7 Dangers of Tobacco smoking to your Health and why quitting today is a no-brainer!

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Dangers of Tobacco Smoking: Why It’s A Serious Health Problem In Kenya

Tobacco smoking is a major public health concern in Kenya, with high prevalence rates, especially among young people. According to the Kenya Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) conducted in 2013, 11.6% of students aged 13-15 years currently use some form of tobacco product[1]. The Kenya National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) also reports that tobacco use is on the rise among Kenyan youth[2].

Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products can have severe consequences for your health. Here are 7 dangers of tobacco smoking and why quitting today is the best decision you can make:

1. Lung Cancer and Other Respiratory Diseases

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for about 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and women[3]. It also increases the risk of other respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis[3]. Smoking damages the lungs and airways, making it harder to breathe.

2. Heart Disease and Stroke

Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke[3]. Chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways, such as by:

  • Increasing blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reducing oxygen levels in the blood
  • Damaging the function and structure of blood vessels
  • Increasing the risk of blood clots forming

3. Type 2 Diabetes

Smoking increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and the more a person smokes, the higher their risk[3]. Smoking also causes insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking makes it harder to control your blood sugar levels.

4. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Smoking is a risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the joints[3]. Smoking can also worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and make the disease progress faster.

5. Erectile Dysfunction in Men

Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) by damaging blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the penis[3]. ED is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Quitting smoking can improve sexual performance and satisfaction.

6. Fertility Issues and Pregnancy Complications

Smoking can reduce fertility in both men and women[3]. In pregnant women, smoking can cause complications such as preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)[3]. Secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy is also harmful to the developing fetus.

7. Premature Aging and Wrinkles

Smoking accelerates the aging process and causes premature wrinkling of the skin[4]. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin, which are responsible for keeping skin firm and elastic. Smokers are more likely to develop deep wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth.

Bonus: 9 more cancers associated with smoking you need to be aware of

In addition to lung cancer, smoking is linked to various other types of cancer. Active tobacco smoking not only increases the risk of lung cancer but also plays a significant role in the development of the following cancers:

1. Bladder Cancer: Smoking is a known risk factor for bladder cancer, with smokers having a higher likelihood of developing this type of cancer.
2. Pancreatic Cancer: Active smoking has been associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can contribute to the development of cancer in the pancreas.
3. Renal Pelvis Cancer: The risk of cancer in the renal pelvis, which is part of the kidney, is also elevated in individuals who smoke tobacco products.
4. Oral, Oropharyngeal, Hypopharyngeal, and Laryngeal Cancers: Smoking is strongly linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, and larynx. The combination of smoking and alcohol consumption further heightens the risk of these cancers.
6. Esophageal Cancer: Tobacco smoking is a significant risk factor for esophageal cancer. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the esophageal lining, leading to the development of cancer in this area.

Dangers of Tobacco smoking -  Cancers Associated to tobbaco use.

7. Stomach Cancer: Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. The harmful substances in tobacco smoke can contribute to the development of cancerous cells in the stomach.
8.Liver Cancer: Although not as commonly known, smoking has been linked to liver cancer. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can have detrimental effects on liver health and increase the risk of cancer in this organ.
9.Cervical Cancer: There is evidence suggesting an increased risk of cervical cancer in tobacco smokers. While the causal relationship is not entirely clear, smoking has been associated with a higher incidence of cervical cancer.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

The good news is that quitting smoking can have immediate and long-term benefits for your health, regardless of your age or how long you’ve been smoking[3]. Some of the benefits of quitting include:

  • Reduced risk of smoking-related diseases and premature death
  • Improved lung function and reduced risk of respiratory infections
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Improved circulation and blood flow
  • Better control of diabetes and reduced risk of complications
  • Reduced risk of fertility problems and pregnancy complications
  • Improved appearance and reduced risk of premature aging and wrinkles

According to the Ministry of Health in Kenya, quitting smoking can add years to your life[5]. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your risk of smoking-related diseases and enjoy the health benefits.

Conclusion

Tobacco smoking is a major threat to your health, causing a wide range of diseases and health problems. However, quitting smoking can have immediate and long-term benefits for your health, regardless of your age or how long you’ve been smoking.

If you’re a smoker, quitting today is a no-brainer. It’s one of the best decisions you can make for your health and well-being. Seek support from your healthcare provider, family, and friends to help you quit successfully. Remember, it’s never too late to quit smoking and improve your health.

References

  1. Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), Kenya 2013 Fact Sheet. (2013). World Health Organization.
  2. Rapid Situation Assessment of the Status of Drug and Substance Abuse in Kenya, 2017. National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA). (2017)
  3. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014)
  4. Tobacco smoke causes premature skin ageing. Journal of Dermatological Science, 48(3), 169-175. Morita, A. (2007)
  5. Ministry of Health, Kenya. (2018). National Tobacco Control Action Plan 2010-2015.

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