As a young man or woman, you might be hooked to smoking through peer pressure or sheer accident of history. Yes, you might be lured into it through your friends’ uncle or aunts who introduced you to smoking accidentally as they sent you to light cigarettes for them.

wpid-smoking.jpgThe sweet advertisements of various brands of cigarettes on our radio and televisions might also be good enough to win you over. However since smoking is habit forming you might be finding it difficult to quit from it and sadly cigarettes could push you to drink alcohol or hard drugs.

As you get along smoking openly or secretly you would be heading towards various sicknesses likely to lead to life threatening conditions. The advice given to all habitual smokers is: do all you can to quit from the habit. It is not easy to quit smoking. According to doctors and psychologists; the way to stop smoking is never to start.

Yes it is true because it is difficult to stop smoking. The following accounts on smoking would reveal how dangerous smoking is to our health. On reading this article by Christian Nordqvist I expect all smokers in Ghana and abroad to stop smoking voluntarily. Admittedly it is not easy to stop smoking but it would take will power and resistance from influential smokers to kick off the habit. Call to inform me of your difficulties or when you stop smoking.

Smoking is responsible for several diseases, such as cancer, long-term (chronic) respiratory diseases, and heart disease, as well as premature death throughout the world. Over 480,000 people in the USA and 100,000 in the UK die because of smoking each year. According the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), $92 billion is lost each year from lost productivity resulting from smoking-related deaths.
Of the more than 2.4 million deaths in the USA annually, over 480,000 are caused by smoking.1
Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the world. Recent studies have found that smokers can undermine the health of non-smokers in some environments.

In an article published online in Medical News Today on 30 May 2013, we presented data demonstrating that, on average, smokers die ten years sooner than non-smokers.

Smoking causes cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in the world. According to the American Lung Association, 90% of male lung cancer patients develop their disease because of smoking. In addition, male smokers are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have never smoked. Female smokers are 13 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have never smoked.2
In addition to lung cancer, smokers also have a significantly higher risk of developing:

Smoking contributes to 80% of lung cancer deaths in women and 90% of lung cancer deaths in men (American Lung Association).

Bladder cancer, Kidney, Cancers of the pharynx and larynx (throat cancer, Mouth, Esophagus cancer, Cancer of the pancreas, cancer, some types of leukemia, Cancer of the nose and sinuses, Cervical, cancer, Ovarian, In some cases, also breast cancer.

According to Cancer Research UK, one person dies every 15 minutes in Great Britain from lung cancer.
Smoking also raises the risk of cancer recurrences (the cancer coming back).
Why does smoking raise cancer risk?

Scientists say there are over 4,000 compounds in cigarette smoke. A sizeable number of them are toxic – they are bad for us and damage our cells. Some of them cause cancer – they are carcinogenic.
Tobacco smoke consists mainly of:

 Nicotine – this is not carcinogenic. However, it is highly addictive. Smokers find it very hard to quit because they are hooked on the nicotine. Nicotine is an extremely fast-acting drug. It reaches the brain within 15 seconds of being inhaled. If cigarettes and other tobacco products had no nicotine, the number of people who smoke every day would drop drastically. Without nicotine, the tobacco industry would collapse.
Nicotine is used as a highly controlled insecticide. Exposure to sufficient amounts can lead to vomiting, seizures, depression of the CNS (central nervous system), and growth retardation. It can also undermine a fetus’ proper development.

 Carbon Monoxide – this is a poisonous gas. It has no smell or taste. The body finds it hard to differentiate carbon monoxide from oxygen and absorbs it into the bloodstream. Faulty boilers emit dangerous carbon monoxide, as do car exhausts.

If there is enough carbon monoxide around you and you inhale it, you can go into a coma and die. Carbon monoxide decreases muscle and heart function, it causes fatigue, weakness, and dizziness. It is especially toxic for babies still in the womb, infants and individuals with heart or lung disease.

 Tar – consists of several cancer-causing chemicals. When a smoker inhales cigarette smoke, 70% of the tar remains in the lungs. Try the handkerchief test. Fill the mouth with smoke, don’t inhale, and blow the smoke through the handkerchief. There will be a sticky, brown stain on the cloth. Do this again, but this time inhale and the blow the smoke through the cloth, there will only be a very faint light brown stain.

