The lungs and smoking

Apr 14, 2012 , Michelle Jakubíčková

plice-a-koureni.jpg - kopie
plice-a-koureni.jpg - kopie
The lungs are a pair of vital organs and are often knowingly damaged by smoking. Most commonly, this damage appears in the form of tumours, but other diseases can also occur. In spite of all the clear evidence of the harm caused by smoking to our lungs, the number of smokers around the world continues to grow.

The lungs and smoking

The lungs are vital organs.  They allow for the process of breathing to occur. This is a complicated process that ensures the oxygenation of blood entering the lungs and the release of carbon dioxide from the body, which is a waste-product of metabolism.  Oxygenated blood enters the heart and is then pumped to the entire body.  A wide range of diseases are caused by smoking; they damage the lungs and other vital organs.

Tabacco addiction

At present, smoking can be likened to a world-wide uncontrolled infectious disease and is often called the smoking pandemic.  Cigarette use of youth in Europe has decreased since 1999, although in the Czech Republic the trend is reversed and youth smokers are on the rise. In Europe, lifetime prevalence of smoking ranges from 24-80%.

Effects of smoking on the lungs

People have been smoking for many centuries. The first mention of smoking in history dates back to antiquity.  At the beginning of the 20th century, smoking became culturally acceptable and turned into a modern addiction, mainly due to the influence of commercials and a consequent change in lifestyle.  The consequenses of smoking were unknown for quite a long period of time and the idea that smoking could cause cancer was seen as a ridiculous notion.  The sad truth is that many people still today find the connection of smoking and cancer to be unfounded.  In the 1950s, researchers first discovered proof that smoking greatly increases the risk of lung cancer and other diseases.  Smoking cigarettes was demonstrated to be the most harmful when compared to other ways of using tabacco such as smoking pipes or cigars.  Although it is important to note that these ways of using tabacco are also very harmful.  At present, it is known that the probability that a smoker will die an early death due to illnesses related to life-long smoking are 50% higher than in non-smokers.  Regular and long-term stays in smoke-filled rooms, so-called passive smoking, increase the risk of developing lung cancer two-fold in comparison to staying in smoke-free areas.  Therefore the risk of illness is great even in this case.

Lung diseases caused by smoking

Smoking shortens life expectancy by approximately 10 years.  Smoking does not only shorten lifespan but also increases the incidence of many other diseases that may occur even after a short period of smoking, for example chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emfyzema.  These diseases are characterized by a gradual increase in shortness of breath and coughing up mucous, also there is an increased risk of infectious diseases and many other problems.  In addition, quality of life is greatly decreased and treatment of these illnesses is extremely expensive.  There exists a large variety of other pulmonary diseases that occur more often in smokers and also diseases in other parts of the body.  The most dangerous and well known consequence of smoking is lung cancer.  Lung cancer is directly connected to smoking and in spite of modern medicine, is often fatal.  Lung cancer is the most common cause of death due to cancer in the USA, even though prevention is simple: quitting smoking.

How to quit smoking

It is proven that after quitting smoking the risk of lung cancer decreases by 90% in comparision to the general smoking public.   It is important to not smoke continuously.  If you are a smoker, go and visit a Stop Smoking clinic and get the advice of a specialist on how to break your addiction.  Your doctor can prescribe you modern medication that decreases the unpleastant symptoms associated with quitting.  By not smoking, you are increasing your chance of living a longer and healthier life.

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