BANGALORE: Tobacco is the biggest enemy of the public health today. It is not an exaggeration to make this statement. For, the effects of tobacco use, as we all know, are destructive and widespread. Not many know that tobacco is one of the primary causes of cancers and heart attacks. Many youngsters nowadays, in both cities and rural areas, are getting addicted to tobacco use in various forms, which in the long run have an adverse effect on health and life of the population.
According to a recent study conducted by the American Cancer Society, almost 30 percent of the Indian population in the age group of 15 years and above, use some form of tobacco. While the early forms of tobacco include chewing tobacco leaves, Ghutka and Beedis, Cigarettes, Cigars, Chillum and Hookahs are equally common, especially in the urban areas.
Tobacco smoke contains approximately 4000 chemicals in cigarettes, hundreds of which are toxic like formaldehyde, ammonia and cadmium. These constituents of cigarettes have a detrimental effect on everything: from the body’s immunity to the functioning of the organs. It is known to everyone that cigarette smoking is harmful and addictive. But very few are aware of the risks of cigarette addiction. Smoking results in several irreversible damages and reduces the body immunity and human life span by 25 years. Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death. A study by World Health Organisation (WHO) says that smoking-related deaths world-wide are set to surpass nine million annually by 2020, seven million of which will occur in developing nations, like India.
Smoking does not only put the active smoker in the danger zone of risk of diseases but envelopes the innocent passive smokers too into its fold. It has been scientifically proven that smoking causes cancer and a host of other diseases like Emphysema, Bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, Coronary artery disease, Liver cancer, Prostate cancer, Erectile dysfunction in men, Stomach cancer, Bladder and kidney cancer, Acute myeloid leukemia, Cataracts, Cervical cancer, Kidney cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Periodontitis, Pneumonia, Oral, Buccal, Laryngopharyngeal and Lung Cancer, but somehow even this formidable list does not act as a deterrent for addicted smokers to quit smoking.
Research reveals that
* Smoking tobacco triples your heart attack risk
* Smoking just 8 cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk
* Light smokers (less than 10 cigarettes per day) who give up smoking, return to normal non-smoking risk of heart attack after 3 to 5 years
* Heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes per day) who give up smoking, have a 22% higher heart attack risk 20 years after they quit
* 22 hours per week exposure to second-hand smoke (passive smoking) raises heart attack risk by 45%
Nicotine is addictive and increases cholesterol levels in your body. Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled. Studies have shown that, once Nicotine enters the system, traces remain in every part of the body, even in breast milk! Using tobacco can damage a woman’s reproductive health. Tobacco use is associated with reduced fertility and a higher risk of miscarriage, early delivery (premature birth), and stillbirth. Though not all of these health problems related to smoking result in deaths, the illnesses can limit one’s daily life by making it harder to breathe, work or play.
If you’re a smoker trying to quit, the good news is that there are a number of ‘way out’ that can help you kick the habit.
Nicotine gum, nicotine patches, Lozenges and inhalers are a type of medicine known as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and are designed to help smokers quit. Nicotine replacement therapies work by releasing a small amount of nicotine into the bloodstream, but without the dangerous effects of inhaling tobacco smoke. This provides quick relief from the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that you get when you stop smoking, and allows you to get on with breaking the psychological habit of smoking.
Electronic Cigarettes are another alternative which serve the purpose of helping people quit smoking. Smoke-free E-cigarettes have batteries instead of tobacco, cartridges instead of nicotine, water vapor instead of smoke! Though NRT and E-cigarettes have been shown to almost double your chances of successfully quitting smoking, they are not the ultimate solution.Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you. Within 12 hours after you have your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will decline rapidly, and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke. Hence pledge to commit to breathe free, quit smoking and allow your loved ones to breathe free too.
Dr Anita Krishnan
Senior Consultant E.NT and Endoscopic Surgeon, Nova Specialty Surgery.