goes on beyond the information that has been included in this article. Research is also continuously being conducted to identify other health risks associated with smoking. We must remember that smoking kills around 114,000 people in the UK alone each year, and many of these people die of cancers or cardiovascular illnesses, but around 30,000 die a slow and painful death, suffering from emphysema and other chronic lung diseases. Plenty of reasons to stop smoking!