According to a recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Even an occasional cigarette or breathing second-hand smoke can cause serious and immediate damage to your body, altering your DNA and increasing the risk of developing cancer. In fact, nearly one-third of all cancer deaths involve cigarette smoking. Exposure to cigarette smoke may cause cardiovascular disease and trigger a heart attack or stroke, because the smoke rapidly damages blood vessels throughout the body, making blood more likely to clot. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 different chemicals and compounds, hundreds of which are toxic: seventy are known to cause cancer. These chemicals found in tobacco smoke inflame the delicate lining of the lungs, reducing the ability of the lungs to efficiently exchange air, leading to chronic pulmonary lung disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Of course the longer a person smokes, the more damage is created by the toxic chemicals that can weaken the immune system and reduce your body’s ability to fight off cancers, including those cancers that are not associated with smoking. If you are trying to become pregnant, women should avoid all exposure to tobacco smoke, as chemicals in the smoke interfere with how your fallopian tubes function, and increase the risk for miscarriage or low birth weight. Men should be aware that chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the DNA in sperm and may reduce fertility or adversely affect fetal development. Diabetics should understand that tobacco smoke interferes with the regulation of blood sugar levels, putting them at higher risk for heart, lung, kidney and eye diseases and increased problems with circulation and nerve damage.
The report explores why cigarettes are addicting, and concludes that cigarettes are designed to addict. Cigarettes produced today deliver nicotine more rapidly to the heart, lungs and brain, making them more addictive than ever before. Nicotine is the leading ingredient that causes addition, but certainly not the only ingredient that promotes dependency and addiction. Cigarette manufacturers seek to “improve” the design of their products by adding more powerful compounds to affect the nicotine receptors in the brain and thus sustain the additive effects of cigarettes. Adolescents are at greater risk for addiction to cigarettes as their bodies are more sensitive to nicotine. Smoking “light” or low-tar cigarettes did not significantly reduce the risk of smoker-related diseases. Rather, these versions of cigarettes may have interfered with campaigns that encourage people to stop smoking.
“It is never too late to quit” smoking tobacco products. The report states that the risk of developing smoker-related diseases begins to drop as soon as an individual quits. Fortunately, there are medications available, both over the counter and by prescription, to help a smoker to “kick the habit”. To learn more,copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco.