Smoking is renowned for being bad for us and yet around 20% of Britain’s population continues to puff away. We all seem to know of somebody who smoked all their life and lived to a ripe age, or people who lived smoke free and then developed cancer regardless. This leads to the question: Is smoking really that dangerous? This article gives the concrete facts about smoking, telling the truth as it really is.
What’s in cigarettes?
Cigarettes contain arsenic, lead, cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and 43 cancer-causing agents. They also commonly contain urea, a chemical compound that is a major component in urine that is used to add “flavour” to cigarettes!
How bad are they?
Smoking worldwide is estimated to kill one person every six second, with rates increasing according to the World Health Organisation. Scientists claim that the average smoker will lose 14 years of their life due to smoking. However, this doesn’t mean that a smoker will die ‘young’ – they may even live longer than the ‘normal’ lifespan – but shorter than they could if they were a non-smoker.
The immune systems of smokers are constantly stimulated by components of cigarette smoker, leading to a depletion of antioxidants. These chemicals help the body to detoxify waste and in the absence of antioxidants the body will age more quickly.
Tobacco-related diseases are one of the biggest killers of the modern world. Among the diseases that can be caused by smoking are hypertension, cancer, heart attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The rates of impotence are also 85% higher in smokers compared with non-smokers. Females are not spared either; smoking is harmful to the ovaries and can potentially cause female infertility. Smokers are 60% more likely to be infertile than non-smokers.
Tobacco has also been associated with cognitive dysfunction and there appears to be an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in later life. Even in the young, smoking has been shown to cause reduced cognitive ability and memory.
The exact effects of smoking depend both upon the number of years of smoking and the quantity of cigarettes per day. Smoking from an earlier age, with a higher number of daily cigarettes increases an individuals risk. However, smoking ‘light’ cigarettes does not decrease the risk.
Is the damage reversible?
If somebody stops smoking then their chances of suffering ill-effects gradually decreases as the body repairs itself. A year after quitting, the risk of contracting heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker.
What about passive smoking?
Exposure to tobacco smoke from other’s can also be extremely detrimental. Children and infant’s from smoking parents have a far greater risk of infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.
Whilst smoking bans in the UK met a large resistance, they have been effective in reducing the number of smokers and saving millions from the detriments of second-hand smoke.
Stopping smoking may or may not save your life. What is certain is that it will stop premature ageing, increase your immune system, decrease your risk of heart attack and save others around you from these deadly consequences.