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Wednesday, November 23, 2011



How Smoking Affects Your Body
There's hardly a part of the human body that's not affected by the chemicals in the cigarettes you smoke. Let's take a tour of your body to look at how smoking affects it.
Starting at the Top
As a smoker, you're at risk for cancer of the mouth. Tobacco smoke can also cause gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. The teeth become unsightly and yellow. Smokers may experience frequent headaches. And lack of oxygen and narrowed blood vessels to the brain can lead to strokes.
Lungs and Bronchi
Moving down to your chest, smoke passes through the bronchi, or breathing tubes. Hydrogen cyanide and other chemicals in the smoke attack the lining of the bronchi, inflaming them and causing that chronic smoker's cough. Because the bronchi are weakened, you're more likely to get bronchial infections. Mucus secretion in your lungs is impaired, also leading to chronic coughing. Smokers are 10 times as likely to get lung cancer and emphysema as nonsmokers.
Smoking and the Heart
The effects of smoking on your heart are devastating. Nicotine raises blood pressure and makes the blood clot more easily. Carbon monoxide robs the blood of oxygen and leads to the development of cholesterol deposits on the artery walls. All of these effects add up to an increased risk of heart attack. In addition, the poor circulation resulting from cholesterol deposits can cause strokes, loss of circulation in fingers and toes and impotence.
Smoking and the Body's Organs
The digestive system is also affected. The tars in smoke can trigger cancer of the esophagus and throat. Smoking causes increased stomach acid secretion, leading to heartburn and ulcers. Smokers have higher rates of deadly pancreatic cancer. Many of the carcinogens from cigarettes are excreted in the urine where their presence can cause bladder cancer, which is often fatal. High blood pressure from smoking can damage the kidneys.
The Results
The health effects of smoking have results we can measure. Forty percent of men who are heavy smokers will die before they reach retirement age, as compared to only 18 percent of nonsmokers. Women who smoke face an increased risk of cervical cancer, and pregnant women who smoke take a chance with the health of their unborn babies.
But the good news is that when you quit smoking your body begins to repair itself. Ten years after you quit, your body has repaired most of the damage smoking caused. Those who wait until cancer or emphysema has set in aren't so lucky—these conditions are usually fatal. It's one more reason to take the big step and quit now.
How Smoking Affects Your Mind
·      Mary smokes to relax when she's feeling tense.
·      Bob smokes to feel more alert when he's feeling dull.
·      Others smoke when they're depressed or bored, or to overcome feelings of anger or grief.
How can a mere cigarette be so many things to so many people? The answer lies in the chemicals in cigarettes and the powerful psychological effects they have.
Nicotine—A Stimulant
Nicotine, the chemical that makes addicts out of cigarette smokers, is a stimulant with properties similar to those of cocaine and amphetamine (speed). Nicotine provides the pick-me-up that smokers feel. It increases heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, and makes the smoker feel more alert. Unfortunately these effects wear off after 20 minutes or so and the smoker is left craving another pick-me-up.
Acetaldehyde and Carbon Monoxide—Sedatives
Acetaldehyde, a byproduct of both cigarette smoke and alcohol, has some sedative properties. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes makes you feel dull the way you would in a stuffy room with not enough air. These chemicals seem to dampen some people's feelings of tension, anger or strong emotion.
Other Psychological Effects
For many, the act of smoking itself—pausing in one's work, lighting up, exhaling a certain way—becomes a comforting ritual in itself. The smoker may be involved in a private fantasy that relieves feelings of boredom and meaninglessness. Smoking may go hand in hand with other activities, such as drinking coffee or alcohol or eating dessert. These "triggers" are why quitting smoking involves more than just kicking the nicotine habit.
The Force of Addiction
Sooner or later everyone who smokes does so to relieve the craving for nicotine—a powerfully addictive drug. The addicted body sends messages of uneasiness and need to the conscious mind until the smoker gives in and lights up.
Understanding Is Power
Take a close look at the feelings that make you want a cigarette and those that YOU have after YOU light up. Understanding these feelings will put you in charge when you're ready to quit smoking.

Warning: Smoking Can Kill Your Sex Life

"Since we put them on nicotine, they've
lost interest in anything else..."

