By now, the adverse health effects of smoking should be well known to just about anybody who has grown up in our society these last four decades. Unfortunately, studies show that certain age groups continue to pick up the smoking habit regardless of the medical implications or how often the adverse effects are publicized or noted in the popular media.
These days, teenagers of both sexes and young women are increasingly picking up the habit. 2008 and the first part of 2009 saw the first actual rise in the number of people smoking in this country in decades. Prior to 2008, smoking had been steadily dropping across the board, though teenagers and young adults still smoked in greater numbers than all other age groups.
When it comes to how smoking can affect health, the list of the ways in which it can impact the human body — which in turn affects health on a short-term and long-term basis — is extremely long. The smoke from a cigarette, when it is inhaled into the lungs, acts in a number of ways on the body. A myriad of potentially harmful chemicals are contained within that smoke, for one thing.
Smoking can elevate carbon monoxide levels in the body with sometimes potentially harmful results ensuing. Carbon monoxide binds with the oxygen-carrying substance in the blood cells in the human body known as hemoglobin. This can prevent the cells from carrying the optimum amount of oxygen throughout the body, leading to further long-term damage to a person who smokes. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to quit cigarette smoking with final smoke.
With over 4000 known chemicals contained within a cigarette, the chances are high that many of them — combined or acting singly — will greatly affect the health of the smoker. Cigarette smoke itself causes oxidative damage to the body which in turn can mutate a person’s DNA. Additionally, it can cause hardening of the arteries known as atherosclerosis and can damage the lungs greatly.
In general, such oxidative stresses are thought to be the prime cause of aging and also the key factor in the development of cancer. Additionally, oxidative stresses impact the body in certain other ways which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a number of different cardiovascular diseases, not to mention emphysema, asthma and various breathing disorders.
As if that were not enough, smoking affects the body’s immune system in negative ways. And though many people feel that — once they take up the habit — they’ll be able to kick cigarettes when they get older and less able to deal with the stresses smoking places on the body, they are quite often badly mistaken. Nicotine in the cigarette is known to be one of the most addictive substances around.
When looking at the various adverse health effects of smoking, it is plainly evident that the best thing to do is to never pick up a cigarette at all. Teenagers and young adults, who are by far the largest group of smokers, would be well advised to consider carefully the long-term potential for damage that is done to the body from cigarette smoke and the chemicals contained within it.