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One of the most preventable, premature causes of death is smoking. However, the addictive nature of nicotine has many of us reaching for our lighters before we remember that our last cigarette was meant to be “the last”.
Smoking is one of those bad habits that can do damage to just about every organ in your body and is responsible for deaths due to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease. Think we’re overreacting?
It is estimated that around 1 in 5 cancers can be attributed in some way to smoking with 4 out of 5 lung cancers being a result of smoking.
Well, apart from the notoriously addictive nicotine, your average tobacco product also includes about 7 000 chemicals. Of this long list, 250 of these insidious ingredients are seriously harmful to humans: hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia – just to name a few. That’s right – your favourite vice contains things like actual poison and the stuff you use to clean the baked-in grease from your oven.
Have we got your attention yet?
Oh, but it gets worse. Of those 250 toxins, 69 are directly linked to a long list of cancers. In case, our last list didn’t make you sweat enough, here are just some of those 69 carcinogens:
Frightening! With all the heavy metals you breathe in during your smoke breaks, you might as well start calling yourself Iron Man! Just without the superpowers. Now you know why people refer to cigarettes as “cancer sticks”.
So How Does My Smoking Habit Factor Into My Cancer Risk?
Just in case the ingredients listed above did nothing to put you off your next drag, try this for a not-so-fun fact:
“Smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer today than they did in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes. One reason may be changes in how cigarettes are made and what chemicals they contain.”
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). Despite all that we know about the very clear links between smoking and cancer, so many people underestimate just how addictive nicotine can be. This is the thing that keeps folks coming back again and again for just one last cigarette, which in turn gives you a hefty dose of your daily (or even hourly) poison to go with your hit.
Everyone has their reasons for smoking – stress reliever, appetite suppressant, a valid excuse to escape the chaos of the office for a minute – but few consider the cost to their health. And before you try to come back with that old story of “It’s my body – I can put whatever I want into it.”, you’re forgetting that you’re not the only one smoking that cigarette. Smokers might be happy to light another up, but the non-smokers around you don’t have a filter to protect them from your second-hand fumes.
With all the cancer-causing threats out there in the world, smoking is by far the easiest to avoid. All you have to do is stop – or at the very least, cut back on the smokes.