Despite the widespread knowledge that smoking is harmful, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about 15% of Americans over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes. Alarmingly, the CDC also states that one in every five deaths each year is directly or indirectly caused by smoking. Contrary to popular belief, these deaths are not solely related to lung disease. In reality, smoking negatively impacts your entire body in various ways:
- Circulation and heart disease: Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, as cigarette chemicals can cause plaque buildup in your arteries. This can lead to atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries,” potentially resulting in chest pain, heart attacks, or strokes.
- Reproduction and fertility: Smoking can adversely affect the fertility of both men and women. Cigarette smoke contains around 7,000 chemicals that spread throughout the body, impairing circulation essential for fertility. Men may experience reduced sperm count, hormonal issues, or infertility, while women may face disrupted ovulation, damaged reproductive organs, or increased risk of miscarriage and health problems for the baby.
- Stomach: Cigarette chemicals harm your digestive system, significantly increasing the risk of stomach or esophageal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Bones: Smoking accelerates the process of bone brittleness and porosity, contributing to osteoporosis. This occurs as smoking reduces calcium absorption and estrogen levels, both crucial for bone health.
- Brain: Smoking damages your brain, making it dependent on nicotine and increasing the risk of stroke or aneurysm. It is also the biggest risk factor for developing brain aneurysms, which can be fatal if they burst.
- Skin: Smoking can cause skin damage, making it appear older than it is. Some adverse effects include bags under the eyes, premature wrinkles, increased likelihood of developing psoriasis, delayed wound healing, easier scar formation, and susceptibility to human papillomavirus (warts).
Quitting smoking can lead to rapid health improvements. As a faith-based community, we encourage you to rely on your spiritual support system, such as your church or prayer group, to help you quit. Incorporating prayer and meditation into your daily routine can provide strength and resilience during this challenging journey. Remember, you are not alone in your quest for a healthier and smoke-free life.