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Smoking-related Diseases

Smoking1-300x206One of the first things I talk to my patients about when it comes to smoking-related diseases is that this touches all of our lives.

Every single one of us has, in some way, had our lives affected by a member of our family or our friends who have suffered smoking-related diseases and perhaps death.

This may be because the person themselves smokes or they are one of the millions who have died from passive smoking.

It does not matter who you are or how smart you think you are, smoking kills.

It is one of the most devastating things you can do to your physical body. Smoking affects every single one of your physiological systems, functions and organs. It also affects the neurological system therefore your mental health.

Oxygen is the breath of life. The body constantly needs oxygen. The brain needs 30 % of all the oxygen you use and it will never compromise. It does not matter what kind of medical emergency it is, the brain will not give up its 30% because it is guarding the mainframe computer: itself.

When I look under the microscope during a live blood analysis at smokers’ red blood cells, which carry the oxygen and keeps us healthy, they are often clumped together. The result is the transport of oxygen is diminished.

If you look at a healthy non-smoker’s red blood vessels they bound off each other and can carry a much higher percentage of oxygen around the body. To stay healthy, vibrant and free of disease, we need lots of oxygen.

Smoking contributes to cardiovascular disease. The blood vessels of your body become blocked. The carbonised (burnt) nicotine becomes tar-like with the consistency of glue.

Nicotine tar in the blood sticks together with Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL: unwanted excess cholesterol) , triglycerides (fats), old dead blood cells, old dead tissues cell and forms one of many plugs (clots) that block the blood vessels.

Beyond the clot the tissue is starved of oxygen and glucose. In the heart this causes a heart attack, tissue death and the heart never recovers; death may follow.

If the blockage is in the brain a vessel can burst at the point of the blockage, so parts of the brain die of starvation and other parts of the brain drown from excess blood.

A stroke may cause permanent physical and mental disability or death and may occur at any age.

We also know that smoking causes the blockages of small and micro blood vessels, causing vascular collapse. This particularly problematic in people with diabetes, and poor circulation may eventually cause gangrene in the arms and legs land lead to the need for amputation. The reduction of vascular efficiency also increases the likelihood of blindness in older years.

Cancer of the lungs is the leading cause of cancer for people. It is 32% of cancer deaths in men and 25% in women. Those who smoke and those who used to smoke make up 90% of all those with lung cancer.

While lung cancer from smoking can take years to come into effect, stopping smoking dramatically reduces the risk. Around 180,000 people are diagnosed in America with lung cancer each year and around 86% of those will die within five years of the diagnosis.

Smoking also increases the incidence of other cancers such as breast, cervical, ovarian, testicular and liver cancers.

While nicotine is difficult to pinpoint as carcinogenic (cancer-causing substance) it is clear it lowers the ability of the immune system. This can leave the body susceptible to cancer-causing viruses.

So far I have talked about the effects of smoking on the individual. But its effects on children during pregnancy are equally and sometimes even more devastating.

We know that smoking causes miscarriages. It also causes premature births, which may mean the baby’s are not developed so the early brain does not get sufficient oxygen, and this can lead to a reduction in intelligence later in life.

We also now know that smoking in either the father or the mother causes higher levels of serious genetic disease and malformation in children during pregnancy. The genetic building blocks of life are formed long before conception and what you do to your body before conception can affect the health problems your child may suffer when they are 70, if they live that long.

So, the sum up: the effects of smoking on your body are not only devastating, but they affect your mental health, the quality of your children’s lives for the rest of their life and ultimately the quality of your grandchildren’s lives when you are dead.

So what will your heritage be?



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