It is unfortunate that before you took your first puff on a cigarette, someone didn’t sit you down and show you a catalogue of the damage you’d likely cause yourself by taking up that infernal habit (complete with goopy, color pictures). Even a blind man could see, in the face of all the evidence, that smoking DOES damage your lungs while smoking and continues to damage your lungs after quitting smoking too. It also has a flow-on effect to your whole body causing harm to many systems. And it does this to a greater extent, and faster, the more you smoke and the longer you keep smoking. The following is a list of the major damage that you could have done to your body by smoking. You have to accept that you did this, take responsibility for it, and then apply yourself to the task of making it as right as you can. You can’t continue to avoid it, or you’ll just keep making it worse.
As you read through this section, remind yourself:
1. Why you quit or are looking to quit
2. What you have to look forward to if you do go back (damn good motivation to stay clean)
3. Why you are working hard to improve your health!
Please note: Some of the following conditions may not have developed during your smoking ‘career.’ Others, well they are unavoidable, at least to some extent, after your first month of smoking. If you want to know how you have been effected by your time smoking, please consult your local, qualified medical practitioner.
Damage Done Over Years of Smoking
Tobacco smoke has over 4000 chemicals in it. These include Ammonia (used in toilet cleaner), Acetone (nail polish remover), Nicotine (insecticide at high doses), Carbon monoxide (a poison found in car exhaust fumes), Arsenic (used in rat poison), Hydrogen cyanide (gas chamber poison), Benzene (petrol additive).
This toxic chemical amalgam that enters the lungs in the form of tobacco smoke is collectively called ‘tar’ when it coats surfaces, like fingers, teeth and air sacks of the lungs. The tar in tobacco cigarettes is a major cause of lung cancer, emphysema and bronchitis. The toxins from the tar can damage lung cells that keep tumors from forming. Cigarette tar also damages cilia in the lungs, the small, hair-like structures which protect the lining of the lungs. In addition to the discoloring of teeth, tar can cause periodontitis, a gum disease that can result in the loss of teeth.
Lung cancer: your chances of getting lung cancer depend on your genetic susceptibility, the length of time you were a smoker and how much you smoked over that time. This is referred to as pack-years (the average number of packs per day multiplied by the number of years you’ve smoked). The greater the pack-years, the greater the risk. When you’re getting up around 50 pack-years and beyond, that’s a lot. If people have a lot of pack-years, the risk of, say, lung cancer never goes back down to the risk of a non-smoker.
Emphysema: a disease caused by the destruction of the alveoli (small, sack like structures at the lower periphery of the lungs) and associated capillaries (tiny blood vessels), where gas exchange takes place (oxygen is taken into the body, and carbon dioxide (a waste product) is released). Undamaged, adult, human lungs have an internal surface area around 753 sq. ft (70 m2), which is roughly one half of the standard-sized tennis court surface! The capillaries that surround the alveoli (the other side of the gas exchange equation) run to a length of about 620 miles (nearly 1000 km)! As gas exchange is all about surface area, you can imagine that this give a healthy person a considerable rate of gas exchange. This is far more than is needed ‘at rest,’ but as a person’s exertions increase, so does their need for gas exchange. As emphysema progresses, this maximal volume/min of gas exchange decreases, effecting your ability to exert yourself. So the tiny little air sacs become bigger ones — and they’re less efficient in transporting oxygen. The lung can’t grow new walls for these air sacs. The lung loses tiny blood vessels and can’t grow new ones. So that’s permanent. Anyone who has smoked for more than a few months has at least some level of emphysema.
(Chronic) Bronchitis: a disease caused by inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the bronchial tubes (the larger ‘pipes’ leading down to the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs). Long-term bronchitis, termed ‘chronic,’ is an inflammation and swelling of the lining of the airways that lead to their narrowing and obstruction. This inflammation stimulates production of mucus (sputum), which can cause further obstruction of the airways. Some of this inflammation can be reversed. But if the inflammation has led to scarring of the walls of the airway, some of that cannot. Again it depends on how long you’ve been smoking, and how many you smoked each day. Also, obstruction of the airways, especially with mucus, increases the likelihood of bacterial infections in your lungs after quitting smoking or during your smoking days.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): a collective term for disease effecting the lungs due to smoking (but can also be caused by other factors, such as long-term exposure to high levels of air pollutants and occupational causes), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD): the narrowing and hardening of the arteries resulting in decreased blood flow in parts of the body other than the heart or brain. This is caused by some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke that are absorbed into the blood stream and transported around the body when you smoke. These chemicals make the walls of the blood vessels sticky, which allows cholesterol and other dangerous fatty material to build up on the inner walls of the arteries and clogging them. Combined with the artery walls hardening (becoming less elastic), this all results normal blood flow becoming more difficult, making the heart work harder (which can lead to heart failure, amongst other things). This reduced blood flow is most critical in the capillaries, which already have very small internal diameters, so you can imagine it doesn’t take a lot to block them completely. Lack of blood flow to an area can cause that area to die, and gangrene is the result.
Increased Risk of Many Cancers: Besides lung cancer, smoking had been linked to the increased chance of many types of cancer, including breast cancer, throat cancer, some types of colon cancer, cancer of the tongue, cheek or lips, stomach cancer, urinary bladder cancer, and many more.
Many other minor and peripheral health problems such as: Alzheimer’s Disease, Lupus, Impotence, Blindness, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acid Reflux, Snoring, Depressed Immune System, hair loss, increased face wrinkles, premature aging, halitosis, stained teeth, stomach ulcers, insomnia and more.
Okay, that’s enough of the doom and gloom. If you have quit smoking or are looking to stop smoking for all the above mentioned reasons, and now let’s work on making you healthier and happier. If you haven’t already, jump over to our main page and check out the great deal available on our flagship product, The Complete Lung Detoxification Guide. With this program, you’ll not only get the best advice available for clearing your lungs after quitting smoking of all that toxic tar, but if you haven’t quit yet, or are having trouble quitting, we’ve got that covered too. Also, you’ll find out of lot about ‘why’ you’ve smoked, which will help you understand and follow our tried and tested methods for staying quit, and living a healthier, smoking-free life.
Until next time,
stay well, stay quit, and lung-toxin free.