How Smoking Affects Your Body

According to data from World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019, there are around 1.1 billion people smoked tobacco and approximately 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries.

Each year, more than 8 million people around the world die from illnesses related to tobacco use. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, and at least 250 of these are known to be harmful to the body, including nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.

Nicotine is an addictive substance that affects the brain and nervous system. It acts as a stimulant and increases heart rate and breathing. At higher doses nicotine is a deadly poison that has been used as an insecticide.

Tar is a sticky brown substance that remains after tobacco is burned. It is deposited in the lungs and contains chemicals called carcinogens, which can cause cancer when inhaled.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas formed when tobacco burns. It lowers the blood’s ability to carry oxygen and constricts blood vessels, increasing the workload of the heart.

How Does Smoking Affects The Body?

Smoking has been found to harm nearly every organ and part of the body. The effects depend on the age when a person first started smoking, the number of cigarettes that the person smokes per day, and the number of years he or she has smoked.

Lungs

Smoking can seriously damage your lungs. It can causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of progressive lung diseases that include asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways and destruction of lung tissue.

The risk of COPD increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years a person has been smoking. Currently, there is no cure for this disease but you can slow down the progression, and stopping smoking is the most effective way to do this.

Smoking also causes many other lung diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and lung cancer.

Heart

Smoking causes high blood pressure and increase your risk of blood clots. All of these increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack, and if you smoke you have twice the risk of dying from coronary heart disease than lifetime non-smokers.

Arms and Legs

Smoking can damage blood vessel walls, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the arms and legs. Over time, this can lead to peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

In serious cases, this may result in severe pain, loss of a leg, increased risk of coronary artery disease, and carotid atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the brain.

Skin

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen to the skin, causing your skin to be dry and lose elasticity. This means smoking may speed up the aging of your skin. Smoking even gives you a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks, which can cause you to look gaunt.

Brain

If you smoke, you are more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t smoke. In fact, smoking increases your risk of having a stroke by at least 50%. And, by smoking, you double your risk of dying from a stroke.

Smoking increases your risk of a stroke by increasing your chances of developing a brain aneurysm. This is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall.

This can rupture or burst which will lead to a serious condition known as a subarachnoid haemorrhage, an uncommon type of stroke which can cause extensive brain damage and death.

Stomach

Smoking may increase the chance of developing stomach cancer or ulcers. Tobacco is especially linked to stomach cancers that occur near the esophagus.

Smoking can weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of your esophagus and allow acid from the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus, causing reflux symptoms.

Bones

Smoking can cause your bones to become weak and brittle. This because the chemicals in cigarette smoke may interfere with the natural cycle of bone health. It also causes existing bone tissue to break down more rapidly, leading to low bone density, especially for older women.

Women need to be especially careful as they are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than non-smokers.

Eyes

Smoking can lead to several eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and graves’ ophthalmopathy. The worst effect of smoking in this area is that it can cause permanent blindness to the eyes.

Mouth and teeth

Smoking causes unattractive problems like bad breath and tooth discoloration. It can also cause gum disease and damage to your sense of taste. The most serious effect of smoking on this area is an increased risk of developing cancer in your tongue, throat, and lips.

Reproduction and fertility

Smoking can cause male impotence as it damages blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. It can also damage sperm, reduce sperm count and cause testicular cancer.

For women, smoking can reduce fertility and increase your risk of cervical cancer. Smoking while you are pregnant can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, and illness.

The Bottom Line

Smoking affects a smoker’s health in many ways, harming nearly every organ of the body. Many of the health problems linked to smoking can steal away a person’s quality of life long before death. Quitting smoking, especially at younger ages, can reduce your risk of developing these problems. Try these quit smoking tips to kick the bad habit now.

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