If you need motivation to quit smoking this October then read our top 10 reasons why smoking is bad for your health:
Smoking is responsible for 70% of all cases of lung cancer. It is also causes cancer in many other parts of the body including the mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus, bladder, bowel, cervix, kidney, liver, stomach and pancreas. Researchers believe smoking causes 16 different types of cancer and also makes cancer treatment in those who continue to smoke, less effective.
- Heart health
If you smoke you are at a greatly increased risk of developing problems with your heart and blood circulation, such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers.
Smoking damages the lining of the arteries leading to a build up of fatty material which damages the arteries. Meanwhile the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood forcing your heart to pump harder to supply the body with oxygen. Your body also produces more adrenaline due to the nicotine in cigarettes, making your heart beat faster. Your blood is more likely to clot as a smoker which increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Smoking affects the fertility levels of both men and women. In women it could make it more difficult to become pregnant and in men, smoking leads to reduced sperm count and impotence.
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer which is the greatest cause of cancer related deaths worldwide. More than four in five UK lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. It is also responsible for a range of debilitating respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia and asthma. Second hand smoke leads to deaths from asthma, lower respiratory infections and lung cancer, particularly in children exposed to smoke.
- Mental health
Nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain which is the chemical that triggers positive feelings. Smoking encourages the brain to switch off its own mechanism for making dopamine, leading the supply to decrease and encouraging people to smoke more. Nicotine addiction triggers changes in the brain which lead to withdrawal symptoms, including cravings and anxiety. Smokers then light up again to relieve these symptoms, leading to a constant cycle of withdrawal relieved by a nicotine hit before the cravings begin again.
According to dementia experts, around 10% of cases of Alzheimer’s Disease in the UK could be linked to smoking. Two of the most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia are linked to problems with the vascular system which can be caused by smoking. Smoking can lead to strokes or smaller bleeds in the brain which then result in dementia.
Smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years. You’re three times more likely to develop wrinkles if you’re a smoker, particularly around your eyes and mouth. Many smokers also have a sallow yellow-grey complexion.
Every time you light up a cigarette your hair is surrounded by a cloud of toxic fumes. This can lead to premature boldness and going grey. Because when you smoke, your hair is not supplied with enough nutrients or fresh oxygen, your hair can become dry and brittle. Scientists believe that smoking may accelerate premature greying of the hair due to the toxins in the smoke that can harm hair follicles and damage hormones.
Researchers have found that smoking does long term damage to the structure of the brain and that current and former smokers have a thinner cortex, the part of the brain that deals with memory and language, than non-smokers. The cortex does thin with age, but researchers found that smoking accelerates that process, leading to more rapid mental decline.
The nicotine and tar in tobacco stain smokers’ teeth turning them yellow and eventually, after years of lighting up, brown. Smoking can also lead to gum disease as those who smoke are far more likely to produce bacterial plaque. The gums then don’t heal as smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. Every year thousands of people die from mouth cancer brought on by smoking and it is one of the main causes of the condition.