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Being a living chimney; the negative effects (2)

Respiratory Infections

The airways are lined with tiny brush like hairs, called cilia. The cilia sweep out mucus and dirt so the lungs stay clear. Smoking temporarily paralyzes and even kills cilia. This makes one more at risk for infection. Smokers get more colds and respiratory infections than non-smokers.

DNA

Cancer

The body is made up of cells that contain genetic material, or DNA, that acts as an “instruction manual” for cell growth and function. Every single puff of a cigarette damages the DNA. When DNA is damaged, the “instruction manual” gets messed up, and the cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor. The body tries to repair the damage that smoking does to the DNA, but over time, smoking can wear down this repair system and lead to cancer (like lung cancer). Stomach and Hormones Flaccid Belly Bigger belly. Smokers have bigger bellies and less muscle than non-smokers. They are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, even if they don’t smoke every day. Smoking also makes it harder to control diabetes once you already have it.

Stomach ulcer

There’s evidence to suggest that smoking increases stomach acid production over time, and that it reduces bicarbonate production which will eventually lead to stomach ulcer.

Lower Estrogen Levels

Smoking lowers a female’s level of estrogen. Low estrogen levels can cause dry skin, thinning hair, and memory problems. Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. Smoking can also lead to early menopause, which increases the risk of developing conditions like heart disease.

Erectile Dysfunction

Failure to achieve

an erection Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction—the inability to get or keep and erection. Toxins from cigarette smoke can also damage the genetic material in sperm, which can cause infertility or genetic defects in children.

Blood and the Immune System

High White Blood Cell Count

When you smoke, the number of white blood cells (the cells that defend the body from infections) stays high. This is a sign that your body is under stress—constantly fighting against the inflammation and damage caused by tobacco. A high white blood cell count is like a signal from your body, letting you know you’ve been injured. White blood cell counts that stay elevated for a long time are linked with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

Delayed wound healing

Nutrients, minerals, and oxygen are all supplied to the tissue through the bloodstream. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which decreases levels of nutrients supplied to wounds. As a result, wounds take longer to heal. Slow wound healing increases the risk of infection after an injury or surgery and painful skin ulcers can develop, causing the tissue to slowly die.

Weakened Immune System

Cigarette smoke contains high levels of tar and other chemicals, which can make the immune system less effective at fighting off infections. This means one is more likely to get sick. Continued weakening of the immune system can make one more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. It also decreases your body’s ability to fight off cancer! Muscles and Bones

Tired Muscles

Muscle deterioration. When you smoke, less blood and oxygen flow to the muscles, making it harder to build muscle. The lack of oxygen also makes muscles tire more easily. Smokers have more muscle aches and pains than non-smokers.

More Broken Bones

Ingredients in cigarette smoke disrupt the natural cycle of bone health. Your body is less able to form healthy new bone tissue, and it breaks down existing bone tissue more rapidly.

Summary of the devastating effects

Immediate effects

Some of the effects that may be experienced after smoking tobacco include:

• initial stimulation, then reduction in activity of brain and nervous system

• increased alertness and concentration

• feelings of mild euphoria

• feelings of relaxation

• increased blood pressure and heart rate

• decreased blood flow to fingers and toes

• decreased skin temperature

• bad breath

• decreased appetite

• dizziness

• nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting

• headache

• coughing, due to smoke irritation.

Higher doses

A high dose of nicotine can cause a person to overdose.

This means that a person has taken more nicotine than their body can cope with.

The effects of very large doses can include:

• an increase in the unpleasant effects

• feeling faint

• confusion

• rapid decrease in blood pressure and breathing rate

• seizures

• respiratory arrest (stopping breathing) and death.

Long-term effects

Some of the long-term effects of smoking that may be experienced include: increased risk of stroke and brain damage, eye cataracts, yellowing of whites of eyes, loss of sense of smell and taste, yellow teeth, tooth decay, bad breath, cancer of the nose, lip, tongue and mouth, hearing loss, laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers, contributes to osteoporosis, shortness of breath, coughing, chronic bronchitis, triggering asthma, emphysema, heart disease, blockages in blood supply that can lead to a heart attack, high blood pressure (hypertension), myeloid leukaemia, a cancer that affects bone marrow and organs that make blood, stomach and bladder cancers, stomach ulcers, decreased appetite, grey appearance, early wrinkles, delayed wound healing, damage to blood vessel walls, increased likelihood of back pain, increased susceptibility to infection, lower fertility and increased risk of miscarriage, irregular periods, early menopause, damaged sperm and reduced sperm count and impotence.

Take Home

Compared to a non-smoker, a smoker faces these risks:

• fourteen times greater risk of dying from cancer of the lungs, throat, or mouth;

• four times greater risk of dying from cancer of the esophagus;

• two times greater risk of dying from a heart attack; and

• two times greater risk of dying from cancer of the bladder.

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