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The Impact of Smoking on Your Body

Posted May 22nd, 2013 in News by Steve

Smoking kills. In Australia, a person dies of a tobacco-related disease every 28 minutes. Despite this, many people continue to smoke. According to statistics, 20.4 per cent of men and 16.3 per cent of women in Australia smoke. What smokers find hard to picture is the extent of the damage that smoking does to their body.

The first drag of a cigarette covers your teeth with tar (the by-product of burnt tobacco) as it passes the mouth. The tar stuck inside your mouth rots the teeth, weakens the gums and damages the taste buds. As the smoke goes into your lungs, it damages the small hairs (cilia) that filter out foreign particles. The capillaries inside the lungs absorb the nicotine from the smoke, along with poisonous chemicals such as toluene (an industrial solvent), cyanhydric acid (the chemical used in the Nazi gas chambers) and Polonium 210 (a radioactive element).

As you exhale the cigarette smoke, nicotine reaches the adrenal glands, causing them to release adrenaline. Your blood pressure and heart rate are raised, which is why smoking increases the risk of having a stroke. Carbon monoxide also starts to build up in the bloodstream, which makes it harder for your body to transport oxygen. As the nicotine makes its way to the brain, dopamine is released, making the smoker feel good.

Slow death is a term often used in relation to smoking because it describes perfectly what happens to the body with each cigarette smoked. The longer a person is a smoker, the greater is their risk of developing a tobacco-related disease. The addictive nature of smoking stems from the fact that five minutes after a cigarette, dopamine levels drop. The smoker then lights up another cigarette to satisfy the craving, and the cycle begins again. This makes quitting particularly difficult. It is also the reason that alternative nicotine delivery systems – such as electronic cigarettes – can help people can quit smoking. The e-cigarette delivers nicotine in to the body without the tar and other toxic chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes, thus making the electronic cigarette a much healthier alternative to the tobacco cigarette.

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