Cigarette Smoking

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Cigarette Smoking

The effects of cigarette smoking can be horrifying. Smoking is dangerous not only to those who smoke, but to non-smokers and unborn children as well. Cigarette smoking is also physically and socially harming.

The large particles in cigarette smoke, commonly known as "tar", collect in the branching points of the lungs. The tar contains carcinogenic compounds that increase the risk of lung cancer. The small particles in cigarette smoke, including carcinogens, irritants, and corrosive chemicals, collect in the small air sacs in the lungs and damage them. These air sacs are where the blood absorbs oxygen from the air. When the small particles from the cigarette smoke are absorbed into the blood stream and transported to other parts of the body, they include a variety of diseases.

The smoke from a burning cigarette is a mixture of hot gasses and different sized particles that fills the air with over 4000 chemicals, including 43 carcinogens and over 400 other toxins (Glantz & Daynard, 1991). One of the gasses emitted by cigarette is carbon monoxide, a colorless and orderless poison. By attaching to hemoglobin, the carbon monoxide lessens the blood's ability to carry oxygen. There are many effects of cigarette smoking on the actual smoker. They include lung cancer and other cancers, cardiovascular malfunctions, strokes, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Cigarette smoking may even lead to changes in the smoker's appearance such as early wrinkling and yellowing of their teeth. Heart disease and cardiovascular malfunctions are also major effects of cigarette smoking. A chemical in cigarette smoke called glycoprotein attaches to smooth muscle cells inside arteries, causing the interior of these cells to grow. The hollow space inside the artery narrows, which could cause a blockage of the blood flow to the heart and may lead to heart pains or possibly a heart attack. Lung cancer is responsible for 117,000 American deaths per year according to the American Cancer Society (1992). It is the cause of 25% of all cancer deaths and 5% of all deaths (Schaadt, 1992). Most carcinogens are the actual particles in cigarette smoke that may cause lung cancer. The particles include tar, metals (nickel and cadmium), and other chemicals such as benzophyrene and dibenzanthracene. The lung airwaves are covered by a thin cell layer of epithelium, which absorbs cigarette smoke into the lungs. Once the cigarette smoke has been absorbed into the lungs, the components in the cigarette smoke reach the sputum, a type of saliva. The presence of these components in the sputum may cause mutations in the smokers genes, which may lead to the formation to cancerous tumors. The risk of developing lung cancer is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked (Schaadt, 1992). Many of the cancers besides lung cancer may develop as a result of cigarette smoking. One example is cancer of the larynx. Sometimes the larynx has to be removed because of the presence of a tumor, forcing the smoker to breathe through a surgical opening in the wind pipe. Because the larynx is located near the voice box, the voice box will often get destroyed from the tumor on the larynx, forcing the smoker to use an artificial voice box in order to speak. Less major cancers including cancers of the cheeks, gums, lips, tongue, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas may also arise. Another cardiovascular malfunction that cigarette smoking may cause are strokes. A stroke is damage to the brain caused by leakage from a ruptured blood vessel or an interruption in blood supply. Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke affect the adhesives of blood platelets, the main clotting factor in blood. This can cause blood vessels to harden and form blood clots that can flow to the brain, a major cause of strokes. Nicotine can also cause the blood vessels to constrict. When a smokers arteries become too constricted, his/her blood supply to the...
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