Refraining from tobacco use is one of the largest preventable cause of death. Read the article to know how smoking tobacco can affect various body parts.
Tobacco, taken in any form, can lead to many diseases, including cancers. According to the data collected from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, in low and middle-income countries (including India), 41% of men and 5% of women are smokers. But the most important concern is the rising trend of smoking in developing countries like India.
Tobacco is used in the form of smoking, chewing, sniffing, and dipping. Among them, smoking is the most prevalent form. There are many diseases caused by smoking, like peripheral arterial disease, stroke, heart disease, and lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD); however, the most dreaded and frightening disease is cancer.
There are many cancers in various areas or organs in the body, but the most definitive evidence for smoking-associated cancer is seen in the following areas:
Colon and rectum.
Some of the side effects of smoking are:
1. Lung Cancer - It is the most common cause of death due to smoking and the leading cause of cancer deaths.
2. Constricted Blood Vessels - As nicotine constricts your blood vessels, it increases the risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
3. Bronchitis - It is the inflammation of the tubes that carry air to your lungs.
4. Persistent cough - Airway gets damaged, which results in continuous coughing.
5. High Cholesterol - Smoking, that is, tobacco smoke, raises the total cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. It also reduces HDL (good) cholesterol and increases LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.
6. Heart Disease - Active and passive smoking, both increases the risk of heart disease.
7. COPD - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a group of diseases affecting the lungs like emphysema, asthma, and bronchitis. It is more common in smokers.
8. Lowers Immunity - Smoking affects the immune system, which prevents it from effectively fighting off infections.
9. Infertility - Smokers commonly have fertility problems.
10. Loss of Libido- People who smoke often experience low sex drive.
11. Erectile Dysfunction - As smoking constricts the blood flow, men who smoke suffer from erectile dysfunction.
12. Blood Clots - Blood clots are commonly seen in people who smoke. It increases the risk of heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.
13. Accelerates Aging - Less blood flow due to constricted vessels results in poor nutrition supply to the skin. This stimulates the occurrence of wrinkles and fine lines and makes the individual look older.
14. Yellow Fingers and Teeth - Nicotine stains can make your nails and teeth look dirty and yellow, resulting in an unpleasant smile. Apart from this, smoking increases the deposition of tartar, making the gums weaker and ultimately losing the tooth.
15. Loss of Appetite- Overall general health gets affected because the person feels less hungry.
16. Vision Problems - It increases the risk of eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
17. Early Menopause - Women who smoke enter menopause earlier.
18. Complications in Surgical Procedures- Smokingabrupts the healing process after a surgical procedure. Therefore, it can create complications and hamper the surgery results. Because of this reason, before any surgical procedures (minor or major), including dental surgeries or cosmetic surgeries, patients are advised to stop smoking before and after the surgery.
19. Effects of Passive Smoking - Smokers can harm the people surrounding them because the harmful smoke can be inhaled by them and can enter their lungs. This can make their lungs weak. Therefore, a smoker can pass on the side effects of smoking to his or her family.
Smoking is not good for a woman who wants to conceive. Smoking has ill effects on the development of the baby and the health of the mother. Although in India, the percentage of women who smoke is lesser than in western countries, there is still some percentage of pregnancies that get complicated because of smoking. In addition, men who smoke face fertility issues as sperms get affected by smoking. The side effects of smoking on pregnancy are discussed below.
Premature delivery of a baby, which is called preterm birth.
Death of the baby before or at the time of delivery can occur, which is called a stillbirth.
A baby could be born with low birth weight because of smoking.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Birth defects in the newborn child.
Increase in the chances of miscarriage.
Reduces fertility and causes problems in conceiving.
Nicotine is the major addictive substance and primary reinforcer of continued smoking, and there are 72 measurable carcinogens in smoking. People who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime are particularly at risk for developing cancer. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), after quitting smoking for ten years, the risk of lung cancer reduces to about half that of a smoker.
As nicotine is a major addictive substance and it is not a carcinogen, pharmacotherapy agents for nicotine replacement are available in various forms, which are mentioned below.
1. Transdermal patches (to be applied over the skin).
2. Chewing gum.
4. Nasal spray.
6. Tablet Bupropion.
7. Tablet Varenicline.
The last two should be taken only on the advice of a medical professional.
Recent data in the United States has shown that smoking causes more deaths worldwide. Smoking is responsible for nine out of ten lung cancer deaths in both men and women.
Smoking is to blame for eight out of every ten chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) deaths. Additionally, this addiction causes one in five deaths in the United States. Smoking has been considered more dangerous than alcohol.
Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of death globally. This addiction causes many health hazards and affects the whole body. Therefore, an individual should quit smoking as soon as possible to live a healthy life.
So, consult a physician for smoking cessation before it is too late.
Last reviewed at:
14 Oct 2022 - 4 min read
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