DANGEROUS OF SMOKINGAlmost everybody knows that smoking is bad for the health. Images of blackened lungs lineschool hallways and hospital waiting rooms, but despite this people continue to take upsmoking. This may have to do with the pervasive romantic image of smoking -- an imagethat has nothing in common with reality.There are many ways to take tobacco. You can chew it, inhale it through the nose, andsmoke it in the form of cigars or cigarettes. No matter how its taken it is dangerous, butbecause smoking is the most popular way to consume tobacco it has also received thegreatest attention from the medical field and the media.When a smoker inhales a puff of cigarette smoke the large surface area of the lungs allowsnicotine to pass into the blood stream almost immediately. It is this nicotine "hit" thatsmokers crave, but there is a lot more to smoke than just nicotine. In fact, there are morethan 4000 chemical substances that make up cigarette smoke and many of them are toxic.Cigarette smoke is composed of 43 carcinogenic substances and more than 400 other toxinsthat can also be found in wood varnish, nail polish remover, and rat poison. All of thesesubstances accumulate in the body and can cause serious problems to the heart and lungs.Cancer is the most common disease associated with smoking. Smoking is the cause of 90%of lung cancer cases and is related to 30% of all cancer fatalities. Other smoking-relatedcancers include cancers of the mouth, pancreas, urinary bladder, kidney, stomach,esophagus, and larynx.Besides cancer, smoking is also related to several other diseases of the lungs. Emphysemaand bronchitis can be fatal and 75% of all deaths from these diseases are linked to smoking.Smokers have shorter lives than non-smokers. On average, smoking takes 15 years off yourlife span. This can be explained by the high rate of exposure to toxic substances which arefound in cigarette smoke.Smokers also put others at risk. The dangers of breathing in second-hand smoke are wellknown. Smokers harm their loved ones by exposing them to the smoke they exhale. All sortsof health problems are related to breathing in second-hand smoke. Children are especiallysusceptible to the dangers of second-hand smoke because their internal organs are stilldeveloping. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more vulnerable to asthma,sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.Smoking can also be dangerous for unborn children. Mothers who smoke are more likely tosuffer from miscarriages, bleeding and nausea, and babies of smoking mothers havereduced birth weights or may be premature. These babies are more susceptible to suddeninfant death syndrome and may also have lifelong health complications due to chestinfections and asthma.It is never too late to give up smoking, even those who have smoked for 20 years or morecan realize tremendous health benefits from giving up the habit.
What is secondhand smoke?Secondhand smoke (SHS) is also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). SHS is a mixture of2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: Sidestream smoke – smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar Mainstream smoke – the smoke exhaled by a smokerEven though we think of these as the same, they aren’t. Sidestream smoke has higher concentrationsof cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) than mainstream smoke. And, it has smaller particles thanmainstream smoke, which make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily.When non-smokers are exposed to SHS it is called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. Non-smokers who breathe in SHS take in nicotine and toxic chemicals by the same route smokers do. Themore SHS you breathe, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body.Why is secondhand smoke a problem?Secondhand smoke causes cancerSecondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by the USEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US National Toxicology Program, and the InternationalAgency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization.Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicalsare known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer.SHS has been linked to lung cancer. There is also some evidence suggesting it may be linked withchildhood leukemia and cancers of the larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), brain, bladder, rectum,stomach, and breast.IARC reported in 2009 that parents who smoked before and during pregnancy were more likely tohave a child with hepatoblastoma. This rare cancer is thought to start while the child is still in theuterus. Compared with non-smoking parents, the risk was about twice as high if only one parentsmoked, but nearly 5 times higher when both parents smoked.
Secondhand smoke and breast cancerWhether SHS increases the risk of breast cancer is an issue that’s still being studied. Bothmainstream and SHS have about 20 chemicals that, in high concentrations, cause breast cancer inrodents. And we know that in humans, chemicals from tobacco smoke reach breast tissue and arefound in breast milk.One reason the link between SHS and breast cancer risk in human studies is uncertain is becausebreast cancer risk has not been shown to be increased in active smokers. One possible explanationfor this is that tobacco smoke might have different effects on breast cancer risk in smokers and inthose who are exposed to SHS.A report from the California Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 concluded that the evidenceregarding SHS and breast cancer is “consistent with a causal association” in younger women. Thismeans the SHS acts as if it could be a cause of breast cancer in these women. The 2006 US SurgeonGeneral’s report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, sums it upby saying that there is “suggestive but not sufficient” evidence of a link.Research is still being done, but women should be told that this possible link to breast cancer is yetanother reason to avoid being around SHS.Secondhand smoke causes other kinds of diseases and deathSecondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. Each year in the United States alone, it isresponsible for: An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are current non-smokers About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults Worse asthma and asthma-related problems in up to 1 million asthmatic children Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (lung and bronchus) in children under 18 months of age, with 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year Children exposed to secondhand smoke are much more likely to be put into intensive care when they have the flu, they are in the hospital longer, and are more likely to need breathing tubes than kids who aren’t exposed to SHS In the United States, the costs of extra medical care, illness, and death caused by SHS are over $10 billion per year