Powerful anti-smoking campaigns across the globe have made most of us well-versed in the dangers of cigarettes and secondhand smoke. We know about the blackened lungs, withered hearts, and cancer risks. We have seen the pictures of yellowed teeth and nails, and low-birth-weight babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy.
Today, we’ll explore these health risks in-depth, as well as a few lesser-known physical side-effects of smoking. As you read today’s article, please remember that the goal of diving into this issue isn’t to shame you or weigh you down with guilt, but to educate you about the effect of your choices.
Smoking is an addiction, it’s true. But every time you raise a cigarette to your lips, you are making a choice. You’re choosing an immediate desire over a long-term benefit. You’re choosing a craving over your health. And oftentimes, you’re choosing to break a promise to yourself while you do it.
We believe you are worth more than black lungs and yellow nails. You’re worth feeling healthy, strong, and vibrant. You deserve to live a full, healthy, happy life. And today, we’ll show you how to get there.
What Does Smoking do to Your Body?
The NHS breaks down what cigarettes do to different parts of your body. You’re probably familiar with how smoking affects your brain, lungs, and circulatory system…
- Brain: Yes, smoking affects your brain! Smokers increase their risk of a stroke by 50% and double their risk of dying from a stroke.
- Circulatory system: When you smoke, poisons from tar in cigarettes make their way into your bloodstream, making your blood thicker and increasing the chances of blood clots, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, and causing your arteries to narrow and provide less oxygen-rich blood to your vital organs.
- Lungs: Of course, cigarette smoke has a devastating effect on your lungs. Smoking is responsible for “84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” Smoking can leave you breathless, coughing, and prone to pneumonia and emphysema, as well as cancer. [Adapted from the NHS]
But did you know that smoking also affects your skin, stomach, bones, mouth, and fertility?
- Skin: The NHS explains “smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years and makes it three times more likely you’ll get facial wrinkling, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Smoking even gives you a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks, which can cause you to look gaunt”.
- Stomach: Smoking increases acid reflux and makes it more likely that you’ll get stomach cancer or ulcers.
- Mouth and throat: 93% of throat cancers are caused by smoking, and cigarette smoke can also yellow your teeth, reduce taste buds, and cause gum disease.
- Fertility: If you’re a man, smoking may make you impotent – smoking damages the blood vessels that direct blood to the penis, making it more challenging to obtain an erection. Men’s sperm count is also lower for smokers than non-smokers. Women’s fertility is also affected – women who smoke have fertility rates 28% lower than non-smokers. [Adapted from the NHS]
Smoking causes devastating physical effects, increase cancer risks, and torpedoes the functioning of your major vital organs. These physical effects are an incredibly high price to pay for continuing to smoke. As you read through the list above, does it seem a worthwhile trade-off? Your health for a cigarette? Your lung function for that first inhale? Your appearance for that heady rush of nicotine?
Every cigarette you resist adds a bit of health back into your body. Reducing your smoking habit by 1 cigarette per day, every single week is a slow, sustainable way to curb (and maybe even eventually quit) your addiction. Your health is worth it. You are worth it. Good luck!