Regardless of how you smoke, tobacco is harmful to your health. Almost all tobacco products, from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide, are not safe. The compounds you inhale do not only affect your lungs. They can change your whole body and can cause many complications. Unlike the smokeless snus, which is another variant of tobacco, a cigarette contains about 600 ingredients, many of which are also found in cigars and water pipes.
Many of these chemicals are toxic, and at least 69 of them are cancer-related. Although the consequences of smoking are not immediate, the complications and damage can last several years. Learn more about the symptoms and overall effects of smoking on the body below.
Nervous and Respiratory Systems
Among the components of smoking is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches the mind in a few moments and allows you to feel energized for a while. However, as the effects wear off, you feel exhausted and want more. Nicotine is a very common habit, which explains why people find it so difficult to quit smoking. Physical withdrawal from smoking can affect cognitive functions and make you feel nervous, irritable, and unhappy. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep disturbances. If you inhale smoke, you will absorb compounds that can damage your lungs.
Over the years, this damage contributes to many different problems. In addition to the increased discomfort, people who smoke are more at risk of chronic and irreversible lung diseases. Withdrawal of tobacco products can cause temporary constipation and shortness of breath when the airways and lungs begin to heal. The increase in mucus production immediately after quitting smoking is a good sign that the respiratory system is still recovering.
Cardiovascular and Integumentary Systems
Smoking damages the entire cardiovascular system. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, limiting blood flow. Over time, progressive narrowing, along with arterial injury, can lead to peripheral arterial disease. Smoking also increases blood pressure, disturbs the walls of blood vessels, and leads to blood clots. Together, this increases the likelihood of a stroke.
You also have a higher risk of worsening heart disease if you have already had heart bypass surgery, a heart attack, or even a stent in a blood vessel. The obvious signs of smoking involve changes in the skin. The compounds contained in tobacco smoke alter the structure of the skin. Recent research has shown that smoking dramatically increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer). Fingernails and toenails are not immune to the consequences of smoking. Smoking increases the likelihood of fungal infections of toenails. Hair can also be affected by smoking. An old study found that it leads to baldness, baldness, and graying.
Digestive and Reproductive Systems
Smoking increases the risk of throat, mouth, larynx, and stomach cancer. Smokers have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. People who “smoke but do not inhale” also have a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Smoking also affects insulin, which increases the likelihood of developing insulin resistance. As a result, there is a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its complications, which tend to grow faster than in people who do not smoke. Nicotine also affects the blood flow to the genital areas of both men and women. For men, this can decrease sexual performance. For women, this can result in sexual dissatisfaction by reducing lubrication and the ability to reach orgasm. Smoking may also lower sex hormone levels in both men and women. It can lead to decreased sexual desire.