Health and Disease

What Happens to Your Body When You Smoke

cigarettersmoking

What Happens to Your Body When You Smoke

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 18 out of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (17.8 percent) smoke cigarettes today. This means an estimated 42.1 million adults in the United States are cigarette smokers. Even more stunning; on average, smoking causes 480,000 deaths per year in the country, which is roughly 1,300 deaths per day.1 It is expected that eight million people will die in 2030 if the current smoking rate continues.

Background of Cigarette Smoking

Smoking is said to stimulate pleasing and enjoyable emotions, and smokers claim that it helps boost their mood, alleviates minor depression and small fits of anger, improves concentration and short-term memory, and can also provide a modest sense of well-being. This is because cigarettes contain the addictive substance nicotine that stimulates dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for the “pleasurable sensations.”

However, the more you smoke, the more your nerve cells become immune to the pleasure brought on by smoking. As a result, smokers tend to increase their intake of nicotine to get that desirable feeling from smoking.2

Despite the “pleasure” that one gets from puffing a cigarette, remember this: smoking comes with devastating health effects.

If you think smoking an e-cig makes a difference, it doesn’t. Researchers actually found that a brand of e-cigarette contains more than 10 times the level of carcinogen contained in a regular cigarette. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both harmful toxins, were also found in the vapor produced by several types of e-cigarettes.

Remember while smoking makes you feel good for a period of time, it slowly kills your body, and is the LEADING preventable cause of death in the US.3

What Are the Side Effects of Smoking Cigarettes?

Smoking harms your body and may cause permanent damage to your health. If you’re still not convinced about its dangers, take a look at some of smoking’s side effects.

Short-Term Effects

Smokers tend to have smelly clothes and hair, bad breath, and yellow or brown teeth stains. Your physical appearance can also suffer as smoking can lead to premature wrinkles, gum and tooth loss, and sudden weight change. Stomach ulcers and weakened immune system are also possible smoking side effects you might experience.4

For young people, there is a high probability that they will continue smoking into adulthood. As a result, it will impair their lung function and growth. Teens who smoke are also 22 times more likely to use cocaine.

According to a new Australian study, female smokers may experience worse menstrual cramps than those who don’t. It is likely to happen as the amount of oxygen that travels to the uterus decreases when you smoke. Researchers say that women who started to smoke at the tender age of 13 have a 59 percent risk of having painful menstruation, while those who started to smoke at age 14 or 15 have 50 percent risk of experiencing it.5

Long-Term Effects

Many people don’t begin to feel the severe side effects of smoking until years later. Once you begin to feel the symptoms, you know damage has already been done. Some damaging side effects of smoking cigarettes include:

  • Cardiovascular health problems. Smoking poses a great danger to your heart and blood vessels. It damages the structure of your heart and the way your blood vessels work.6 Smoking increases your risk of having a heart disease by two to four times, as it causes the blood vessels in your heart to thicken and grow thinner. It makes your heart beat faster, your blood pressure rise, and causes your blood to clot. When a clot blocks the blood flow to your heart, it cannot get enough oxygen, which damages a part of your heart’s muscle or even kills it.

People who smoke have a higher risk of atherosclerosis, a disease where the plaque liquids build in the arteries. As time progresses, it will cause your arteries to harden and narrow, which will limit the flow of the oxygen-filled blood to other parts of your body.

Smoking may also lead to coronary heart disease (CHD) once the plaque liquids build up in the coronary arteries. It can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, or death.

Another side effect of smoking cigarettes is Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.), which happens when plaque liquids build up to the blood vessels that deliver blood to the head, organs, and limbs. Smokers who have diabetes and take birth control pills are at greater risk of having serious ailments to the heart and blood vessels. 7

  • Increased risk of stroke. Smokers have a two to four times increased risk of having a stroke than non-smokers. It happens when a clot blocks the blood from your brain or when an artery around or in your brain explodes.8
  • Respiratory problems. Our lungs are equipped with a layer of internal mucus that serves as a protective shield for foreign materials that we inhale, by wiping off these contaminants with small hairs called cilia. But with smokers, cilia cannot function properly as these tiny hairs work rather slowly. As a result, you cannot cough, sneeze, or swallow to get these toxins out of your body.9

