Why Is Smoking So Dangerous?

Smoking is dangerous because it exposes the body to hundreds of different harmful substances. Your body is not designed to deal with these substances and they inevitably have adverse effects on your health. Although not every part of the body comes into contact with smoke, when you breathe in, the chemicals contained in a cigarette or cigar get into your bloodstream and from here, they can travel right around the body; this is why smoking poses such as threat to your general health and increase the risk of such a diverse range of illnesses and health problems. 

Some of the most dangerous chemicals include:

  • Tar: tar is deposited in the lungs when you smoke and it prevents the tiny hairs, called cilia, from being able to do their job of keeping the lungs clear. The cilia act like tiny sweeping brushes, but if they are covered in tar, they are unable to clean and clear and this results in an increased risk of coughs, infections and breathlessness. Tar also contains carcinogenic substances, which increase the risk of cancer.
  • Carbon monoxide: carbon monoxide affects the delivery of oxygen around the body, as it combines with haemoglobin, reducing the amount of oxygen carried around the body in the bloodstream. Smokers tend to get out of breath quickly and they may also feel tired and carbon monoxide is one of the contributing factors; this dangerous substance can also increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious respiratory disease.
  • Nicotine: nicotine is the addictive substance found in cigarettes; it stimulates the brain in the short-term, but leads to cravings and withdrawal symptoms in the long-term; examples of symptoms include anxiety, headaches, feeling hungry and restless and a lack of concentration. 
  • Benzene: benzene affects cell DNA and has been identified as a risk factor for several forms of cancer, including kidney cancer and leukaemia.
  • Formaldehyde: a toxic colourless gas, formaldehyde may irritate the nose, eyes and throat. 

Other chemicals in cigarettes include arsenic and ammonia.

The harmful chemicals in cigarettes contribute to a whole host of illnesses, many of which are very serious and potentially life-threatening. Smoking is linked to around 90 per cent of lung cancer deaths, 80 per cent of COPD deaths and 17 per cent of deaths from heart disease.

Another major reason smoking is so bad for you is its addictive nature; the more you smoke, the more reliant you become on cigarettes and the harder it is to quit. Just like with alcohol and drugs, your body gets used to the effects of smoking a cigarette and when you don’t smoke, you experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The ore you smoke, the harder it is to give up.

Commonly, diseases and illnesses linked to smoking develop gradually and they result in symptoms, which are very unpleasant and have a major bearing on day to day life. As smoking has such a significant impact on your lungs, it is very common to experience symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing, wheezing and chest infections. 

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