Effects of Smoking on the body
Smoking leads to diseases and disability, it harms nearly every organ of the body. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. Below are some of the effects of smoking on the body;
Central nervous system
One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds and makes you feel more energized for a while. But as that effect wears off, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is extremely habit-forming, which is why people find smoking so difficult to quit.
Physical withdrawal from nicotine can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.
When you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that can damage your lungs. Over time, this damage leads to a variety of problems. Along with increased infections, people who smoke are at higher risk for chronic nonreversible lung conditions such as:
- emphysema, the destruction of the air sacs in your lungs
- chronic bronchitis, permanent inflammation that affects the lining of the breathing tubes of the lungs
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung diseases
- lung cancer
Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause temporary congestion and respiratory discomfort as your lungs and airways begin to heal. Increased mucus production right after quitting smoking is a positive sign that your respiratory system is recovering.
Smoking damages your entire cardiovascular system. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood. Over time, the ongoing narrowing, along with damage to the blood vessels, can cause peripheral artery disease.
Smoking also raises blood pressure, weakens blood vessel walls, and increases blood clots. Together, this raises your risk of stroke.
You’re also at an increased risk of worsening heart disease if you’ve already had heart bypass surgery, a heart attack, or a stent placed in a blood vessel.
Smoking not only impacts your cardiovascular health, but also the health of those around you who don’t smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke carries the same risk to a nonsmoker as someone who does smoke. Risks include stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
Integumentary system (skin, hair, and nails)
The more obvious signs of smoking involve skin changes. Substances in tobacco smoke actually change the structure of your skin. A recent study has shown that smoking dramatically increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer).
Your fingernails and toenails aren’t immune from the effects of smoking. Smoking increases the likelihood of fungal nail infections.
Hair is also affected by nicotine. An older study found it increases hair loss, balding, and graying.
Smoking increases the risk of mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus cancer. Smokers also have higher rates of pancreatic cancer. Even people who “smoke but don’t inhale” face an increased risk of mouth cancer.
Smoking also has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you’ll develop insulin resistance. That puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications, which tend to develop at a faster rate than in people who don’t smoke.
Sexuality and reproductive system
Nicotine affects blood flow to the genital areas of both men and women. For men, this can decrease sexual performance. For women, this can result in sexual dissatisfaction by decreasing lubrication and the ability to reach orgasm. Smoking may also lower sex hormone levels in both men and women. This can possibly lead to decreased sexual desire.
Despite the health consequences and premature deaths caused by tobacco use, the good news is that these consequences are avoidable.
Tobacco Atlas (2018) Health Effects Extracted from; https://tobaccoatlas.org/topic/health-effects/
Centre for Disease Control Tobacco (2018) Health Effects Extracted from; https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/index.htm
Health Line, (2017, May 9). The Effects of Smoking on the Body Extracted from https://www.healthline.com/health/smoking/effects-on-body#1