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In 1986 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the use of tobacco in all its forms is incompatible with the achievement of the health objective and that nicotine is addictive; “the cigarette is a death tool and one cannot take a neutral stance towards it”.
About 90% of smokers are familiar with the lethal consequence of smoking, others see in cigarette consumption a health risk factor, whereas others minimize it out of fear of depriving themselves of pleasure. Many ignore the real dangers of smoking because real risks are often shadowed by the false truth that the real hazards related to smoking have yet to be proven scientifically. This is not true as statistics show that many more people die each year due to smoking rather in car accidents, heroin consumption, AIDS, homicides and suicides.
The consequences of smoking had been underestimated up to the 1990s but after a lot of research on the subject we can state that smoking is the greatest danger to our lives and it kills more people than any other illness. 50% of smokers die due to damage caused by the habit of smoking, 1/4 between their 35th and 65th year of age and another quarter in later years.
Thousands of deaths due to cancer are related to tobacco smoking, indeed tobacco addicts have a lung cancer rate 20 times higher compared to non-smokers and 90% of all lung cancer pathologies affect cigarette smokers. The likelihood of contracting these pathologies increases by 10 to 15 times when smoking 20 cigarettes a day and by 5 times already when smoking 10 cigarettes a day. In other words, the more you smoke, the more you risk. Nowadays we have noticed also an increase in cancer of; the oral cavity, the bladder, the stomach and the colon. Smoking contributes to one out of three deaths due to cardiac pathologies because of its consequences on coronary vessels and in fact estimates confirms that it causes 60% of heart diseases with fatal course.
It is certain that smoking shortens life by about 8.3 years according to some studies, whereas others mention a life reduction of 12 years but all agree in saying that smokers die prematurely by sacrificing a good part of their lives for the pleasure of smoking.
One of the first damaging effects of smoking occurs within10 minutes of inhalation and affects the blood pressure, which increases of 30 mmHg. Smoking is considered the risk factor with regard to arteriosclerosis, a pathology caused by the stricture of arteries and causing, when excessive has serious consequences for the body such as; pathologies of coronary vessels, angina pectoris, heart infarction and failure due to insufficient circulation, heart weakness, renal arteries stricture with hypertension and renal insufficiency, stricture of leg vessels and of those carrying blood to the brain, with subsequent hearing problems, vertigo, stroke and hemi-paralysis.
Smoking favors the calcification of blood vessels therefore smokers often suffer from circulatory problems in their legs developing a morbid condition called “smoker’s legs”: This pathology consists of a stricture and occlusion of the legs arteries, which cause pains in the legs while walking since muscles require more oxygen during that activity but cannot get it due to reduced capacity of the blood vessels. The pain shows up suddenly while walking indicating an oxygen deficiency and the person is forced to stop for a few minutes until the painful feeling subsides.
Smoking does not damage a single organ but rather damages several important systems of our body thereby altering their functioning and paving the way to many pathologies. The tobacco addict suffers very often from gastric and intestinal ulcers as smoking interferes with the production of gastric acids and inhibits the healing of ulcers while hindering a successful medical treatment. The carcinogenic substances of tobacco are eliminated through the kidneys and the bladder, causing a high rate of cancer in these organs among smokers, particularly in the bladder, probably due to prolonged retention of urine.
The respiratory tract is the first to experience and be effected by smoke particularly the nose, the pharynx, the trachea and the bronchi. The function of these organs is to carry air into the lungs and to allow gas exchange with the blood. Damage is caused to the lung structures, i.e. the alveoli that take part in this process of gas exchange, which interferes heavily with the breathing activity and leads to a serious pathological condition.
Other damage related to smoking is impotence in men according to a survey in America impotence is 50% more frequent among smokers than non-smokers. The high incidence of sexual troubles can be related to the circulatory problems caused by smoking.
Bones too are affected by tobacco addiction as smokers often suffer from pain in the back due to the effects nicotine has on blood circulation. The disks between the vertebrae do not get sufficient blood or nourishment so they degenerate and become slowly thinner.
A smoker’s mouth will often be affected by gingivitis, which gradually gets into the deeper periodontal tissues causing inflammation that in the long run can lead to the loss of teeth. It is now certain that cancer varieties affecting the oral cavity are favored by these methods of tobacco consumption and the risk of contracting these diseases is greater where the tobacco comes in direct contact with bodily tissue.
Cigarette smoke, particularly if associated with alcohol consumption, is a relevant risk factor in the western world as far as esophagus cancer is concerned, which also increases the risk of developing colon adenomas and liver tumors. Nicotine contracts the veins, whereas alcohol dilates them, when we smoke and drink at the same time it is as if we were pinching ourselves in order to stimulate and hitting ourselves over the head with a club in order to neutralize that very stimulus.
Smokers often ask if smoking can cause brain damage or hair loss, experts always reply that it does because smoke is a poison and generates a huge quantity of free radicals. A study led by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that smoking increases almost all main hormones such as; androgens hormones, including DHEA, androstenedione, testosterone and di-hydro-testosterone (DHT), i.e. the hormone responsible for baldness in men.
The study investigates 1241 men of medium age and compared hormone levels between smokers and non-smokers. In the study one can see that DHEA is 18% higher in smokers and that DHEAS is 13% higher, androstenedione 33% higher, testosterone 9% higher and DHT 13% higher. It is well known that higher testosterone and DHT levels are associated with high hair loss rates.
Smoking won’t cause loss of hair in those who are not genetically predisposed to it but stopping smoking will prevent hair loss in those who are predisposed. Besides, smoking can worsen baldness in men when already present.