We have published another article containing a longer list of harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke and how they can harm you.

Smoking and heart/cardiovascular disease

Smoking causes an accumulation of fatty substances in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, the main contributor to smoking-related deaths. Smoking is also a significant contributory factor in coronary heart disease risk. People with coronary heart disease are much more likely to have a heart attack.
Tobacco smoke raises the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When combined with other risk factors, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, physical inactivity, or diabetes, the risk of serious, chronic illness and death is huge.

Smoking also worsens heart disease risk factors. It raises blood pressure, makes it harder to do exercise, makes the blood clot more easily than it should. People who have undergone bypass surgery and smoke have a higher risk of recurrent coronary heart disease.
Smoking: Do You Really Know the Risks?

According to the American Heart Association: You probably know about the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, but did you know smoking is also linked to heart disease, stroke and other chronic lung diseases? Smoking can also increase your risk for cancer of the bladder, throat and mouth, kidneys, cervix and pancreas. Thinking about quitting? Look at the facts!

Why you should quit?

• Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.
• Almost one third of deaths from coronary heart disease are attributable to smoking and secondhand smoke.
• Smoking is linked to about 90% of lung cancer cases in the United States.
• About 20 percent of adult men and about 16 percent of adult women smoke.
• The highest percentage of people who smoke are between the ages of 21 and 34.
• About 54 percent of American children ages 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke.
• On average, smokers die more than 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.
• You can be one of the millions of people who successfully quit every year.

What makes cigarettes so toxic and dangerous?

There are more than 5,000 chemical components found in cigarette smoke and hundreds of them are harmful to human health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are a few examples:
• 1,3-Butadiene is a chemical used to manufacture rubber. It is considered to be a carcinogenic chemical that can cause certain blood cancers.
• Arsenic is used to preserve wood. Some arsenic compounds have been linked to cancer of the lung, skin, liver, and bladder.
• Benzene is used to manufacture other chemicals. It can cause cancer, particularly leukemia, in humans.
• Cadmium is a metal used to make batteries. Cadmium and cadmium compounds can cause lung cancer and have been associated with kidney and prostate cancer.
• Chromium VI is used to make alloy metals, paint and dyes. Chromium VI compounds cause lung cancer and have been associated with cancer of the nose and nasal sinuses.
• Formaldehyde is used to make other chemicals and resins. It is also used as a preservative. Formaldehyde causes leukemia and cancer in respiratory tissues.

• Polonium-210 is a radioactive element that has been shown to cause cancer in animals.
• Tar is not one single chemical, instead it describes several chemicals that are in tobacco smoke. It leaves a sticky, brown residue on your lungs, teeth and fingernails.
Carbon monoxide & nicotine: A dangerous duo

Carbon monoxide is a harmful gas you inhale when you smoke. Once in your lungs, it’s transferred to your bloodstream. Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen that is carried in the red blood cells. It also increases the amount of cholesterol that is deposited into the inner lining of the arteries which, over time, can cause the arteries to harden. This leads to heart disease, artery disease and possibly heart attack.

Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical. It can cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, flow of blood to the heart and a narrowing of the arteries (vessels that carry blood). Nicotine may also contribute to the hardening of the arterial walls, which in turn, may lead to a heart attack. This chemical can stay in your body for six to eight hours depending on how often you smoke. Also, as with most addictive substances, there are some side effects of withdrawal.
Second-Hand Smoke

Smokers aren’t the only ones affected by tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard for nonsmokers, especially children. Nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart diseases when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work. Secondhand smoke promotes illness, too. Children of smokers have many more respiratory infections than do children of nonsmokers. Excerpted and adapted from “When Risk Factors Unite,” appearing in the Stroke Connection Magazine January/February 2005 (Science update May 2008)

These are just a few of the dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes; there are many more. But you do not have to spend the rest of your life giving in to your addiction! Thousands of people kick the habit every year, and you can be one of them. It may not be easy, but you can do it! .

After reading the articles above please stop smoking or don’t start smoking if you are not a smoker and please call to share your experience with us.

Source: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Disclaimer: News Ghana is not responsible for the reportage or opinions of contributors published on the website.

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