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The Hazards of Smoking

The hazards of smoking are numerous. Governments and the medical profession continually urge us to give up the dreaded weed for the sake of our health, but what are those effects on our health. Most people think the main hazard of smoking is that you might develop lung cancer, but often follow this up with “well you gotta die of something!” Whilst the link with lung cancer and smoking is important, there are so many more hazards that the habit causes. Apart from setting yourself or your home on fire, smoking hazards include:

Cancers:

Mouth cancer

Throat cancer

Lung cancer

Stomach Cancer

Bladder cancer

Cervical cancer (all women who have had a positive pap smear are now advised to quit smoking)

Other hazards

Heart disease

High blood pressure

Stroke

Poor circulation and loss of limbs

Gum disease

Tooth decay

Ear infections

Respiratory diseases

Smoking can make asthma worse and causes:

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Probably the most common illness of the long list above is COPD, a group of diseases that overlap, including, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and long-standing asthma. COPD is progressive; it travels a path through mild and moderate stages before becoming severe. At its mildest, the only symptom may be a morning cough (smokers cough) and not being able to keep up with your peers regarding fitness. Unfortunately, most smokers think that a morning cough is ‘normal.’ It is not, healthy non-smokers don’t have a morning cough – the cough is a sign of damage.

Sadly many smokers go on to develop moderate COPD, which can affect daily life. Breathlessness becomes worse, and the individual may struggle with simple things like walking upstairs, or walking to the shops. Getting dressed in the morning can leave them out of breath and gasping for air. At its worst, the disease could mean the person is attached to an oxygen tank for 16 hours a day. Life is cruel, and in addition to this disease, smoking often throws in heart disease or stroke for good measure.

Passive smoking, or second hand smoking; that smoke inhaled when other people smoke, is just as bad as smoking, and there are now many law suits from people whose lives have been put at risk by another person’s smoking habit.

New research shows that third-hand smoke; the smoke that clings to a person’s hair or clothes after they have had a cigarette is also harmful, particularly where the individual then has close contact with another person, for example in nursing, or a parent/baby relationship. Even though a parent may smoke outside the home, away from the baby, their third-hand smoke causes the child to have increased risks for asthma, respiratory problems and ear infections.

If only quitting were as simple as knowing the hazards of smoking, but at least arming yourself with the knowledge is a start.