Cigarette smoking has long been considered to be dangerous for health. Active and passive smoking have been associated with risks of dangerous diseases, and the reason for this is the number of chemicals present in cigarette smoke that can damage the human body. There are at least 80 different chemicals used that are associated with a higher risk of cancer, including formaldehyde, cadmium, benzene, arsenic, and tar. Nicotine is an addictive chemical which triggers a smoker’s habit, and a number of other chemicals like carbon monoxide, ammonia, and cyanide damage cells and systems in the body.
With each puff, the chemicals in a cigarette are drawn in and begin interfering with cell functions. For this reason, tobacco smoking is associated with over 25 different diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking is responsible for around five million deaths per year, and it is a bigger cause of disabilities and death than any other single disease. The organization also estimates that over ten million will die by 2020 due to excessive smoking, which accounts for around 17 percent of deaths in developed countries. There are currently over a billion smokers in the world today.
Why do people smoke?
There are a number of reasons as to why people smoke. Young smokers often start because of peer pressure and because they believe smoking is ‘cool’. This group of smokers is at a higher risk of getting addicted and suffering the consequences later on. Most adults smoke because of the ‘relaxing’ properties associated with cigarettes. Smoking helps them relax and cope with stress.
Damage associated with smoking
Over the past several decades, there have been close to a hundred studies on smoking and the damage it does to the human body. While many of these studies have been criticized for being biased against smoking, there is no denying the evidence that smoking does a lot of harm to the body. For example, it has been proved that smokers who are between 30-50 years of age are five times more likely than non-smokers to suffer from a heart attack. The habit is also associated with coronary artery disease, where the blood supply to the heart is blocked because of a blockage or narrowing of blood vessels, which stops the heart from receiving enough oxygen and vital nutrients. Apart from this, smoking is known to increase the risk of stroke because of the damage the cigarette’s chemicals do to the arteries of the brain and heart. Lifetime smokers are 50 percent more likely to suffer a smoking-related death, and most of them will die prematurely.
Lung problems and smoking
While smoking’s association with some diseases is questionable, it is a fact that smoking does the most damage to the lungs, because the lung tissues are directly affected by the chemicals inhaled from a cigarette. Smoking is known to increase the risk of lung cancer by a large margin. For men, the risk increases 22 times and for women, it increases by 12 times. The long term survival rates of lung cancer are poor too, making it one of the most difficult forms of cancer to treat.