The Effects of Smoking on the Body
The custom of smoking tobacco originated with the Indians possibly as early as one hundred A.D. Tobacco was used at first principally in connection with religious rituals, but by the end of the fifteenth century, smoking was quickly becoming a common personal practice. There are at least four thousand different toxic chemicals which have been identified as products of tobacco smoke. Nicotine is among these and has become one of the most widely used stimulants today, even though it has been well documented that smoking contributes generously to the national mortality rates. Nevertheless, a large percent of the adult population has chosen to disregard the evidence and continue to smoke. The health consequences of smoking have the most serious impact on the body in the forms of heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema.
The most crucial effect of smoking on the body comes from heart disease, which accounts for more than fifty percent of all deaths in smokers. Most of the fatalities are due to the drug effects of nicotine. Nicotine, as a stimulant, increases heart rate and blood pressure. When a smoker inhales nicotine into the lungs, it is quickly taken in by the blood and carried to all parts of the body. All these stimulating effects caused by this drug combine to overwork the heart. If a smoker’s heart is exposed to these events twenty or more times a day it will almost certainly be adversely affected. Smoking is also related to heart disease by releasing stores of fatty acids, resulting in arteriosclerosis. The carbon monoxide in the smoke can significantly decrease cardiac work capacity. Since carbon monoxide cannot carry oxygen, less oxygen will be delivered to the heart, which can damage its tissue. Even though there is a trend toward low-nicotine cigarettes, in reality they do not have much value in the prevention of heart disease because it is impossible to reduce carbon monoxide content.
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