Smoking can trigger or make an asthma attack worse.10 It may also cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs eventually lose their elasticity and start to worsen. Chronic bronchitis happens when there is a swelling in the linings of your lungs and it constrains your breathing.11

  • Pregnancy complications. Pregnant women who smoke have a higher risk of preterm (early) delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth. They may encounter Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), ectopic pregnancy, and orofacial clefts for the newborns. Women also have a great tendency of having weaker bones after menopause.12
  • Reproductive health function. Men who smoke may encounter erectile dysfunction, poor sperm quality, and sperm defects. For women, smoking may cause reduced fertility.13
  • Cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals, some of which can cause cancer. These include formaldehyde, benzene, polonium 210, and vinyl chloride.14 Even worse, smoking can cause various kinds of cancers anywhere in your body, not just in your lungs, such as: 15
Bladder Blood (acute myeloid leukemia) Cervix
Colon and rectum (colorectal) Esophagus Kidney and ureter
Larynx Liver Oropharynx
Pancreas Stomach Trachea, bronchus, and lung

Radioactive Chemical Found in Fertilizers Leads to Lung Cancer

Did you know that your body also accumulates harmful radioactive chemicals from cigarettes? These dangerous elements come from the pesticides used on tobacco fields. While it is true that smoking cigarettes can cause cancer, there is a more specific substance that is the root cause of cancer among smokers. Tobacco fields typically use calcium phosphate fertilizers, which contain polonium-210. When polonium-210 decays, it releases alpha particles that can damage human cells they come into contact with.

Research suggests that main lung damage comes from the radiation emitted by these fertilizers.16,17,18 It also showed that polonium, specifically, causes cancer in laboratory animals.19 Moreover, according to a study in 200920 the radiation that you get from smoking 1 ½ cigarette packs is tantamount to 300 chest x-ray films per year.

A 2011 report from Nicotine and Tobacco Research21 also revealed there are internal documents stating that the tobacco industry have recognized the danger brought by these radioactive chemicals. According to these papers, acid wash was found to be an effective solution in removing polonium-210 from the tobacco leaves, but the industry avoided using it as it would lessen the pleasurable effect of nicotine to smokers.

The tobacco industry will certainly not be your number one motivator in stopping you from smoking, even if they know that this may lead to your death. It is now your decision to throw away your smoking habit for good and choose a healthier lifestyle, which can add more years to your life.

What Happens When a Smoker Quits

The process of quitting requires determination and patience as it will affect you both physically and mentally, so be prepared for its withdrawal period. But nonetheless, it will greatly benefit in many ways even just minutes after quitting.

Tips on How to Quit Smoking

People who have been addicted to smoking for a long time still have hope in turning over a new leaf. I suggest that you practice these prevention techniques to help you quit smoking:22

  • Choose a Quit Day. Pick a day that is not stressful for you so that you can prepare yourself. It can be your birthday, your anniversary, or even just the first day of the month.
  • Don’t Quit Alone. Telling someone about your decision to quit can give an enormous support when you feel alone in your battle to quit.
  • Know Your Nicotine Replacement Options. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can be a great help in quitting smoking as it can help you overcome the withdrawal symptoms. It is considered safe for all smokers except for pregnant women and people with heart disease.23

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five forms of nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, nasal spray, inhalers, and lozenges) for those who are attempting to quit. But it is still best to ask a medical professional about which form of NRT is most suitable for you.24

  • Get Smart About Your Smoking. Keeping a journal can help you track the situations that helped you up or pushed you down in your attempt to quit smoking, so you can determine how you can deal with them without reaching for a cigarette.
  • Identify Your Triggers. Make a list of all the things that you have done in the past that involves smoking. Before your quit day, prepare yourself on how you will deal with these things.
  • Change the What, Where, When and How You Smoke. Altering you habits – the time and places where you used to smoke – can help you during your attempt to quit.
  • Spring Clean. Wash and throw away everything that reminds you of smoking.
  • Get Support. It is great if you can get help from communities of former smokers or a clinic that specializes in helping those who want quit.
  • Quit Day and Beyond. You have to adjust your behavior to identify what triggers you to smoke.
  • If You’re Going to Do It, Do It! Commitment is key to be successful in your attempt to quit. It will certainly be hard but it is worth it.

