What you need to know:
- Even before getting to the lungs, nicotine and the other chemicals from cigarettes harm your mouth and throat.
- The mucous membrane of the cheeks is also quite sensitive and gets irritated by chemicals from tobacco thereby causing inflammation.
Smoking cigarettes is bad for your overall health. Everyone knows that. Yet almost every discussion about smoking cigarettes centres on its effects on the respiratory system, usually focusing on lung cancer. Even before getting to the lungs, nicotine and the other chemicals from cigarettes harm your mouth, and throat. Then they are dispersed from the lungs to various organs in your body where they affect key biological processes.
Here are the less publicised health effects of cigarettes.
Effect on oral health
Cigarettes cause gum disease and tooth loss. The chemicals in cigarettes irritate gums which can lead to inflammation and infection, leading to periodontal disease. The chemicals also affect the teeth, causing decay of the entire tooth, including the roots. As a result, a smoker is more likely to lose their teeth. The mucous membrane of the cheeks is also quite sensitive and gets irritated by chemicals from tobacco thereby causing inflammation.
Smoking cigarettes also increases your risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, tobacco use is linked to about three-quarters of all cases of oral cancer.
Effects on mental health and cognitive ability
Not only does smoking cigarettes harm your physical health, but it also takes a toll on your mental health. Cigarettes are linked to an increased risk for anxiety and depression. In fact, people who smoke are about twice as likely to be depressed as those who don’t smoke. And smokers are also more likely to have anxiety disorders.
Smoking cigarettes can also worsen the symptoms of conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Cigarettes aren’t just bad for your mental health, they’re also bad for your cognitive health. Smoking cigarettes is linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Cigarette smoking is also linked to a higher risk for cognitive decline, which is a general term for problems with memory, language, and thinking.
Blindness and other eye problems
Smoking cigarettes has been linked to an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. Chemicals in cigarettes damage blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to vision problems.
Cigarettes are also linked to other eye problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, while glaucoma is a build-up of pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve.
Smoking cigarettes is linked to erectile dysfunction (ED). The chemicals in cigarettes damage the blood vessels, including those that carry blood to the penis. In addition, the chemicals hinder the production of testosterone and other male sex hormones. A combination of these effects makes it difficult to get and maintain an erection.
In addition to ED, smoking cigarettes is also linked to a lower sperm count and a higher risk for infertility. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage the DNA in sperm, which can lead to problems with fertility.
Effects on female reproductive health
Cigarette smokers are at a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. So, not only can smoking cigarettes make it difficult to conceive, but it can also make it more difficult to carry a pregnancy to term.
Ectopic pregnancies are more common among women who smoke. An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. This can be a life-threatening condition for both the mother and the baby.
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can also lead to low birth weight and preterm delivery. Babies who are born preterm are at a higher risk for health problems, including respiratory problems, hearing loss, and developmental delays.
Smoking cigarettes is linked to an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage the joints and lead to inflammation.
In addition to causing RA, smoking cigarettes can worsen symptoms of RA. It can also make other treatments for RA less effective and derail the treatment process. If you have RA, quitting smoking cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Type 2 Diabetes
Smoking cigarettes is linked to an increased risk for type II diabetes. The chemicals in cigarettes damage the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes. In addition, smoking cigarettes also increases the levels of sugar in the blood, which can further contribute to the development of diabetes.
Cigarette smoking affects every part of your body
There are many health effects of cigarette smoking that are not publicised. The smoke you inhale delivers more than a thousand chemicals in your body which go on to affect organs and biological processes. As a result, every part of your body is affected, including the skin, hair, eyes, bones, digestive system, and reproductive system. People who quit smoking experience tremendous improvement in their overall health, both short-term and long-term.