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Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking Bad Effects

12/27/2007

Question:

what is the process,why do cancer,cardiovascular disease,heart problem,,,etc.is the effects of the smoking.

Answer:

This is a bit of a complicated question: kind of like asking, "How does the brain work?" The answer to the brain question is "We don't really know" and the answer to your question is just about the same. We know the brain does work and we certainly know that smoking causes heart disease, cancer, emphysema, impotence, baldness, depression, wrinkles, etc., but we don't know exactly how.

For heart disease we know that smoking increases bad cholesterol and clotting and stresses the heart and blood vessels with increased contraction. The large amount of carbon monoxide reduces oxygen to the heart and there may be other irritants among the 4000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke. This stress also affects the smaller blood vessels that feed the scalp, penis, skin and other organs causing poor blood flow and potentially organ failure.

For cancer, there are dozens of known cancer causing chemicals (carcinogens) found in smoke. These either irritate the cell or directly encourage breakdown of the cells' genes and DNA until the cell mutates into a cancer cell. Smoking also weakens the immune system, allowing cancer cells to better survive our body's own cancer detection system.

For depression and other mental illness, we know that nicotine is a powerful stimulant of dopamine and adrenaline receptors deep in the brain. An average pack-a-day smoker will jolt that deep brain system 70,000 times per year. How exactly that might contribute to the very high rates of depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia found in smokers, we don't exactly know, but try sticking your finger in a light socket 70,000 times and see what it does to your arm.

That's the short answer to a long question. If you want a short answer to a longer life, quit smoking ... today.

Related Resources:

Smoking Increases Risk of Heart Disease

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Rob  Crane, MD Rob Crane, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University