Tobacco’s effect on health
May 5, 2005
In my line of work, I see very few smokers. By the time they get into an exercise routine, they have already given up smoking and made the commitment toward better health. But since I also hold a class for people with breathing difficulties, I try to stay informed regarding new information on tobacco usage. None of it is good.
Whether you chew, sniff or inhale tobacco, your body is not able to metabolize or eliminate the overload of foreign substance to the metabolic system.
What the tobacco smoke comes into contact is where the greatest adverse effect is felt. The lungs, mouth, larynx, esophagus (where tobacco juice is swallowed) are leading areas of disease. Then the damage continues on down to the pancreas, kidneys and the bladder.
These are the areas that are affected by the substance the body absorbs or metabolizes from tobacco compounds. In 1912, lung cancer was a rare occurrence; today, lung cancer kills more men age 35 to 54 than any other form of cancer. Think what we could do to ourselves in another 70 years! The risk of lung cancer is dependent principally upon cigarette smoking and its intensity. Your risk depends on the tar content, depth of inhalation and number of cigarettes smoked.
The most alarming statistics are in the areas of lung, mouth, larynx and esophagus cancer. Take away the use of tobacco, and cancer of the mouth and oral cavity would be cut 80 percent in men and 40 percent in women. Cancer of the larynx would be reduced 90 percent in men and 70 percent in women. That’s a sizable reduction. Smoking, combined with alcohol, is the cause of a 50 percent increase in esophagus cancer in men and 20 percent increase in women.
If you smoke, your chances of heart attack are three times greater than those of a nonsmoker. You are also twice as likely to get peptic ulcers, both gastric and duodenal, and to die of them, as someone who does not smoke.
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Smoking interferes with the body’s immune system and increases its susceptibility to infection. A smoking mother endangers her unborn child since the placenta cannot promote growth as effectively as a nonsmoker’s. Mothers who smoke also experience a higher rate of miscarriages and stillbirths.
These are just a few of the frightening facts relating to the use of tobacco. Now that you know some of the negative results pertaining to the use of tobacco, maybe it is time you begin to consider a plan to break your habit.
There are several factors that play a part in the success of your plan to quit: pleasurable relaxation, craving or psychological addiction and satisfaction from handling a cigarette. Prevention is the key word here.
If you have not smoked by the age of 20, you probably will never start. If you are already a tobacco user, then learning self-management and self-control techniques are important in withdrawal. Whatever method and reason you find to give up the tobacco habit is not the point.
The one fact that stands out is for life extension and life enjoyment – the only decision that really counts is that you decide to quit. Do it for selfish reasons, do it for you.
n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.