Our smoking habit: the actual effects on our body and mind

We’re all well aware that smoking is bad for our health. Nobody can deny that. Each year, its estimated that there are around 79,000 smoking-related deaths in the UK alone. Smoking contributes to many serious diseases, yet people still continue with their smoking habit. Let’s remind ourselves of the effects of smoking on the body and mind… you may even learn something new.

Teaming up with stop smoking chewing gum supplier: Nicotinell, we’ve got some interesting responses from their Expert Marketing Manager, Kavita Datar:

What are we putting in our body if we smoke?

Nicotine may be the main chemical that is in a cigarette, but staggeringly, there are more than 7,000 chemicals that have been found in cigarette smoke. Of these chemicals, 69 are known carcinogens, such as benzene, formaldehyde and vinyl chloride. It’s scary to think that some of the chemicals in cigarettes can also be found in products such as rat poison and battery acid!

What are the main effects on our bodies if we smoke?

There are many ways smoking can negatively impact our health, including an increased risk of having a stroke, chronic bronchitis, declined lung function, heart disease, cancer and, for men, erectile dysfunction.

How is smoking linked with cancer?

The link between cancer and smoking is one which is well publicised. Smoking is actually responsible for almost a third of all cancer deaths. It’s been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, lungs, esophagus, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney, bladder, stomach, colon and rectum and liver, as well as myeloid leukemia.

How does secondhand smoke affect us?

Smoking doesn’t only affect those who are carrying out the act. Secondhand smoke (SHS) comes from a cigarette or is exhaled by a person who is smoking. Many of the same harmful chemicals that are inhaled through smoking are found in SHS. It may come as a shock to some, but the cardiovascular effects of SHS on nonsmokers are 80% to 90% the same as the effects on smokers themselves.

How does smoking affect our psychological state?

When you smoke, you can begin to associate the habit with certain behaviours which involve people, places, activities, and moods.  Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and poor concentration.

Sometimes our psychological state can be more difficult to overcome than our physical state if we are suffering from withdrawal. Studies have shown that cravings are higher when people are at home in comparison to during work hours.

How can you manage psychological withdrawal?

Some triggers can be unavoidable, so you must understand how to handle them. If you are stressed, speak to someone and practice deep breathing. This should help you to stay calm. Some people like to meditate or take a walk too. If you’re a coffee drinker, try drinking a flavoured coffee so that your mind doesn’t associate the act with smoking. Similiarly, if you’re driving, choose to head a different route for your usual trip so that the routine is broken.

Are there links to depression and smoking?

Depression is associated with lower levels of dopamine, the natural chemical that triggers positive happy feelings. Nicotine, in cigarettes stimulates the short-term release of dopamine.  However, the chemicals in cigarettes prompt your brain to turn off the natural supply of this, meaning that you are likely to have a sense of being depressed when waiting for your next cigarette.

What are the benefits of quitting?

Of course, there are an abundance of beneficial reasons to quit. Did you know that as quick as 12 hours after quitting, your carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. Your risk of a heart attack also drops two weeks to three months after quitting, while the coughing and shortness of breath associated with smoking decreases within nine months. After 10 years, the risk of cancers decreases, while 15 years after kicking the habit, the risk of CHD is back to that of a non-smoker.