We've all seen the ads. Perhaps it's a rugged cowboy reining in his horse at the top of a hill overlooking all of Montana to have a smoke—the very picture of virility. But the truth is quite different, even though it's not often mentioned in pamphlets about the dangers of smoking. Did you know that men who smoke are 50 percent more likely to suffer from impotence than men who do not smoke?
Nicotine and Impotence
Nicotine acts as a vasoconstrictor. That is, it constricts the arteries and blood vessels—including those that are responsible for a man's erection. Nicotine also lowers testosterone and other hormone levels in the blood. And it increases the concentrations of fatty acids in the blood, leading to clogged arteries and further restricting blood flow to the genitals.
What About Women?
Women who smoke also have cause for concern. There's evidence that smoking can interfere with a woman's ability to have an orgasm. Nicotine can also damage ovaries, causing menstrual abnormalities and decreased estrogen production. It can lead to early menopause with such side effects as increased aging and vaginal dryness.
Smoking and the Pill
If you're on the pill, the news is even worse. Women who smoke have a greatly increased risk of heart disease. For instance, women between 30 and 39 years of age who smoke and take the pill are 10 times as likely to have a stroke or a fatal heart attack as nonsmokers. Talk about smoking killing your sex life!
A Question of Attractiveness
While we're on the subject of smoking and your sex life, consider what smoking does to your sexual attractiveness. Bad breath, smelly hair and clothes, and yellow teeth and fingers are not exactly a turn-on. When you give up smoking you immediately become more attractive to your nonsmoking friends and coworkers.
Perhaps the very real dangers of cancer and heart disease seem remote when you're young and healthy. But your sexual enjoyment is something that smoking could affect right now or in the very near future. It's just one more reason to get out of the nicotine habit.

Facts About Cigar Smoking
Since 1993, the use of cigars in the United States has increased by 34 percent. Previous Surgeon General's Reports on the health consequences of smoking presented clear evidence that cigar smoking represents a significant health risk and is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. The following are estimates of cigar smoking reported in the United States and the health risks attributed to cigar use.
·      Nearly 4.6 billion cigars were used in 1996; the second consecutive year in which the cigar industry exceeded a billion dollars in sales.
·      Production of cigars is at its highest level since the mid-1980s. An estimated 1.5 billion small cigars were manufactured in 1996, an increase of 4 percent from 1995.
·      An estimated 6 million U.S. teenagers (26.7 percent) 14­19 years of age -- 4.3 million males (37 percent) and 1.7 million females (16 percent) -- smoked at least one cigar within the past year. Rates of cigar use did not vary by region within the United States.
·      U.S. students in grades 9­12 who smoked cigarettes or used smokeless tobacco products also were more likely to report smoking cigars. Nearly three-fourths of male and one-third of female cigarette and smokeless tobacco users reported smoking at least one cigar in the past year.
·      The 1982 Surgeon General's Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking: Cancer concluded that cigar smoking causes laryngeal cancer, oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and lung cancer. Cigar smokers have a 4­10 times risk of dying from laryngeal, oral, and esophageal cancers
Quit Smoking

One of the most popular and well-known ways smokers choose to quit smoking is what is known as "cold turkey." The phrase cold turkey is universally understood to mean to quit smoking abruptly, often without forethought or preparation, nor a gradual reduction in amount smoked. Most people also assume cold turkey means to quit smoking without using any smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum or patches.
The origins of the phrase cold turkey are not completely clear but some quick searches online reveal several explanations.
One site states, "The state addicts are in when withdrawing from drug addition, especially heroin. Origin: In the state of drug withdrawal the addicts blood is directed to the internal organs leaving the skin white and with goose bumps and thus resembling a turkey." (
Another site explains, "This phrase meaning "without preparation" dates to 1910. The use in relation to withdrawal from an addictive substance (originally heroin) dates to around 1922. The derivation is from the idea that cold turkey is a food that requires little preparation in the kitchen. So to quit like cold turkey is to do so suddenly and without preparation. It is also boosted by the image of the pallid flesh of a cold, dead, plucked turkey. In the state of drug withdrawal the addicts blood is directed to the internal organs leaving the skin white and with goose bumps and thus resembling a turkey." (
Yet another site says, "'Cold turkey' is actually based on another colloquial phrase, "to talk turkey" (sometimes "to talk cold turkey"), meaning to face unpleasant truths squarely. It's not entirely clear how turkeys came to be associated with honesty and straightforward confrontation of difficulties, but it may simply be that turkey farmers were renowned at one time for their lack of pretense and blunt speech." (
Whatever the actual origin, quitting smoking cold turkey is probably the most popular, while not necessarily the most successful, method for quitting. It may also be the most challenging due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms the new ex-smoker faces.
You can improve your chances for permanently quitting with the cold turkey method if you follow a few guidelines:
·      Understand that withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, tiredness and more, may be fairly intense, but they will lessen after just a few days.
·      Drink lots of water to help your body flush itself out quickly.
·      Keep a straw or other cigarette substitute handy to keep your hands and mouth busy.
·      When cravings hit, close your eyes and count down from 10 to 0, very slowly. Breathe deeply with each count.
·      Call a friend when you feel like reaching for a smoke. Divert your attention.
·      Take a quick walk, even if it is just to the bathroom or mailbox.
Superhuman willpower is often associated with using cold turkey to quit smoking. While having strong willpower is important, ultimately your success depends on how badly you want to quit and whether or not you believe you can do it. If you want to quit more than you want to smoke, and you believe that you can quit, you'll likely be successful.
The cold turkey method is free, and you can do it at any time. Why not today?
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