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Top 7 Health Effects Of Tobacco You Should Know About

According to WHO statistics in 2010, non-communicable diseases are responsible for 53% of all deaths in India. WHO data shows that tobacco use kills six million in India, out which five million die as a result of direct tobacco use and rest as a result of being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Top 7 Health Effects Of Tobacco You Should Know About

Tobacco contains around 5000 toxic substances - most important and dangerous are Nicotine, Carbon monoxide and tar.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like ischemic heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory distress are linked to tobacco use and they are the main killers globally. According to WHO statistics in 2010, non communicable diseases are responsible for 53% of all deaths in India. WHO data shows that tobacco use kills six million in India, out which five million die as a result of direct tobacco use and rest as a result of being exposed to second-hand smoke. Health effects of tobacco use:

    1. Risk factor for auto-immune diseases. The immune system is the body's way of protecting itself from infection and disease. Smoking compromises the immune system leading to frequent respiratory infections, sinusitis, tonsillitis etc. Smoking doubles the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

    2. Recent studies shows a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density.

    3. Affect on heart and blood vessels. Atherosclerosis, a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in arteries. Tobacco increases risk of coronary heart diseases where components in the blood stick together to form clots which can get stuck in the walls of arteries and cause a heart attack. Tobacco also increases risk of stroke, which is sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or bleeding.

    4. Smoking affects and damages breathing and scars your lungs. It can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a disease which gets worse over time causing symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness etc. Tobacco also is responsible to cause emphysema of lungs, a condition in which the walls between air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back.

    5. Toxic symptoms in tobacco can cause cancer in lungs, food pipe, oral cavity, nose-sinus area, stomach, windpipe blades, pancreas, kidney, liver, uterus, colon etc. That means practically all vital organs of the body can be affected.

    6. Girls who smoke are more likely to grow excess fascial hair. Bidi contains 3 times more nicotine and carbon monoxide then a regular cigarette.

    7. Tobacco causes leukoplakia, a white patch which is known to be precancerous. It can cause erythroplakia, which manifests as a flat red patch, this is also precancerous. Tobacco may also aggravate submucus fibrosis, a slowly progressive chronic disease in oral cavity which leads to inability to open mouth fully.

Therapy for tobacco cessation
  • There are nicotine replacements used as therapy. The principle is to present the person with a safer and easily manageable form of nicotine which alleviates the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Chewing gum is a very common method. Other methods of delivery are transdermal patches. There are drugs used by doctors which help to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Psychological education provides information about tobacco and its side effects. Spouses and other family members of the smoker are included in smoking cessation programme.
  • Though there are legislations and government policies to help reduction in tobacco use, it is mainly the person himself or herself with strong will and motivation who can quit smoking and avoid relapse.

(Dr Sanjay Sachdeva is the Director of ENT at Max Healthcare in New Delhi)

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