The Toxic Truth About Smoking
What does smoking really do to your insides?
Smoking causes circulatory problems - within just one minute of lighting up, heart rate and blood pressure increase.
It also causes fatty material to build up in your arteries, narrowing them and potentially leading to Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and atherosclerosis.
In extreme cases, a blockage forms that causes gangrene and will require amputation.
The risk of blocked arteries is 10 to 16 times higher and the risk of a heart attack 5 times greater for a smoker than for a non-smoker.
Smoking is one of the factors that facilitates brain shrinkage and has degenerative effects on intelligence. Research has shown that compared to non-smokers, smokers have a smaller volume and lower density of certain brain areas.
The earlier you start smoking, the greater the impact on cognitive abilities and memory. Verbal memory in particular is affected by nicotine.
When you quit smoking, increased oxygen levels will lead to better concentration and improved mental well-being.
In combination with noise exposure and ageing, the chemicals found in cigarettes increase the risk of hearing loss.
Smoking also dulls the senses of smell and taste considerably, and smokers often notice a huge improvement in these senses very quickly after quitting.
Chemicals contained in cigarettes cause a loss of appetite too. Usually the brain responds to loss of energy with hunger, but smoking disrupts this pathway and makes use of the body's fat storage instead, leading to weight loss and possibly malnutrition.
The chemicals in cigarette smoke cause irritation to the eye and increase the risk of all eye disorders.
Smoking destroys the antioxidant nutrients that are necessary to maintain lens transparency. As a result, smokers are more likely to develop a cataract. This is a clouding up of the lens, which can lead to blindness.
The risk increases with the amount of cigarettes smoked a day. The chance of developing a nuclear cataract, which reduces vision, is doubled in smokers of 20 or more cigarettes per day.
Adults who smoke often suffer from hypovitaminosis and their Vitamin C levels in particular are too low.
Smokers are known to have about half the Vitamin C levels in their tissues and blood than a non-smoker. Smoking disrupts the absorption process of vitamins and they are used up quicker than would otherwise be the case.
An extreme lack of Vitamin C can lead to diseases such as scurvy.
Smoking can also damage your bones and smokers are in considerably greater danger of fractures. In particular, the mineral density of the hip bone was found to be lower than in non-smokers.
Bones are a changing tissue that is constantly renewed throughout your whole life. Smoking reduces the blood flow with the necessary nutrients and oxygen to keep your bones healthy.
The reduced blood flow is also responsible for back pain.
Nicotine reduces the nutritional blood flow to injured tissue and slows down the healing process.
The production of blood cells and cells in blood vessels and tissue is reduced when you smoke. Less blood means less oxygen, which is necessary for wound healing.
A smoker's body also produces less collage, a connective tissue necessary for healing. Broken bones need a longer time to heal or might even require special medical procedures non-smokers wouldn't need.