Sunday, September 27, 2009

SMOKING - the harm and effects

A very informative and touching story posted in SUNDAY STAR today on the harmful effects of Smoking by a parent who is also a medical doctor by profession. Please take a read and stay away from this unsavoury habit....


Sunday September 27, 2009


If you haven’t started on the filthy habit of smoking, please don’t. It can only harm you.

MY daughter recently started to smoke cigarettes. I found a box under her bed. When I confronted her, she claimed she just wanted to “try it out” and that she was pressured by her classmates to start. I want to convince her cigarette smoking leads to deadly diseases. What are the facts?

According to the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), smoking harms and damages almost every organ in the body.

In the US alone, the effects of cigarette smoking causes 438,000 deaths annually, which means that one out of every five deaths is related to it.

Virtually every system in your body is affected – your cardiovascular system, your respiratory system, and so on.

Apparently, in the US, as of 2007, it was found that 43.4 million adult Americans smoked. This is basically one out of five people there.

Most of them are aged between 25 and 40. But teen smoking, like that of your daughter, is on the rise.

The CDC has found that nearly 20% of all high school students in America smoke.

But smoking only causes lung cancer, right?

No, that’s where you are wrong. Smoking causes not only lung cancer, but cancers of the mouth, bladder, throat, voicebox (larynx), oesophagus, kidney, cervix, pancreas, stomach, and even leukaemia.

90% of lung cancer deaths in men are related to the type of cancer caused by smoking. And 80% of lung cancer related deaths in women are also due to this.

If you are a man who smokes, the risk of contracting lung cancer is 23 times that of a man who doesn’t smoke.

If you are a woman who smokes, the risk is 13 times higher than that of a woman who doesn’t smoke.

What is inside a cigarette that causes cancer?

It’s not only cigarettes. It’s also cigars and what you put into pipes. The ingredients are dried tobacco leaves, which contain nicotine.

Analysis shows that there are more than 4,000 different chemicals in these dried leaves and what has been added to enhance their flavour, including ammonia, tar, and carbon monoxide. 60 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. They are called carcinogens.

Don’t forget, even if you smoke low-tar cigarettes, the rest of the chemicals are still present.

There are plenty of theories as to how cigarette smoke affects the organs in the body.

One of the carcinogens, benzo(a)pyrene, damages DNA and mutates cells. Cigarette smoke also damages the lining of your lungs, including the cilia, which makes it more difficult to clear secretions and harmful substances.

My daughter initially didn’t like her first cigarette, but now she says it’s difficult to stop. Why is this so? Is she addicted?

Yes, she probably is addicted. Addiction means a repeated, compulsive, physical and psychological seeking or use of a substance despite knowing its harmful effects. Your daughter is addicted to cigarettes because of the nicotine in it. In each cigarette, the smoker will inhale around 1mg to 2mg of nicotine. How much you take in depends on how many puffs you take or how deeply you inhale.

It’s not only the nicotine. Smoking is linked to a lot of social activities, like hanging around with friends, and after a meal, or after sex.

There’s a deep emotional resonance to smoking, and many people are afraid of losing their friends and the things they love doing if they quit smoking.

Most smokers, around 70%, say they want to quit. But only 4% to 7% succeed without any help.

By the way, even if you don’t care about your own health, care about others around you. Second-hand smoke – smoke inhaled by being in the vicinity of smokers – is also very harmful. It’s also unfair to those around you because they didn’t ask for it.

There is no “safe” amount of second-hand smoke.

What other health problems can be caused by smoking?

Other than cancer, smoking can cause or lead to heart diseases (heart attacks, angina), aneurysms in blood vessels, and blood vessel disease of the arms and legs (peripheral vascular disease), which results in poor blood flow. It is also a factor for stroke.

In the lungs, in addition to cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema, it makes asthma or pneumonia worse.

It has also been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration of the eye, osteoporosis, hip fractures, gum disease, and peptic ulcers.

Smokers are also more likely to have erectile dysfunction. It’s also very bad for pregnant women, and particularly damaging to the child you carry.

I am told that smoking reduces life expectancy. Is this true? Does it mean you die earlier?

In general, male smokers lose an average of 13.2 years in life and females 14.5 years of life. That’s a lot of years to lose!

Smoking also limits your quality of life.

In addition to the possible diseases you might get, it’s harder for you to breathe, walk, get around in life, or work.

(Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information).

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