Quitting smoking may be hard, but I advise you to do it as early as now. I really believe that having a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle will not only benefit you but your family as well.

Health and Wellness Associates

312-972-WELL

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Rx to Wellness

Does Aspirin reduces the risk of cancer?

aspirin

Did You Know…
… that one baby aspirin a day cuts the risk of cancer development, metastases, and death?
Numerous recent studies, along with a very large British review of published literature, document what many experts have long believed—that is, that small amounts of aspirin over long periods of time can cut your risk of certain cancers.
Below is a round up of reasons that many experts—including your own doctor—might advise you to consider a daily baby aspirin.
Breast Cancer
A study conducted in 2011 showed that women who took aspirin had about a 20% lower risk of breast cancer than non-users.
In another study, breast cancer survivors who took a daily aspirin were 43% less likely to have recurrence and 64% less likely to die from the disease.
Colorectal Cancer
In a huge meta-analysis of 4 large aspirin studies conducted over 18 years, researchers found that taking 75 mg of aspirin (similar to the amount in a baby aspirin) for 5 or more years led to:

  • 70% lower risk of developing colon cancer
  • 40% lower risk of developing rectal cancer

Melanoma
Among 60,000 women studied, those who used aspirin had a 21% lower risk of melanoma compared with non-users.  The longer the women used aspirin, the lower their risk.
Ovarian Cancer
In a study of 20,000 women, those who took aspirin daily had a 20% lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who used aspirin less than once a week.
Prostate Cancer
In a study of 5,955 men who underwent surgery or radiation for prostate cancer, those who regularly used aspirin had a:

  • 57% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer after 10 years of follow-up
  • lower risk of prostate cancer recurrence
  • lower risk of bone metastases from prostate cancer

Other Cancers
One large meta-analysis examined 8 separate studies of more than 25,000 patients who took baby aspirin for 4 years or longer, compared to placebo.  With aspirin, the risk of dying from a several common cancers dropped after 5 years of follow-up:

    10% lower risk for death from prostate cancer 30% lower risk for death from lung cancer 40% lower risk for death from colon, rectal, pancreatic, and stomach cancers 60% lower risk for death from esophageal and throat cancers
When to Start Taking Aspirin?      Researchers say that for most people, your mid 40s are the best time to start taking a low-dose or baby aspirin.  This is when the risk of most cancers starts to rise.  No studies found better results with higher doses.
Of course, researchers don’t know exactly who will definitely benefit from aspirin’s anti-cancer effects.  If you are not currently taking a daily, low-dose or baby aspirin, experts recommend first discussing the potential risks and benefits with your doctor.  Serious risks are uncommon but can be made worse—for example, bleeding, stomach ulcers/gastritis, etc.—by your other health issues or medications.  However, most experts agree that for generally healthy individuals, the risks of taking a daily, low-dose aspirin are low, and the potential anti-cancer benefits are substantial.

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Vitamins and Supplements

Do not take multivitamins that contain folic acid, and if you are pregnant, Do Not take prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

folicacidfoods

DO NOT take multivitamins that contain folic acid. and If you are pregnant, DO NOT take prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid!Folic acid supplementation is dangerous – especially for pregnant women

Women who take supplemental folic acid increase their breast cancer risk by 20-30%, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers collected data on women’s folic acid intake from multivitamins over a 10-year period – they found that the women who took multivitamins containing folic acid were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those that did not. 1,2

A study published earlier this year found a 163% increased risk of prostate cancer in men taking folic acid supplements.3

A new meta-analysis of folic acid supplementation and colorectal cancer risk found that those who took folic acid for more than three years increased their risk of having a colorectal adenoma by 35%.4 In the U.S., Canada, and most recently Chile, colorectal cancer rates have climbed since the advent of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.10-11

Another new study, has found that folic acid supplementation by pregnant women increases the risk of childhood asthma by 26% 5, and yet another study linked folic acid supplementation during pregnancy to increased incidence of respiratory tract infections in infants, especially those resulting in hospitalization.6

This past month in Norway, where there is no fortification of flour with folic acid, researchers conducting a six-year study on the homocysteine-lowering effects of B vitamins in patients with heart disease made an unexpected finding: the patients whose supplement included folic acid had a greater risk of cancer incidence and cancer mortality.7 These patients were 43% more likely to die from cancer.

