Rule 5 Never Smoke, But If You Smoke Now, Quit
The good news: There are more methods than ever to help smokers quit. In fact, there are slightly more former smokers than there are active smokers in the United States. By calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), smokers can get started finding the medical help, counseling and support they need to give up the habit for good. Nicotine is highly addictive, and quitting can be difficult, but the benefits are lifesaving. A year after a smoker quits, her risk of coronary heart disease falls to half that of a smoker. Five years on, stroke risk is similar to that of people who have never smoked. Repairing the damage is possible, but it takes time.
Smoking is associated with these complications:
Cigarette smoke has nearly 4,000 toxic ingredients, and lung tissue takes a direct hit. Each puff carries nicotine, tar and more than 40 cancer-causing toxins.
A class of pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in cigarette smoke target cells in the eye's lens. PAHs destroy retinal cells and photoreceptors, contributing to macular degeneration.
Smokers' risk of heart disease is 2 to 4 times that of nonsmokers', and their risk of sudden death from a heart attack is twice that of nonsmokers.
Low birth weight
Expectant mothers who smoke expose the fetus to grievous harm. Nicotine causes the uterine blood vessels to narrow. As a result, overall fetal growth is slowed and brain development can be seriously impeded. The likelihood of premature birth and other delivery complications is higher for smokers.
Smokers seem to have slower healing of wounds from surgery and injuries. Cigarette smoking appears to decrease oxygen flow to healing tissue, and it may also impair fibroblasts, the cells that help tissue to heal.
Smoking is the main risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive disease that can make breathing difficult. Skeletal muscle dysfunction is a common result of this disease. Individuals with skeletal muscle dysfunction may experience a loss of muscle mass, decreased strength, and lower endurance.
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