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How Smoking Affects the Lungs, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 969

Essay

Introduction

Research has shown that smoking can cause a serious detrimental problem to both your health and lungs.  The issue with cigarettes is that it contains a host of toxic and cacogenic materials that can seriously damage the lungs.  The illustration in Fig 1 provides a potent reminder of the serious chemicals that get absorbed via the smoke into the body.  These include such dangerous materials as Arsenic, Methane, Benzene, Butane, Cadmium and Ammonia. This all in addition to the addiction of nicotine an addictive and toxic drug.

Smoking not only impacts the Heart and Lungs but can have serious consequences and can cause damage to the entire body.  Long term smokers are at increased risk of getting life threatening diseases which includes virtually all forms of cancers.

Heart and Lung Damage

Lung diseases that include Lung Cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema are considered a common threat to smokers. Nicotine also restricts the blood vessels and can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure that can result in heart disease or strokes.  Diminished blood circulation can also lead to a host of circulation problems.

It is important to recognise that the inhaled smoke contains a variety of toxic poisons which include tar, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and a host of other carcinogenic materials. Many associate smoking with that of Lung Cancer but the reality is that it significantly increases your risk exposure to a wide range of cancers.

Smoking has a wide range of peripheral impact and can include problems in items like that of:-

  • Damage the brain by changing chemistry composition;
  • Cause Liver, Kidney and Bladder Cancer;
  • Cause cancers of the pancreas and colon;
  • Cause cancers of the throat and mouth;
  • Leukemia or cancer of the blood;

How smoking damages the lungs

Smoking essentially destroys the natural cleansing mechanism in the lungs and traps carcinogenic materials in the lungs that turn into tumours.   It is the tiny hair cells on the lungs called cilia, which protect the airways against infections that are destroyed. In addition smoking damages the alveoli, small balloon like items that help absorb oxygen into the body. These also help in expelling the waste carbon dioxide out of the body.  Hence once these are destroyed they create symptoms of fatigue, shortage of breath and impose an added strain on the heart.  The signs that indicate damage to the lungs include:-

  • Fatigue or shortness of breath in moderate exercise;
  • Coughing are spitting up mucous;
  • Repeated chest infections;

It is important that smokers recognise these symptoms and see their Doctor at the earliest opportunity. Damage starts to take place from 6months to a year of commencing smoking. From that point it is a deteriorating health problem.  Owing to the fact that it is a deteriorating situation it is never too late to stop smoking.  The body goes some way towards doing self-repairs but continued smoking will almost certainly cause long term damage and increase your chances of a range of life threatening diseases. The risk of heart disease reduces by 50% after a year of quitting smoking.

Lung Cancer

In the USA this is considered to be the leading cause of death in male and female smokers. It is the cause of 30% of the cancer deaths in men and 25% in women. Further, smokers and ex-smokers account for 90% of all lung cancer patients.  The disease is particularly difficult to treat and has a high morbidity rate.  The survival options are better if Lung Cancer is caught early.  This with a projected 60-80% survival rate with those diagnosed with Stage1.  For those with Stage 4 this drops to a 10% survival rate. Fig 2 provides an illustration of a lung cancer tumour.

Tumours can be either malignant or benign. Cancer are malignant tumours and capable of spreading through other areas of the body. That process is referred to as metastasis where the tumour travels through the blood stream or lymphatic system. Lung cancer is described as one of the most life threatening types of cancers and is extremely difficult to treat.  The most common sites for spread from the lungs include that of Liver, Kidneys, Bones and the Brain.  Lung Cancer can also be contracted by passive smoke from other cigarette smokers. Hence the importance of banning this substance in bars, restaurants and other places of public convenience.  Those sharing homes or work sites with smokers also increase their chances of getting lung cancer by 30%.

The incidence of smoking is so high in the USA that we see more people dying from Lung Cancer than any other form of cancer.  This includes both gender types. The latest statistics[1] in 2008 illustrate 208,493 were diagnosed with lung cancer. Of these 159,592 died from lung cancer, illustrating the high morbidity rate, this translating to 88,541 men and 70,051 women. The trends in the USA show a decrease in men smoking whilst in women it has remained a relative constant. This would indicate that the message has not yet penetrated acceptance by the female population that smoking represents a serious danger to your health.

Conclusions

Scientific research evidences that Smoking creates a serious health risk and leads towards serious illnesses like that of cancer and heart disease.  Given the high morbidity rates of these diseases it is evident that smokers should cease smoking at the earliest opportunity. Nicotine is also a highly addictive drug and over time reduces the resistance for smokers trying to cease the practice.  Smoking is no longer considered trendy and because of the risks from passive smoking is now considered to be highly anti-social.

Smoking is more prevalent amongst the working classes and poorer parts of societies in developing and third world countries. Given the demand in those regions the cigarette manufacturing companies have increased their marketing campaigns in these regions. Despite World Health Authority and Government warnings people still are continuing to smoke in large numbers.

[1] Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) USA

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