Effects of Smoking on the Body

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Many teenagers and adults think that there are no effects of smoking on their bodies until they reach middle age. Smoking causes lung cancer, other cancers, heart disease, and stroke but usually do not occur until years after a person's first cigarette. However, there are many forms of harm that come from smoking that happen much sooner than you think. In all actuality, smoking has many instant health effects on the brain and on the respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune and metabolic systems. “While these immediate effects do not all produce noticeable symptoms, most begin to damage the body with the first cigarette – sometimes irreversibly – and rapidly produce serious medical conditions and health consequences.” Many teenagers seem to believe that experimenting with smoking or even casual use will not lead to any type of addiction. “In fact, the latest research shows that serious symptoms of addiction – such as having strong urges to smoke, feeling anxious or irritable, or having unsuccessfully tried to not smoke – can appear among youths within weeks or only days after occasional smoking first begins.” The average smoker tries their first cigarette at age 12 and may be a regular smoker by age 14. Everyday, more 3,500 kids try their first cigarette and about 1,000 other kids under 18 years of age become new regular, daily smokers. Almost 90 percent of youths that smoke regularly report seriously strong cravings, and more than 70 percent of teenage smokers have already tried and failed to quit smoking. “New animal studies have shown that brain chemistry and receptors may be altered early in the smoking process. Habitual smoking may continue to change brain chemistry, including decreasing dopamine receptors and thus yielding a more intense craving and risk of addiction.” These brain chemistry changes may be permanent. Also, because the role played by receptors in other mental functions, such as memory and intelligence, is unknown, how cigarette...
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