Smoking is highly addictive, nicotine, after all, is absorbed by the bloodstream within 10 seconds of entering the body. Even though the United States has seen a decrease in cigarette smoking during the past decade, an estimate of 36.5 million adults are considered current smokers. Smoking can be attributed to at least 16 million Americans living with smoke-related diseases and about 480,000 deaths every year.
Having a cigarette every now and then or every 30 minutes will take a toll on your body and put you and those around you at risk of serious diseases.
How and why is cigarette smoke so dangerous?
When cigarette smoke is inhaled, more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known to cause cancer, enter the body. The smoke travels from the trachea or windpipe all the way to the lungs and bronchi. After smoking for some time, tar starts to build up in the lungs and damage the alveoli which are tiny air sacks located at the end of the bronchiole.
The damaged alveoli become less elastic, making it harder for the lungs to inhale all the oxygen that the body needs. As a result, the smoker may suffer from tiredness and shortness of breath. Additionally, smoking affects the blood vessels and therefore, the way oxygen travels throughout the body.
Effects of smoking on your body
- Inhaling cigarette smoke may cause the cells in your blood vessels to react to the smoke’s chemicals. These chemicals cause damage to the blood vessels, increasing your heart rate, and blood pressure.
- Smoking for a long time can lead to COPD, a progressive condition that makes it hard to breathe.
- According to BeTobaccoFree, smoking is linked to an increased risk of developing conditions that can lead to blindness such as cataract, optic nerve damage, and age-related macular degeneration.
- Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. But, it can also affect the entire body, putting you at risk of developing kidney, liver, stomach, rectum, and esophagus cancer.
- Smoking can cause the development of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
- Tobacco use has a direct relationship to decreased bone density and increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Smokers expose themselves and others to tobacco smoke. Passive, or second-hand smokers inhale most of the same chemicals, causing similar health risk as those listed above.
Some of these conditions, including COPD, are very hard to treat. Florida Pulmonary Research Institute is conducting clinical trials to offer new and more advanced treatment options that aren’t yet available to the public. Those who qualify will see board-certified physicians at no cost and receive compensation for travel and time.