The claim that tobacco is terrible for your health is no secret. Smoking is one of the leading causes of illness and death worldwide, killing around 6 million people a year. These figures are alarming, but more worrying is to think that more than 500,000 of these people are passive smokers. This means that the effects of tobacco not only affect those who put a cigarette in their mouth but extend to those who are indirectly exposed to tobacco smoke. Although there is a greater awareness of its harmful effects today, millions of people continue to feel this bad habit.
In this FastlyHealarticle, we will expose the effects of tobacco on health, both for smokers and passive smokers, for you to know how it acts in our bodies and how dangerous it can be.
Table of Contents
The components of tobacco
The harmful effects of tobacco on health are due to the different components that act in our body, causing damage to other parts of it.
- Bitumen . It is one of the most well-known components of tobacco that can cause cancer by containing a series of chemicals, including carcinogens. It is one of the main reasons teeth and nails become stained, and lung damage occurs.
- Carbon monoxide . Our blood comprises a protein known as hemoglobin, responsible for transporting oxygen through the blood throughout the body. The problem is that this gas takes the place of oxygen in the blood and, as a consequence, our body does not have enough oxygen in case a higher level is necessary, for example, when exercising.
- Hydrocyanic acid. It is a chemical compound that damages the system by which the lungs eliminate external agents. As a result, the chemicals in tobacco adhere to the lungs, accumulating and causing damage.
- Oxidizing agents . They contain free radicals and chemicals that can damage the heart muscles. They provide us with cholesterol, fat that accumulates in the arteries and negatively affects blood pressure.
- Metals . Tobacco contains metals, some of them carcinogenic, among which we find: cadmium, arsenic, and lead, which increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Nicotine: responsible for addiction
Of all the components present in tobacco, nicotine is one of the most dangerous. Although it does not directly produce adverse health effects, it is the main culprit for tobacco addiction. It is an addictive drug that causes smokers to continue smoking by requiring a specific dose. The higher the demand for nicotine, the greater the total number of cigarettes a person will smoke per day. This is one of the main problems when quitting smoking since tobacco causes the need to inhale nicotine from time to time because the body demands its dose of nicotine.
If you want to quit smoking, a good option is to consider tobacco substitutes that can help.
Effects on the respiratory system
It is perhaps one of the most well-known effects of tobacco since its signs can be shown more frequently. People who smoke or are exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to suffer from various airway conditions. This happens because smoking increases the secretions of the bronchi and trachea, which can generate a chronic cough, also known as smoker’s cough, which takes place in the morning. From the moment a person starts smoking, their lungs are affected. Thus, for example, in the case of adolescents, their airways may be more obstructed, and there is less development of lung function.
Over time, the lungs lose their ability to eliminate harmful substances that come from outside. Hence, a person who smokes also has a greater chance of suffering from respiratory infections, colds, and the flu.
Effects on the cardiovascular system
The effects of tobacco on cardiovascular health are some of the first to appear, but they are also among the first to stop affecting when this habit is abandoned. When we smoke a cigarette, blood sugar levels rise, and after a few minutes, we feel more tired. Nicotine increases blood pressure by affecting blood flow. In addition, tobacco also lowers good cholesterol levels and increases the bad ones, which translates into an increased risk of arteriosclerosis. Consequently, a smoker has a higher risk of having a heart attack. In this article, we explain how to cleanse the lungs with juices.
Effects on the nervous system
As we explained previously, nicotine is the primary drug in tobacco that causes addiction in smokers. This substance reaches the brain quickly and acts as a stimulant of the nervous system, making us feel more active for a short period. However, this effect does not take long to disappear, and when it does, it causes a feeling of fatigue.
On the other hand, our body has a hormone called cortisol, which increases with stress. This hormone decreases the effects of nicotine, so the higher the stress levels, the higher the dose of nicotine will have to be for it to take effect in our brain.
Effects on the digestive system
Tobacco has adverse effects on the digestive system, starting with the mouth and tongue. Smokers are more likely to develop oral problems such as gingivitis, leading to periodontitis and causing tooth loss or bad breath. Smoking also raises the risk of cancer of the mouth, tongue, larynx, esophagus, and pancreatic and kidney cancer. In addition, another of the health effects of tobacco is an increase in insulin levels, which translates into a greater possibility of suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Effects on the skin, hair, and nails
They are also other the health effects of tobacco that have an apparent short-term impact. The toxic components of tobacco accelerate premature aging of the skin; it causes discoloration of the skin and nails to a yellowish tone and stains on the teeth. Likewise, it can also cause damage to the hair, making it more brittle and dry. These effects of tobacco are because it reduces the levels of vitamin A and, consequently, alters the levels of collagen and elastin, essential substances in the health of the skin. In addition, tobacco also induces further dehydration of the epidermis, making the skin appear drier.
On the other hand, we must not forget the foul smell that tobacco generates, whether we smoke or are exposed to cigarette smoke, making us carry this unpleasant aroma throughout the day.
Effects on the reproductive system
Another of the effects caused by tobacco is a reduction in blood flow. If we take into account that the erection takes place due to an accumulation of blood in the penis, this reduction in blood flow could lead to less complete erections. In addition, in both men and women, smoking can make it difficult to reach orgasm and also affects the risk of infertility. Also, women may experience a higher risk of early menopause than women who do not smoke.
Along the same lines, it is interesting to consult the effects of tobacco on pregnancy.
Other facts about smoking
- Tobacco is responsible for 90% of lung cancers.
- 50% of bladder cancers are related to tobacco.
- Each cigarette we consume reduces our life by 11 minutes.
- Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
- According to data from the World Health Organization, about 40% of children are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke.
In this article, you can see what happens in your body when you stop smoking so that you can see the positive effects that we can achieve to remove this habit from our life.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.