Tobacco smoke contains nearly 4,000 different chemicals, many of which are poisonous, and some that are known carcinogens. The three main components are:
Nicotine: This highly addictive chemical increases the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as affects mood and behavior. Believe it or not, nicotine is also used as an insecticide.
Tar: This component contains many substances known to cause cancer. Additionally, it is known to cause damage in the lungs.
Carbon monoxide: This gas takes the place of oxygen in the blood, which in turn makes the lungs less efficient. It also stops cells and tissues from getting the oxygen they need to work properly. This same poisonous gas is found in a car's exhaust fumes.
A few of the other harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke include: benzene, ethanol, ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. So when you inhale the smoke from a cigarette you may also be getting a dose of chemicals found in anti-freeze, embalming fluid, nail polish remover, rat poison or even a toilet cleaner.
It's not bad enough that the person actually doing the smoking is getting this concoction of harmful chemicals when they decide to light up. If you happen to be within range of their smoke, you are also breathing in this cockamamie cocktail of pollutants, and the consequences to your health can be significant.
A recent report claims that women exposed to secondhand smoke may have up to a 90 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer. The children of parents who smoke are more likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, asthma and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It is even felt that mothers who smoke and breastfeed may pass harmful chemicals from nicotine to their baby through their breast milk.
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Smoking looks sexy Or at least, that's what the tobacco industry would like you to think. Well, it may look glamorous now, but just wait. Smoking causes deep wrinkles, and yellow teeth are a by-product of years of smoking. Smoking also contributes to osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones, which can cause stooped posture and broken bones — not a pretty picture. In fact, women who smoke reach menopause at a younger age than non-smokers. And, as non-smokers can tell you, kissing someone who smokes is not tasty, let alone sexy.
I'll gain weight You might, but there are a lot less destructive ways to lose the weight. Most people gain no more than 10 pounds. Planning a healthy diet and increasing your activity level will help keep off the pounds. Some of the medications used to help quit smoking can also assist in delaying weight gain.
I'll quit when I'm pregnant It may be harder to get pregnant if you smoke, because smoking is a major cause of infertility. Women who smoke have an increased chance of miscarriage and complications during pregnancy. Also, it might take you a couple of attempts to actually stop smoking, so your chances of success with quitting are better the earlier you start.
One cigarette won't hurt Yes, it will. Every cigarette you smoke takes minutes off your life, and keeps you in a nicotine-addicted state. And, if you smoke around other people, you're hurting them, especially if they have asthma, heart disease, allergies, or are very young.
I'm young—I'll quit in the next few years Nearly all adult women who smoke started as teenagers. Most teenagers who smoke daily don't expect to continue smoking, but most are still smoking five years later.
I smoke light cigarettes, so it's not so bad According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these so-called "light" cigarettes have the same ingredients as regular cigarettes, including lead, ammonia, benzene, DDT, butane gas, carbon monoxide, arsenic, and polonium 210.
Breast cancer is the number one cancer killer of women Nope, it's lung cancer. The increasing number of deaths due to lung cancer is directly linked to increased rates of smoking in women. Also, the number one killer of women is heart disease and a major risk factor for heart disease is smoking.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013