Would you believe that lung cancer was a somewhat of a rare occurrence until the early to mid twentieth century? This fact is due to cigarettes gaining popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the UK, among all cancer deaths lung cancer related deaths rose from 1.5% in 1920 to 19.7% in 1947. Cigarettes aren’t the only cause of lung cancer, there are many causes not associated with smoking, but one fact is true: Anything you light on fire and inhale isn’t going to be good for you!
Smoking causes the lungs to age at a greater rate than they would in the non-smoker. Among many of the ill effects smoking causes, lung cancer is one of the most well known. Most people don’t think of heart disease when you mention the long-term health effects of cigarettes, even though it is a leading cause of this as well. One of the reasons it results in cancer is due to the long-term inflammation that is caused in the airways, which over time recurrent smoking tends to lead to increased cell turnover, giving a greater probability for cancer to arise.
Interestingly lung cancers were mainly seen in the central area of the lung, prior to the addition of cigarette filters. I guess the manufacturers thought it would lead to decreased incidence of lung cancers, however, what has actually been shown is an increase amount of lung cancer occuring in the periphery of the lung. Many scientists and doctors believe that this is due to the addition of cigarette filters.
Other lung malaides caused by smoking are emphysema, or a largening of the lung air spaces, and asthma, a cellular reaction to the smoke in the airways causing airway narrowing.
More importantly smoking is a great initiating factor of many cancers throughout the body and has been linked to throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.
Smoking not only does harm to the insides of your body, but also takes its toll on the outside, as well. It can be detrimental to your appearance over time. The rate of wrinkle formation on your face can be increased by smoking. This is due to the nicotine from the smoke causing the blood vessels near the skin to tighten, which impairs flow of blood and nutrients to the skin.
Interestingly many smokers switch to light and ultra light cigarettes because they mistakenly believe that they are less harmful. What they are unknowingly doing is increasing their consumption of carbon monoxide gas, the same odorless gas that many homeowners install detectors for in their homes, which is at a higher concentration in light cigarettes as opposed to regular cigarettes.
All in all, cigarettes are associated with more malaides than the average person realizes. The facts about the health effects of cigarettes smoking are very interesting. Only future studies will shed light onto what the total number of health problems that are associated with smoking over long periods of time.