In recent times, medical research has been providing ample evidence that cigarette smoking signicantly increases the risk of developing fatal medical conditions and it , it is believed, is responsible for thirty percent of all deaths from cancer . smoking clearly represents the most important preventable cause of cancer and other fatal disease.
Discovered in the early 1800s, nicotine is the main active component of tobacco. It is, however, only a small ingredient of cigarette smoke, which contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds, out of which are 43 cancer-causing substances.
In addition to being responsible for more than 85 percent of lung cancers, smoking is associated with cancers of, amongst others, the mouth, stomach, and kidneys, and is thought to cause about 14 percent of leukemia and cancers of the neck.
It also causes medical problems such as pneumonia, bronchitis (inflammation of wind-pipe), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and influenza. The smoke experienced by many individuals in their daily lives is enough to produce substantial adverse effects on a person’s heart and lungs.
Passive smoking, the breathing in of the side-stream smoke from the burning of tobacco between puffs or of the smoke exhaled by a smoker, also causes a serious health hazard. This type of smoke contains more smaller particles and is therefore more likely to be deposited deep in the lungs.
As an illustration of the health hazards, on the case of a married couple where one spouse is a smoker and the oher one a non-smoker, the latter is believed to have a 30 per cent higher risk of death from heart disease due to passive smoking. In addition, the risk of lung cancer also increases over the years of exposure and the figure jumps to 80 percent if the partner has been smoking four packs a day for 20 years. It has been calculated that 17 percent of cases of lung cancer can be attributed to high levels of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke during childhood and adolescence.
The report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), suggests that people who smoke cigarettes are continually damaging their cadiovascular system, which adapts in order to compensate for the effect of smoking. It further states that people who do not smoke do not have the benefit of their system adapting to the smoke inhalation. Resultantly, the effects of passive smoking are far greater on non- smokers than on smokers.
This report emphasizes that cancer is not caused by a single element in cigarette smoke; harmful effects to health are caused by many components. Carbon monoxide, for example, competes with oxygen in red blood cells and interferes with the blood’s ability to deliver life-giving oxygen to the heart. Nicotine and other toxins in cigarette smoke activates small blood cells called platelets, which increases the likelihood of blood clots, thereby affecting blood circulation throughout the body.
The simplest and most cost-effective action is to establish smoke-free work places, schools and public places.
Dr Ali Ahmad
Email : [email protected]