How Tobacco is Affecting Your Health
By Maggie Coleman
Did you know that there are approximately 600 ingredients in a single cigarette? When burned they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer and many are poisonous. A few of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include nicotine, acetone, ammonia, arsenic, formaldehyde, and lead. These chemicals are also found in nail polish remover, hair dye, household cleaners, and batteries. Nicotine is the addictive substance found in tobacco products and if used during adolescence and young adult hood it can cause cognitive and behavioral impairments on working memory and attention due to the brain not being fully developed yet.
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health, however it is important to realize that the effects that smoking have are not only short term, but long-term as well. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing over 438,000 deaths per year. Smoking leads to heart and respiratory disease. According to the CDC, even people who smoke less than five cigarettes a day can be at risk for early signs of cardiovascular disease which include chest pain, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. Smoking causes narrowing and thickening of blood vessel walls which increases blood pressure and the risk for clots. Smoking damages the alveoli and airways in the lungs, leading to COPD, lung cancer, and various other lung diseases. Smoking poses other health risks and has the potential to harm every organ in the body. For men, smoking can reduce fertility and increase the risk for birth defects. Bone health, teeth, gums, eyes, and immune system function are also negatively effected by smoking.
Why should you quit?
- 1 year after quitting smoking, the risk of a heart attack drops significantly
- Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, the risk for stroke may decrease to around that of a non-smokers
- Within 5 years, the risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop.
- 10 years post quitting smoking, the risk for lung cancer decrease by half.
How can you quit smoking?
Deciding to quit smoking can be a hard decision to make. The road to quitting can be extremely challenging, but it can lead to overall health benefits and an increase in quality and duration of life. Here are some helpful tips to quit smoking!
- Make an appointment with the Marquette Counseling Center for support
- Set a quit date: Pick a date that you will stop smoking. You can tell your family and friends about the date and throw away all cigarettes. Keep busy throughout this day and avoid individuals who are smoking as best as you possibly can.
- Identify your smoking triggers and decide how you are going to best deal with them.
- Don’t give into your cravings. Try chewing gum or eating hard candy when the cravings arise.
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