Health Effects Of Cigarettes

Grayscale photography of young man smoking a cigarette in front of a girl

Smoking A Lot Of Cigarettes Lately

The most addicting drug known to mankind, arguably, is nicotine which is found in cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. More than 400,000 deaths each year in the United States are attributable to smoking cigarettes.

90% of all lung cancer deaths are due to smoking. More women die from lung cancer than breast cancer. Smoking damages the small airways and alveoli in your lungs, which are responsible for exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen. Oxygen is breathed in while CO2 is breathed out.

Some lung diseases caused by smoking include lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is caused by the bronchial tubes becoming narrowed, inflamed and secreting a lot of mucus, leading to chronic coughing and difficulty breathing.

Emphysema is caused by the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) thinning and rupturing, resulting in larger air spaces instead of many small ones. Paradoxically, this makes it more difficult to breath due to less surface area available for gas exchange at the alveoli, resulting in shortness of breath.

Smoking can also damage your heart and brain. Your blood vessels become thicker and narrower, promoting several physiological changes: an increase in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate and clot formation. Clots can form in the blood vessels supplying your heart, restricting blood flow and resulting in coronary heart disease. Small pieces of clots can also break off and travel to the brain and cause a blockage, resulting in a stroke.

Smoking causes many different types of cancer:

  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Renal cancer

Smoking during pregnancy not only affects the mother but also the baby:

  • Can cause an ectopic pregnancy
  • Can cause a preterm delivery
  • Can cause stillbirth
  • Can cause low birth weight
  • Can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Smoking also causes:

  • Damage to your teeth and gums
  • Weaker bones (especially in women past childbearing age)
  • Reduced fertility in men by damaging sperm
  • An increased risk for developing eye damage (cataracts and age-related macular degeneration)
  • Diabetes mellitus type II
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • A decreased immune function, increasing your vulnerability to bacterial and viral infections

And lastly, smoking is very psychologically addicting. So why consume this legal substance that kills your body and imprisons your mind? It is not even worth it to try it once. You have no idea how your mind will react to it; you may never try it again or find yourself in a deadly, passionate love affair!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Chemical Compound Of Nicotine

Addicted blonde woman wearing blue hoodie and smoking a cigarette

Nicotine Effects

Nicotine is a toxic yellowish liquid that is the active ingredient in tobacco. It acts as a receptor agonist at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In small doses it acts as a stimulant, but in larger doses it blocks the action of autonomic nerve and skeletal muscle cells.

Nicotine is highly addictive based on drug-reinforced behavior; the process of associating a drug with a certain behavior. For instance, you may start off smoking one cigarette at a party. The next time you attend a party, you may smoke a couple of more cigarettes.

The next time you have a beer at your friend’s house, you may smoke a cigarette for the first time away from a party setting. Afterwards, you make smoke a cigarette every time you drive to your friend’s house! Your brain attempts to enhance every behavior that is related to previous nicotinic behaviors; this is the addiction!

Nicotine creates a psychological dependence in the user; every previous activity under the influence of nicotine will make the user want to repeat that activity with nicotine again. Nicotine has a way of making behaviors more enjoyable; the second that you inhale the first puff, you feel an immediate sense of relaxation as if your stress is being sucked out of you.

Take a look at Mayo Clinic to understand nicotine dependence. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 400,000 deaths per year in the United States and more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. That is 10 years stolen by nicotine!

The DSM Ready Community is here for anyone who is suffering from an addiction. Through support and the sharing of our stories, we can get past any roadblock that life brings us!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)