Despite the growing awareness about its side effects, cigarette smoking remains to be one of the biggest killers in America today. It is responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is a major factor in other life threatening diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
Cigarette Smoking and Cancer
Cancer may be affected by genetic factors but it is also largely affected by lifestyle factors. People, who don’t observe proper diet, do not exercise, drink alcohol excessively, and smoke, are more at risk of developing cancer. While lung cancer is the most common effect of long-term smoking, it is also linked to some other types of cancer, such as mouth and stomach cancer.
Many people think that if they smoke “light cigarettes”, they are reducing the risk of smoking. But, numerous studies have shown that there is no better or healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. What’s more, people who use light cigarettes are more likely to smoke more, so they are actually getting the same (if not higher) amount of nicotine than those who smoke regular cigarettes. The same is true with menthol cigarettes. New research revealed that menthol cigarettes are more dangerous than non-flavored tobacco products. It’s because menthol lets the smoker inhale smoke more deeply, allowing more chemicals to get in and damage his or her body.
So how does smoking cause cancer?
Cigarettes contain cancer-causing ingredients.
Out of the more than 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco, over 200 are known carcinogens. While the amount present in a stick of cigarette is too small to cause cancer, long-term smoking makes a person at risk of cancer. It’s because over time, these chemicals accumulate in the body until they become too many to damage the cells and destroy them. Carcinogens in the cigarettes contain cyanide, benzene (used to make plastic and rubber products), ammonia (used as cleaning agent), acetylene (used to fuel welding torches), formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies and body parts), methanol (wood alcohol), and tar.
Cigarettes contain nicotine.
While nicotine is not a cancer-causing chemical, it makes a person addictive to cigarettes, making quitting difficult. Frequent use of cigarettes could lead to nicotine addiction, and over time, the smoker’s tolerance to tobacco gets higher.
It alters how healthy cells behave.
The moment the cigarette is lit, its chemicals react with each other in the way that they change the way healthy cells behave. Cells grow faster during childhood but slow down during adulthood. By that time, cells are only produced to replace damaged ones. Smoking alters this life-saving process, preventing the production of new cells and activating the cancer cells in the body that work by destroying healthy cells and damaging tissues and organs. These cancer-causing cells quickly spread in the body, damaging other organs.
By quitting smoking today, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer, along with other illnesses. What’s more, you will have a healthier body and a happier life!