Cigarette smoking is the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in Australia, with over 19,000 people dying of smoking-related illness every year.
One in two lifelong smokers will die from their addiction, and half of these people will die in middle age. Because over 50 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are smokers, Indigenous people suffer higher rates of smoking-related illness and death than the non-Indigenous population.
This is having a hugely damaging impact on our community. So what kinds of health problems can smoking cause? Read on, and you’ll realise that now is the time to ditch the durries – before it’s too late.
Every Breath You Take Over time, the airways in a smoker’s lungs become less elastic and less able to exchange oxygen. This also means that smokers with asthma are more likely to have asthma attacks. Smoking also damages the air sacs in your lungs. Over time, this damage leads to a loss of lung function and a condition known as emphysema – a disease that causes a shortness of breath that increases over time.
As emphysema gets worse, breathing can become very difficult, making it harder and harder for your body to get the oxygen it needs. Fine particles found in cigarette smoke can irritate your throat and lungs. Some of the dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke paralyse and eventually kill the hair-like cells that are found in healthy lungs – these cells are there to clean the lining of your airways.
Because of the damage done to these hair-like cells, which are called cilia, they are less able to move mucus out of the lungs. This gives you that ugly “smoker’s cough”. Cancer causing tar found in cigarette smoke is also more likely to become trapped in the mucus in your lungs. This also makes your body produce more mucus and damages your delicate lung tissue.
The carbon monoxide found in cigarettes actually robs your body of the oxygen it needs to function. The nicotine found in cigarette smoke narrows your veins and arteries. This raises your blood pressure and damages your heart because it has to work harder to pump blood around your body. It also slows down the flow of blood, which reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that gets to your hands and feet.
Because your blood is carrying less oxygen and more plaque (fatty deposits), you’re more likely to get dangerous blood clots or even suffer a stroke. Reduced blood flow and fatty deposits can also damage the tiny blood vessels in your eyes and ears leading to blindness and hearing loss. Poor blood circulation to your hands, feet and limbs can cause severe pain, and can result in gangrene (when living tissue slowly dies) and amputation.
People with diabetes who smoke can make their condition worse because smoking raises blood sugar levels, making diabetes harder to control.
The Big C
Smoking doesn’t just cause lung cancer. It can also increase your risk of suffering from cancer of the: Lips, Tongue, Mouth, Nose, Oesophagus (food pipe), Pharynx (tube at the back of your mouth and nose that connects to the food pipe and wind pipe), Larynx (voice box,) Pancreas, Bladder, Cervix, Vulva, Penis and Anus.
Smoking has also been linked to cancer of the stomach, kidney, liver and blood.
It’s time to ditch the durries – before it’s too late. Call 131 848 today.