четверг, 12 июля 2007 г.

Health Effects of Smoking

Health Effects of Smoking
About half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die because of the habit. Each year about 440,000 people die in the United States from illnesses related to cigarette smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. It is a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, pharynx (throat), esophagus, and bladder, and is a contributing cause in the development of cancers of the pancreas, cervix, kidney, stomach, and also some leukemias.

About 87% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, and is one of the most difficult cancers to treat. Fortunately, lung cancer is largely a preventable disease. Groups that promote nonsmoking as part of their religion, such as Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists, have much lower rates of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers.

Other Health Problems
Cancers account for only about half of the deaths related to smoking. Smoking is also a major cause of heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke, and it contributes to the severity of pneumonia and asthma.

Tobacco also has damaging effects on women's reproductive health. It is associated with reduced fertility and a higher risk of miscarriage, early delivery (prematurity), stillbirth, infant death, and is a cause of low birth weight in infants. It has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Smoking has also been linked to a variety of other health problems, including gum disease, cataracts, bone thinning, hip fractures, and peptic ulcers.

Furthermore, the smoke from cigarettes (called secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke) has a harmful health effect on those exposed to it. (Refer to the American Cancer Society documents, "Secondhand Smoke" and "Women and Smoking.")

Effects on Quantity and Quality of Life
Based on data collected from 1995 to 1999, the CDC estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking.

But not all of the health problems related to smoking result in deaths. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and reducing the health of smokers in general. In the year 2000, about 8.6 million people were suffering from at least one chronic disease due to current or former smoking, according to the CDC. Many of these people were suffering from more than one smoking-related condition. The diseases occurring most often were chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

Taking Care of Yourself
Any past or current tobacco use is important information for your health care provider to know so he or she can be sure that you have appropriate preventive health care. It is well known that smoking puts you at risk for certain health-related illnesses, so part of your health care should focus on related screening and preventive measures to help you stay as healthy as possible. For example, you will want to be certain that you regularly check the inside of your mouth for any changes and have an oral exam by your doctor or dentist if you have any changes or problems. The American Cancer Society recommends that periodic checkups should include oral cavity (mouth) exams. By doing this tobacco users may be able to prevent, or detect early, oral changes, leukoplakia (white patches on the mouth membranes), and oral cancer.

You should also be aware of any change in cough, a new cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, headaches, chest pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, general fatigue, and repeated respiratory infections. Any of these could be signs of lung cancer or a number of other lung conditions and should be reported to your doctor. While these can be signs of a problem, many lung cancers do not cause any noticeable symptoms until they are advanced and have spread to other parts of the body.

If you have any health concerns that may be related to your tobacco use, please see your health care provider as quickly as possible. Taking care of yourself and getting treatment for small problems will give you the best chance for successful treatment. The best way, though, to take care of yourself and decrease your risk for life-threatening lung problems is to quit smoking.

Ingredients in Tobacco
Cigarettes, cigars, and spit and pipe tobacco are made from dried tobacco leaves, as well as ingredients added for flavor and other properties. More than 4,000 individual chemicals have been identified in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Among these are more than 60 chemicals that are known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

There are hundreds of substances added to cigarettes by manufacturers to enhance the flavor or to make the smoking experience more pleasant. Some of the compounds found in tobacco smoke include ammonia, tar, and carbon monoxide. Exactly what effects these substances have on the cigarette consumer's health is unknown, but there is no evidence that lowering the tar content of a cigarette improves the health risk. Manufacturers do not provide the public with information about the precise amount of additives used in cigarettes, so it is hard to accurately gauge the public health risk.

Nicotine Addiction
Addiction is characterized by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance despite harmful consequences. Addiction is often accompanied by physical and psychological dependence on the substance. Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco. Regular use of tobacco products leads to addiction in a high proportion of users.

In 1988, the US Surgeon General concluded the following:

Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting.

Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction.

The pharmacologic and behavioral processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Nicotine is found in substantial amounts in all forms of tobacco. It is absorbed readily from tobacco smoke in the lungs and from oral tobacco in the mouth or nose. It rapidly spreads throughout the body.

Tobacco companies are required by law to report nicotine levels in cigarettes to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but in most states they are not required to show the amount of nicotine on the cigarette brand labeling. The actual amount of nicotine available to the smoker in a given brand of cigarettes may be different from the level reported to the FTC. In one regular cigarette, the amount of nicotine ranges between about 1 mg and 2 mg.

Although 70% of smokers want to quit and 35% attempt to quit each year, fewer than 5% succeed. This is because smokers not only become physically addicted to nicotine; there is a strong psychological aspect and they often link smoking with many social activities. All of these factors make smoking a hard habit to break.

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