Most alarming was another study that compared women who took folic acid during their pregnancy to those that did not. Thirty years later those women who were given a hefty dose of folic acid during pregnancy were twice as likely to die from breast cancer.8 Shocking info huh!

If folic acid can have these dangerous effects, why is it included in most multivitamins, prenatal vitamins and fortified grain products?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a member of the family of B vitamins that is involved with DNA synthesis and DNA methylation, which essentially turns genes on and off. Because of these crucial functions, folate plays important roles in fetal development and nerve tissue health as well as cancer initiation and progression.

The protective effects of folate against neural tube defects (NTDs) have received much attention in the past. Unfortunately, this knowledge and public attention did not result in a campaign by the U.S. government encouraging women to get plenty of natural dietary folate from vegetables – instead, pregnant women are pushed to take folic acid supplements.

Folic acid is chemically different from dietary folate, which results in differences in uptake and processing of these two substances by the cells in the intestinal wall. Some folic acid is chemically modified to be more similar to natural folate, but the intestinal cells are limited in how much folic acid they can modify – excess folic acid often enters the circulation unmodified. Scientists do not yet know the implications of circulating synthetic folic acid. Many Americans, through multivitamin use and consumption of fortified foods, are taking in excessive amounts of folic acid, and thus may have unmodified folic acid circulating in their blood – this could contribute to the cancer-promoting effects.9,10-11

The recommendation that pregnant women take folic acid supplements is especially troubling – these women could safely increase their folate status and prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) by eating green vegetables, but instead they are instructed to take folic acid supplements, which put them at risk for breast cancer later in life. The children are also put at risk –women who take folic acid supplements as a substitute for good nutrition fail to provide their unborn children with the additional nutrients in folate-containing foods. Maternal nutrition is a critical determinant of childhood health – there are inverse associations between maternal vegetable intake and childhood cancers.12-13

Unlike synthetic folic acid, folate obtained from food sources – especially green vegetables – protects against breast and prostate cancer.

Paradoxically, in people who do not take folic acid supplements there is inverse relationship between dietary folate intake and breast and prostate cancer.14,3 Folate is an essential nutrient with vital functions. It is probable that folate levels need to be tightly regulated by the body – that the timing and dose of folate is an important determinant of whether folate has positive or negative effects. Folate’s actions on DNA may prevent cancer from initiating, but may also promote the proliferation of tumor cells that may already present.15 Luckily, getting our folate exclusively from food ensures that we do not get too much. It comes naturally packaged in balance with other micronutrients and the body regulates its absorption.9

Rich sources of food folate

As a reference point, the U.S. RDA for folate is 400μg.  Below is the approximate folate content for a 100-calorie serving.16

Spinach, raw 843 μg Edamame 225 μg
Endive 835 μg Tomatoes, yellow 200 μg
Romaine lettuce 800 μg Tomatoes, orange 180 μg
Asparagus, cooked 750 μg Chickpeas 150 μg
Mustard greens, raw 700 μg Red peppers, raw 150 μg
Collards, raw 550 μg Papaya 90 μg
Okra, cooked 520 μg Snow/Snap peas, raw 100 μg
Bok choy, raw 500 μg Summer squash 100 μg
Broccoli Rabe, raw 375 μg Tomatoes, red 85 μg
Arugula, raw 340 μg Strawberries 75 μg
Artichokes, cooked 330 μg Oranges 70 μg
Brussels sprouts, cooked 300 μg Beets, cooked 50 μg
Broccoli, cooked 300 μg Blackberries 55 μg
Cauliflower, raw 225 μg Avocado 50 μg
Red leaf lettuce 225 μg Sunflower seeds 40 μg
Celery, raw 225 μg Quinoa, cooked 35 μg

Clearly, we do not need synthetic folic acid supplements to meet our daily folate requirements.

It is not recommend to take prenatal vitamins generally available on the market because of the potentially harmful ingredients that they contain, such as folic acid. Sensitive to the needs of women who are pregnant or of childbearing age, Dr. Fuhrman designed his own prenatal vitamin called Gentle Prenatal, Gentle Care Formula, which is recommended.

