When a person smokes a cigarette, the body responds immediately to the chemical nicotine in the smoke. Nicotine causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and the flow of blood from the heart. It also causes the arteries to narrow. Carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. This, combined with the effects produced by nicotine, creates an imbalance in the demand for oxygen by the cells and the amount of oxygen the blood is able to supply.
Long term effects of tobacco
Most people think of cancer when they think of tobacco use. Tobacco does cause a wide variety of devastating cancers. However, tobacco kills even more people through heart disease and stroke than it does through cancer! About 181,000 people die each year in the United States from smoking-related heart disease and stroke, and about 158,000 die from smoking-related cancer. The remainder of the smoking-related deaths, 123,000, are from lung diseases other than cancer.
Hypertension (high blood pressure.)
Congestive heart failure — Ineffective pumping of the heart leads to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
Coronary heart disease – Narrowed arteries lead to heart attack and death.
Heart attacks and congestive heart failure.
Blocked blood vessels.
Strokes – Blocked bloodflow to the brain or bleeding in the brain. Stroke is a major killer.
Smoking causes cancer of the lung, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix. Recent evidence links smoking with cancer of large intestine and some forms of leukemia.
Most deaths from lung cancer are caused by smoking
Although other factors can cause lung cancer, smoking is responsible for 85% of all new cases of lung cancer in Canada.
Lung cancer is a highly lethal disease; only a small minority of patients are alive five years after diagnosis.
The causal relationship between smoking and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus has been established for many years. Smokeless tobacco also causes cancer of the mouth.
Like all tobacco-caused diseases, the risk increases with amount and duration of smoking. Alcohol consumption is also a risk factor for these cancers, and the combination of alcohol consumption and smoking results in a greatly increased risk.
Recent studies confirm earlier findings of a strong link between smoking and cancer of the pancreas and with cancer of the kidney and bladder.
Recent findings also suggest that smoking may be a previously unrecognized cause of cancer of the large intestine (colorectal cancer) in both men and women. Evidence is also growing concerning a link between smoking and some forms of leukemia.
Emphysema — The very small airways (bronchioles) that join the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs lose elasticity. Patient loses ability to exhale fully, and chemical balance in the blood is disturbed. There is no cure for emphysema.
Chronic Bronchitis — The airways of the lungs change shape and size and the mucous glands are enlarged, causing coughing and production of sputum.
Abnormal sperm cells.
Difficulty maintaining pregnancy.
Menstrual disorders and early menopause
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to:
Miscarriage or stillbirth.
Low birth weight –
Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy weigh on the average between 200 to 300 grams less than other babies.
Premature birth –
Both low birth weight and premature birth can lead to breathing and other health problems.
Learning and behavior problems later in childhood.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or “crib death” — Seemingly healthy babies die without warning.
More upper respiratory problems, ear complications, or asthma when exposed to tobacco prior to birth.