My two-cents Rx
BENJ S. BANGAHAN, M.D., FPCP, FPCCP
It may be quite appropriate to train our attention again on cigarette smoking, one habit that man easily gets himself hooked to for a reason that is rather ironical, especially relative to the man’s health, which is the one aspect of human life that needs to be maintained in comfortable distance, if only possible, from any possible impairing factor. But in the case of a smoker, it is exactly his health, in many multiple ways, that bears the bad consequences that are inherently associated with tobacco.
Perhaps smoking has been underestimated in regard to how exactly nasty it is, for most likely smokers, and in fact even some non-smokers, do not know about the undesirable nastiness that cigarettes, nay tobacco in general, have been found to possess, whose effects can be imparted to the unlucky ones hooked to the habit of smoking. What they are aware about only is the short feel-good experience as an effect of smoking. For that reason, a wicked but moneyed happy-go-lucky person of either sex, when overwhelmed by the drive to satisfy the self, is apt to disregard the
potential harm the body will suffer from in the future.
Cigarette smoke has much more complex contents than what smokers think. Researchers have found thousands of chemicals in each puff, and fortunately only about 70 of them are found to be carcinogens, or can initiate the process of cancer-growth; much more fortunate is that much fewer than 70 are documented to have manifested their undesirable disease-producing characters. The complex mixture of chemicals are categorized into gases, as exemplified by carbon monoxide (MO), hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and nitrogen oxides; volatile chemicals like formaldehyde, acrolein, benzene and N-nitrosamines, and are contained in the liquid-vapor portion of the smoke; and the solid ones like nicotine, phenol, polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs), tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs).
Nicotine is the addictive chemical content of cigarette smoke, and it is the one and only factor that hooks the smokers into repeating and repeating their smoking habit.
However, the other chemicals in the complex are also inhaled by the smokers, and therefore are free to exert their undesirable effects. A simplified way of presenting them is made to follow.
Considered as dangerous parts of tobacco smoke: a) tar – the term made to refer to solid particles suspended in smoke, tar contains chemicals that cause cancer; it is sticky and brown and can stain the teeth and fingernails; smokers who are autopsied have their respiratory tree and lung tissues typically colored; b) carbon
monoxide – an odorless and colorless poisonous gas, which in high doses can lead to immediate death since it takes over oxygen; c) oxidizing chemicals – they react with cholesterol, enhancing the thickening of the blood walls with consequent cardiovascular diseases with possible subsequent brain stroke and heart attack; d) cigarette smoke has several metals (arsenic, berrylium, cadmium, chromium cobalt, lead and nickel) that are capable of causing cancer; e) the radioactive compounds found in the smoke are cancer-causing.
The different systems in the human body are affected by smoking in various ways. First to receive the impact from smoke and its chemical contents is the air pathway and the lung tissue. The trachea and the larynx (voice box) undergo irritation, while the function of the lungs diminish secondary to the diminution of air passage which is made worse by the presence of phlegm. Infections easily develop, adding aggravating factors to the damages in the lung.
Cigarette smoke also contributes to the disturbance of heart functions side by side with its bad effects on the blood vessels, ultimately decreasing the circulatory function and leads to the reduction of blood supply to the fingers and toes; this may be more pronounced during exercise time. The functions of the immune and musculo-skeletal systems, are rendered poor as well. Perhaps some males will find its effects on sexual functions alarming: smoke can bring about low sperm count, deformity of and genetic damage to sperm, and impotence may set in secondary to the damage to the blood vessels of the penis. In the females, fertility is reduced,
menstrual cycle may become abnormal and menopause may set in much earlier; chances of cervical cancer are enhanced and for those over 35 years of age and taking contraceptives, brain stroke and heart attack become riskier. Pregnant women who are smoking increase the chances of miscarriage, sitillbirth and premature birth, and babies will have weak lungs, low birth weight and increased risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes when they reach adulthood.
Perhaps the salient features covered are convincing enough to the people involved that the only way to offset the bad effects of smoking is not to start it. Those who are already smokers should believe that stopping smoking is the most beneficial method to obviate the side effects. In as far as aids in doing it, there are now many nicotine methods: gum, spray, patch and others are available. But one has to be handled by a doctor in the line, and seeing one is the best advice to give so that the most appropriate method can be prescribed.
Good luck…. Māssalām.. (PMT)