Special recommendations for pregnant women:

– Gentle Prenatal (delivers the iron and extra vitamin D needed by pregnant women) – Osteo-Sun – DHA+EPA Purity – A nutrient dense diet, rich in green vegetables (and folate)

Gentle Care Formula (multivitamin and mineral) Too much of certain nutrients, including folic acid, has been shown to have negative health effects and may also promote breast cancer.1,2,16 This formulation avoids potentially toxic ingredients, such as vitamin A17 , beta carotene18-20, folic acid, copper and iron. All of the ingredients are selected for optimal quality, absorption, and gentleness. This balanced antioxidant blend also offers phytochemical and carotenoid concentrates from green food extracts.

Gentle Prenatal (multivitamin and mineral) contains the same carefully designed combination of vitamins and minerals present in Gentle Care Formula, but has been uniquely tailored to the needs of pregnant women with iron and more vitamin D.

References: 1. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ et al. Folate intake, alcohol use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):895-904. 2. Kim YI. Does a high folate intake increase the risk of breast cancer? Nut Rev; 2006; 64(10PT1) 468-75. 3. Figueiredo JC et al. Folic acid and risk of prostate cancer: results from a randomized clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Mar 18;101(6):432-5. Epub 2009 Mar 10. 4. Fife, J et al. Folic Acid Supplementation and Colorectal Cancer Risk; A Meta-analysis. Colorectal Dis. 2009 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print] 5. Whitrow MJ, Moore VM, Rumbold AR, Davies MJ. Effect of supplemental folic acid in pregnancy on childhood asthma: a prospective birth cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Dec 15;170(12):1486-93. 6. Haberg SE, London SJ, Stigum H, Nafstad P, Nystad W. Folic acid supplements in pregnancy and early childhood respiratory health. Arch Dis Child. 2009 Mar;94(3):180-4. Epub 2008 Dec 3. 7. Ebbing M et al. Cancer Incidence and Mortality After Treatment With Folic Acid and Vitamin B12. JAMA. 2009;302(19):2119-2126. 8. Charles D et al. Taking folate in pregnancy and risk of maternal breast cancer. BMJ 2004;329:1375–6 9. Harvard School of Public Health; The Nutrition Source: Keep the Multi, Skip the Heavily Fortified Foods; http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/folicacid/ Date accessed: 8/29/08. 10. Hirsch S et al. Colon cancer in Chile before and after the start of the flour fortification program with folic acid. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Apr;21(4):436-9. 11. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/591111 12. Kwan ML et al. Maternal diet and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Public Health Rep. 2009 Jul-Aug;124(4):503-14. Tower RL et al. The epidemiology of childhood leukemia with a focus on birth weight and diet. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2007;44(3):203-42. Petridou E et al. Maternal diet and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young children.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1935-9. Jensen CD et al. Maternal dietary risk factors in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (United States).Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Aug;15(6):559-70. 13. Huncharek M et al. A meta-analysis of maternal cured meat consumption during pregnancy and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Neuroepidemiology. 2004 Jan-Apr;23(1-2):78-84. Pogoda JM et al. An international case-control study of maternal diet during pregnancy and childhood brain tumor risk: a histology-specific analysis by food group. Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Mar;19(3):148-60. 14. Sellers TA et al. Dietary folate intake, alcohol, and risk of breast cancer in a prospective study of postmenopausal women. Epidemiology. 2001 Jul;12(4):420-8. 15. Kim YI. Folic acid fortification and supplementation–good for some but not so good for others. Nutr Rev. 2007 Nov;65(11):504-11. 16. http://www.nutritiondata.com/tools/nutrient-search 17. Bjelakovic G, Nikolava D, Gluud LL, et al. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patient with various diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;16(2):CD00776. 18. Mayne ST. Beta-carotene, carotenoids, and disease prevention in humans. FASEB. 1996;10(7):690-701. 19. Goodman GE. Prevention of lung cancer. Current Opinion in Oncology 1998;10(2):122-126. 20. Kolata G. Studies Find Beta Carotene, Taken by Millions, Can’t Forestall Cancer or Heart Disease. New York Times, Jan 19, 1996.