World Health Organization – “Every 10 seconds, someone dies from tobacco use” Medical research suggests that those who start smoking in their teens (as 90% of smokers do) and continue for two decades or more will die 20 to 25 years earlier than those who never light up.
Some of smoking’s less publicized side effects – from head to toe.
1. HAIR LOSS
Smoking weakens the immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to diseases such as erythematosus, which can cause hair loss, ulcerations in the mouth and rashes on the face, scalp and hands.
Smoking is believed to cause or worsen several eye conditions. Those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day are twice as likely to develop cataracts, a clouding of the eyes lens that blocks light and may lead to blindness. Smoke causes cataracts in two ways: By irritating the eyes and by releasing chemicals into the lungs that then travel up the bloodstream to the eyes.
Smoking prematurely ages the skin by wearing away proteins that give it elasticity. Smokers’ skin is dry, leathery and etched with tiny lines, especially around the lips and eyes: In one study, smokers in their 40s had facial wrinkles similar to those of non-smokers 20 years older.
4. HEARING LOSS
Because smoking creates plague on blood vessel walls, decreasing blood flow to the inner ear, smokers can lose their hearing earlier than non-smokers (up to 16 years sooner according to one study) and are more susceptible to hearing loss caused by ear infections.
5. SKIN CANCER
Smoking does not cause melanoma (a sometimes deadly form of skin cancer), but it does increase your chances of dying from it. (this may be because smoking impairs the immune system). And smokers have a 50% greater risk of contracting squamous cell carcinoma – a cancer that leaves scaly, reddish eruptions on the skin.
6. TOOTH DECAY
Smoking interferes with the mouth’s chemistry, creating excess plaque, yellowing teeth, and contributing to tooth decay. Smokers are one and a half times more likely to lose their teeth.
7. LUNG AILMENTS
In the former Soviet bloc, 88,000 smokers die each year from debilitating lung conditions other than cancer. Emphysema, a swelling and rupturing of the lungs’ capacity to take in oxygen (and expel carbon dioxide). In extreme cases a tracheotomy helps patients breathe. An opening is cut in the windpipe, allowing a ventilator to force air into the lungs. Chronic bronchitis creates a build-up of pus-filled mucus, resulting in a painful cough and breathing difficulties.
Carbon monoxide, the main poisonous gas in car exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke, binds to blood much more readily than oxygen, cutting the oxygen carrying power of heavy smokers’ blood by as much as 15%. As a result, smokers’ bones lose density, fracture more easily and take up to 80% longer to heal. Those that smoke more than one pack per day are also more susceptible to back problems. One study shows that industrial workers who smoke are five times as likely to experience back pain after injury.
9. HEART DISEASE
Smoking related cardiovascular disease kills hundreds of thousands people each year. Smoking makes the heart beat faster, raises the blood pressure and increases the risk of hypertension and clogged arteries.
11. DISCOLORED FINGERS
The tar in cigarette smoke collects on the fingers and fingernails, staining them a yellowish-brown color.
12. CERVICAL CANCER
Besides increasing the risk of cervical and uterine cancer, smoking can create fertility problems for women and complications during pregnancy and childbirth. And smoking lowers estrogen levels, speeding up menopause.
13. DEFORMED SPERM
Smoking can deform sperm and damage it’s DNA, causing miscarriage or birth defects. In fact, men who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day have an extra 42% risk of fathering a child who contracts cancer. Smoking also diminishes sperm count and reduces the blood flow to the penis, sometimes causing impotence.
Smokers are two to three times as likely to develop psoriasis, a non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition that leaves itchy, oozing red patches all over the body. While researchers are not sure how smoking aggravates psoriasis, they hypothesize that smoking may alter white blood cells or release high levels of toxic chemicals.
15. BURGER'S DISEASE
Smoking can damage blood vessel walls, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the extremities. In serious cases Buerger’s Disease can lead to gangrene (the death of body tissue) and even the amputation of a limb.
At least 64 elements in tobacco smoke have been shown to cause various kinds of cancer, according to Action on Smoking and Health.
"Every cigarette is doing you damage!"