Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Men's Health

It is common knowledge that cigarette smoking is dangerous to our health. Regulators require cigarette manufacturers to display loads of warning text and imagery on cigarette packages and advertisements. Acetone, nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide are just a few of the toxic substances

Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Men's Health

It is common knowledge that cigarette smoking is dangerous to our health. Regulators require cigarette manufacturers to display loads of warning text and imagery on cigarette packages and advertisements. Acetone, nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide are just a few of the toxic substances

It is common knowledge that cigarette smoking is dangerous to our health. Regulators require cigarette manufacturers to display loads of warning text and imagery on cigarette packages and advertisements. Acetone, nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide are just a few of the toxic substances that make up nicotine products. They damage not only your lungs but your entire body as well. Smoking can result in several complications in the body and as well as long-term damages on your body systems. Some of these risks may manifest later in life, but there are effects that you will feel immediately.

Contrary to what many believe, using alternatives such as hookah, cigar, or pipe will still have negative impacts on your health. There are about 600 ingredients used to make a cigarette, and majority of these are also found in hookahs and cigars. Once these ingredients start to burn, more than 7,000 chemicals are generated. Most of these chemicals are toxic substances, and at least 69 of them have been linked to cancer.

There are differences in the use of tobacco between men and women. In general, men smoke cigarettes more than women, so they also have a higher chance of acquiring tobacco-related diseases.

Central Nervous System

Nicotine is one of the hundreds of ingredients found in tobacco. It is a mood-altering substance that can reach your brain in seconds and can make you temporarily feel more energized. However, as the effect starts to wear off, you feel tired and seem to crave for more. Consuming nicotine is very habit-forming – this is why smokers find it very difficult to quit. They start to experience “withdrawal” symptoms when they stop. Nicotine affects not only your brain, but also your metabolism, hormones, and heart and blood vessels. When you stop consuming nicotine, the addiction makes you physically crave for it. Withdrawal symptoms can make you irritable, anxious, depressed, and can even cause sleeping problems and headaches. The severity of withdrawals will depend on how long you have been smoking and how many cigarettes you usually smoke in a day. The first three to five days after you quit are usually the worst. This is when nicotine in your body is starting to clear out, thus you will begin to feel headaches, insomnia, and cravings. Once you get over these, all physical symptoms will go away. But you will now deal with the emotional and mental challenges like irritability, depression, and anxiety.

Respiratory System

The respiratory system allows us humans to breathe. It has three major parts: the lungs, the airway, and the muscles of respiration. Every time you inhale cigarette smoke, you are taking in toxic substances that cause damage to your lungs. This exposes you to a variety of problems over time. Lung cancer has also been linked to cigarette smoking, and men are 25 percent more at risk of getting this disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 deaths from lung cancer are linked to smoking. Aside from lung cancer, cigarette smoking also exposes a person to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – a chronic inflammatory lung disease causing an obstructed airflow from the lungs. Difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and mucus production is some of the symptoms. Two common conditions are contributing to COPD: Chronic bronchitis and Emphysema. Chronic bronchitis involves long-term cough with mucus, while Emphysema causes lung damages over time. The American Lung Association reported that 80 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking. Withdrawal from tobacco may cause discomfort and temporary congestion while your lungs and airways are starting to heal. Increase in mucus production after quitting means that your respiratory system is starting to recover. Aside from damages to your health, secondhand smoking also harms children around you. Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke more often experience asthma attacks, wheezing, and coughing. They are also more prone to pneumonia and bronchitis.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking causes damage to your entire cardiovascular system. The tar and chemicals found in cigarettes can increase a smoker’s risk of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels. Blood flow is limited by this buildup and can eventually lead to dangerous blockages. Nicotine, in particular, causes tightening of your blood vessels, which results in restricted blood flow. This ongoing tightening of blood vessels exposes you to a higher risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD occurs when the arteries to the arms and legs start to narrow, restricting blood flow. Studies have shown a direct link between smoking and developing PAD. Having PAD increases a person’s risk to blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.

Smoking also results in higher blood pressure, weaker blood vessel walls, and increasing occurrences of blood clots. All of these combined raises your risk of getting a stroke. If you have undergone bypass surgery or experienced heart attack in the past, you are at a higher risk of worsening heart condition if you continue to smoke.

Reproductive System

Men’s sexual health is also negatively affected by cigarette smoking. First, it can give you erectile dysfunction or lubrication problems. Cigarette smoking is a risk to your cardiovascular health, and poor blood circulation is identified as the leading physical cause of erectile dysfunction. This makes it very clear that nicotine and tobacco will also have a very negative impact on a smoker’s sexual health because of their harmful effects on blood supply. In fact, erectile dysfunction has been considered as an early warning to an upcoming broader complication on a men’s cardiovascular system. It starts to manifest a few years before the first cardiac symptoms. The degree of damage that smoking causes to the whole network of veins will depend on the amount and duration a person has smoked. Some studies show that regular smokers have 40% worse erection problems than non-smokers.

Second, smoking can hurt your sperm quality. In 2016, a meta-analysis on the effect of smoking on semen health was published by European Eulogy. The study showed that reduced sperm count, poor sperm morphology (shape of sperm), and lower sperm motility (movement of sperm) were all associated with smoking. It was also noted that sperm problems were more severe for moderate to heavy smokers than to light smokers. Smoking exposes you to high levels of lead and cadmium – these are metals associated with decreased fertility. It was found that heavy smokers have higher cadmium levels in their semen. If your semen analysis results indicate that you are on the border of infertility, quitting smoking may help you improve your fertility such that you would not need to undergo fertility treatments anymore. Or at the very least, quitting during fertility treatments will help increase the chances of treatment success.

Third, smoking also negatively affects your level of intimacy. Studies have shown that men who quit smoking and started to exercise experienced a better sex life than they previously had. While still smoking, some men shared their experiences of loss of breath and reduced appetite for sex. Smokers also reported to only have sex less than six times in a month, while non-smokers reported twice as much in the same period. Sexual performance is not only about erectile function. In fact, it involves several features of the body. So naturally, when the ability of a man to have sex decreases, his sex appetite will most likely follow.

Integumentary System

The integumentary system includes your skin, hair, and nails. One of the most telling signs of smoking are changes in a person’s skin. Ingredients of tobacco smoke cause changes to the structure of your skin. Most smokers have notably darker lips and tongue compared to non-smokers. A study has shown that the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) is dramatically increased by smoking. Your fingernails and toenails are also affected by smoking. Smokers have higher chances of getting fungal nail infections. Lastly, nicotine affects even a smoker’s hair. A study found that smokers experience balding, hair loss, and graying more than non-smokers.

Digestive System

A person’s digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract (GI), also known as digestive tract, which includes the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. There are a number of ways in which smoking can damage your digestive system. First, those who smoke have higher tendencies to experience heartburn and peptic ulcers more often than those who don’t. Smoking makes these conditions more difficult to treat. Second, smoking also increases your risk for Crohn's disease, gallstones, and liver disease. Third, pancreatitis can also be worsened through smoking. And lastly, cancer of the digestive organs, including the head and neck, stomach, pancreas, and colon are all associated with smoking.

Allie Leon, Chief Fun Officer

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