Most smokers are at least somewhat educated on the risks they are taking when they light up, both to themselves and to those who surround them as they smoke. But it’s hard to imagine that they really understand. If they did, would they ever light up again?.
It is hard not to pay attention to the rising anti-smoking stance that many are taking with all of the health risks for smokers. Many smokers are disappearing as more and more decide to finally quit. Efforts are constantly underway to get smokers to make that move with everything from rising cigarette prices to anti-smoking laws.
But smokers are still out there.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 smoking health risks every smoker should know.
Smoking produces the most deaths in cardiovascular disease. This affects the arteries by making them more and more narrow and stiff. This produces cerebral thrombosis or coronary thrombosis which can lead to heart attack, stroke, and/or paralysis.
Most people know that smokers have a higher risk of developing cancer than non-smokers. But when you are faced with the facts, it’s kind of hard not to show at least a little concern.
Cigarettes contain tar, a carcinogen that has been proven to cause cancer. Of the cases of lung cancer that arise every year, at least ninety perfect can be related to smoking. In fact, if smoking didn’t exist in the world, lung cancer would be a rare disease. Imagine that!
Lung cancer is not a good way to go. It is much like you are slowly suffocating more and more each day. It is difficult for you and it is difficult for your family and friends.
COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) has smoking to thank for more than ninety-five percent of its occurrences. It is a blanket term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which often co-exist. Both conditions are progressive and have the inevitable ending of having to rely on an outside source for oxygen and then, of course, death. The damage is also irreversible.
COPD doesn’t just happen to elderly people. It usually starts around the mid thirties to mid forties. Imagine being thirty-five and having to walk everywhere with a breathing machine, when you have the energy. This is the life of someone with COPD, and it’s not an easy life.
Other Types of Cancer
Smokers have the added increased risk of developing other cancers aside from lung cancer. Not surprisingly, smokers have a higher risk of mouth, esophagus, and throat cancer. But they also are more likely to develop stomach, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and skin cancer.
High blood pressure is a risky side effect of cigarette smoking, which can lead to hypertension. This can result in a heart attack, stroke, or renal failure.
Non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetes occurs three times more often in smokers than non-smokers. Improperly managed, diabetes can bring on a whole new host of health issues such as renal failure, blindness, and coronary artery disease.
Smokers have double the risk of losing their eyesight through macular degeneration. This is due to the toxic effects that smoking has on the retina.
Smoking is very damaging to the bones and keeps new bone from forming. It can increase the occurrence of bone fractures and it can lead to osteoporosis in women.
Because smoking increases the amount of acid in the stomach, smokers may develop peptic ulcers. These sores in the stomach and intestines are extremely painful and can produce side effects such as bloating, nausea, and sometimes gastric perforation.
Couples who smoke may find that they are unable to conceive. Infertility occurs more often in smokers than non smokers. Male smokers also can start having erectile dysfunction by the time they are in their 30’s.
These top 10 smoking health risks do encompass the full scope of the dangers of smoking. But they are certainly more than enough reasons to quit. If you are a smoker, this list should have you on your way to making a plan to quit smoking today.
Terry Martin, “The Health Risks of Smoking,” About.com.