How Bad Is Nicotine, Really?

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

Chances are, you have read several articles discussing the ill benefits of smoking or you have seen it in many anti-smoking slogans. And by now you’re wondering how bad nicotine really is to your health. Below are some facts about the health risks of nicotine.

bigstock-Pretty-young-woman-smoking-dan-54177854The harm caused by smoking is cumulative. Most people would think that cigarettes labeled as “milds” or “lights” are in some way safer than regular cigarettes. But mind you, there is no such word as mild or light cancer. The label actually describes the taste of tobacco and not the nicotine content on that particular brand of cigarette.

There is really no safe amount of nicotine as its effects to your health accumulate over time. The longer you smoke, the more you’ll suffer from its negative effects. You also need to consider your health history. For diabetics, smoking is a very dangerous habit as it raises blood sugar, or it can determine whether you’ll develop full blown diabetes. This problem in blood sugar control increases your other health risks including stroke and heart attacks.


Cardiovascular Diseases

Nicotine not only raises your blood sugar, it also affects your blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and/or stroke. The stimulating effect of nicotine gives you a temporary boost and causes your heart to work faster and harder. Overtime, this will cause the blood pressure to go off.

It is not the act of smoking that causes these changes in your blood pressure, it is the nicotine. This is among the reasons why most nicotine replacement therapies may not be very helpful in reducing the health risks of smoking. The same harmful effects of nicotine are still present.


Lung Diseases

Nicotine harms your lungs too, but most of the risks come from smoking. It causes the airways to constrict and swell, making it harder for air to pass through the lungs. Eventually, these risks will accumulate and develop into chronic lung diseases, such as COPD, lung cancer, and emphysema.

Addiction

Nicotine is very addictive both psychologically and physically. This is the reason why you would always anticipate for the next cigarette, even if you have just finished smoking. This causes great anxiety for some smokers. For instance, it is very distracting for smokers to know that they cannot smoke confronted by a specific situation like being confined in a hospital, where smoking is prohibited. This is particularly stressful for smokers.

On the Other Hand

Pharmaceutical experts are presently studying the possibility of using nicotine in improving cognitive function in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. There is also a chance that nicotine may be helpful in preventing Parkinson’s disease.

Still, some recent studies are hopeful about the positive effects of nicotine to patients suffering from ulcerative colitis and mood disorders.


The Bottom Line

It appears that nicotine is more adversary than helpful. Also, it seems that majority of its risks are more serious in those individuals who smoke. This is because of the additional harmful effects of smoking. Quitting smoking without the help of nicotine might be more efficient.


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