It is a well-known fact that smoking has serious effects on human health. But those who cannot do without it, or think they cannot do without it, prefer to ignore how much damage smoking does. Let us remind ourselves of the most prominent harmful effects of smoking one more time as the increase in the number of deaths linked to smoking shows that society is still not aware of them.

Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 substances harmful to the human body, such as poisonous arsenic, the insecticide DDT and carbon monoxide, which causes cell aging by decreasing the oxygen capacity of the blood. Just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your body starts to recover. It may even be possible to free your body from the negative effects caused by years of smoking, on the condition that you give it up totally.

Cancer is one of the most dangerous diseases of our age; and smoking comes first in the list of causes of this terminal illness. It is known that smoking increases the probability of lung cancer by 15 times, throat and uterine cancer by 16 times, oral cancer by 10 times, as well as doubling the risk of bladder and prostate cancers. Cigarettes contain carcinogenic substances such as radon, cadmium and hydrocarbons that distort cell genetics. To say it more simply, it can be said that cancer is uncontrolled cellular division caused by distortion in the cell form. The substances mentioned previously distort the DNA. They pose a threat for all of the body’s organs as they travel through the entire human body via the bloodstream.

Smoking is the primary cause of cardiovascular disease. Research shows that smoking doubles the possibility of vascular occlusion in the legs and increases the probability of a heart attack four-fold. Toxic substances infuse into the blood via the lungs and cause damage to the lung walls as they travel through the body via the arteries. The damage causes fat accumulation on artery walls and blood clotting. The arteries start to narrow, which results in poor nutrition of the heart and in the long run, heart attacks.

Smoking is also one of the most common causes of respiratory disease. Tar, hydrocarbons, arsenic, sulfur and irritants damage the mucous membrane, which is one of the most important elements of the respiratory tract. The disruption to the functioning of the secretory canals result in dryness. As a result of all this, mucus accumulation starts. In the long term, bronchitis and emphysema or similar disorders can develop due to infections. The progression of such respiratory diseases results in severe shortness of breath and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Research shows that smoking increases the probability of COPD 15 times.

Another well-known danger of smoking is stroke caused by vascular occlusion. Toxic substances in cigarettes distort the shape of blood vessels, causing coagulation. Coagulation in already-narrowed down vessels is the main cause of strokes.

The human body has its own cellular and mechanical immune system. The membrane structures of the skin, mouth and nose constitute the mechanical immune system, while white blood cells make up the cellular immune system. The toxic substances in tobacco smoke result in damage to both systems. So it is noted that a germ or bacteria which is not enough to make a non-smoker ill can easily affect a smoker. Research shows that smokers are five times more prone to illness than non-smokers.

Nowadays images depicting the illnesses caused by smoking are used on cigarette boxes as a deterrent. The picture depicting an empty baby carriage between a couple is one of the most striking. Studies show that smoking has serious negative effects on sexual reproduction. This effect is 10 times higher in women than men. One of the most significant effects of smoking is to decrease the oxygen rate in the blood, which results in a decrease in the quality of sperm and ovum. As well, the possibility of miscarriage is higher in women who smoke compared to non-smokers.

Smoking also has more visible effects on the skin. Toxic substances in cigarettes cause dryness in the top layer of the skin, which accelerates the wrinkling process. Blood with a low oxygen level and constricted arteries cannot sufficiently nourish the skin; they slow down its renewal processes. Scientists conducted a set of studies to show the effects of smoking on skin and aging. The most noteworthy is the one conducted on twins. The study shows photos of middle-aged monozygotic (identical) twins, one of whom is a smoker. They look very different although they have the same genetic code. The smoker looks 10 years older than the non-smoker. As it is supported by these startling photographs, the study provides a memorable anti-smoking message. Skin is not the only aspect of physical appearance affected by smoking. It also affects the quality of the hair. It is known that smokers face more problems like hair loss and splitting.

Furthermore, a study conducted in Korea shows that the risk of osteolysis (bone degeneration) is 10 times higher in those who consume a pack of cigarettes daily, compared to non-smokers. Osteolysis is a particular risk for postmenopausal women but threatens both men and women in old age.

Finally, one of the most well-known effects of smoking is the yellowing of teeth. I The color change in teeth is an inevitable result of smoking. In addition to its aesthetic consequences, there are also various effects on tooth health. The substances in cigarettes and the heat released through smoking increase the risk of oral cancer 30-fold. This type of cancer is seen very often in smokers but rarely in non-smokers. Smokers also suffer more from tooth decay and gingivitis.

Source:  Daily Sabah

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