Last Updated on Nov 17, 2018
Effects of Smoking on the Body
Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Studies have reported that cigarette smoke contains approximately 4800 compounds, out of which 100 compounds are carcinogens.
Tobacco products are dangerous and there are no safe substances present in these products. The smoke you inhale not only affects your lungs, but also negatively impacts each organ system of your body. Let's have a look at what does smoking do to your body.
Smoking is associated with many dermatological conditions such as poor wound healing, acne, psoriasis, melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and premature aging of the skin.
Smoking impairs the production of collagen and increases the formation of tropoelastin and matrix metalloproteinases. These compounds cause degradation of collagen, a protein responsible for skin firmness, elasticity and younger-looking skin.
This gives rise to signs of premature aging of the skin like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and dark circles.
Cigarette smokers have lower semen volumes, sperm count and percentage of motile sperm as compared to men who did not smoke.
Zinc plays a vital role in the development and quality and quantity of the sperm. Smoking reduces the level of zinc in the semen, which in turn affects reproductive health.
Cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine causes abnormal sperm morphology. Smoking also reduces the success of in vitro fertilization, which is an assisted reproduction technique.
The risk of heart failure is four folds more in cigarette smokers compared to non-smokers. Smoking is a major contributing factor in all forms of cardiovascular diseases because:
It impairs the endothelial function. The endothelium is the inner lining of the heart and the blood vessels. Any damage to this inner lining precedes the development of heart diseases.
Smoking causes the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels, which predisposes to stroke. Smoking also increases oxidative stress and inflammation, which has a negative impact on the functioning of the heart muscles.
Smoking affects the digestive tract in the following ways:
: Cigarette smoking reduces the strength of the lower esophageal sphincter and allows the stomach acids to flow backward into the esophagus, thus causing heartburn and hyperacidity.
: The risk of infection with Helicobacter pylori
, which causes peptic ulcers is high in smokers. Chronic cigarette smoking also increases the amount of acid secreted by the stomach. This damages the inner lining of the stomach and causes peptic ulcer formation.
The papilla of a hair follicle contains numerous blood vessels that supply essential nutrients, thereby nourishing the hair. Cigarette smoking damages these blood vessels and thus, causing hair loss.
Smoking also damages the DNA of the hair follicle that affects the hair growth cycle. Furthermore, smoking leads to the release of pro-inflammatory compounds, which causes inflammation and fibrosis of the hair follicles.
Exposure to cigarette smoke damages the pancreas, elevates pancreatic levels of digestive zymogens and alters gene function. This increases the susceptibility to pancreatitis.
Furthermore, dangerous compounds from cigarette smoke damage the acinar cells of the pancreas, thereby reducing the secretion of digestive enzymes leading to maldigestion.
Nicotine also increases the oxidative stress, damages the cells of the pancreas and increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. It also accelerates the progression of alcoholic chronic pancreatitis.
The chemicals created by smoking induce oxidative stress, wherein the free radicals damage and destruct the liver cells. This causes hardening of the liver, which leads to functional and structural changes.
The liver is unable to detoxify the toxic substances, which causes accumulation of waste products in the blood and body. Furthermore, not only alcohol, but smoking also ups an individual's risk for liver cancer.
Smoking affects both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. Nicotine blocks the production of white blood cells and suppresses the antibody-forming cells. This reduces the ability of the body to fight against bacteria and other foreign invaders, which may cause damage to the body.
Nicotine further inhibits the T-cells, that are the most important weapons against harmful invaders. Studies have observed that cessation of smoking reverses these effects and elevates both cell-mediated and antibody immune response.
The chemical substances from cigarette smoke like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar interfere in the mechanism of air filtering and cleaning of the lungs. Cigarette smoke also causes lung irritation and mucus overproduction.
Smoking is the cause of 90% of the overall deaths from lung cancer and 80% of overall deaths from COPD.
Smoking reduces the number and the action of cilia, which are the hair-like projections in the lungs responsible for cleaning the dust and dirt. This results in accumulation of toxic substances and lung congestion.
Smoking is recognized as a risk factor for dementia in the elderly. Cigarette smoking is associated with poorer performance on those tasks that are more cognitively demanding.
Cigarette smoking works against a person's ability to apply sufficient cognitive resources to achieve maximal performance.
Smoking damages the part of the brain, which is linked to memory. It also reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain, which further leads to cognitive decline.