Tobacco, the herb which was known for its medicinal properties has now become the deadliest substance in the world. It is the single greatest cause of preventable mortality and morbidity. Our country sees one million deaths per year. Around 90 million Indians are left diseased and 270 million people are living in distress owing to the consumption of tobacco.
It is time that we rise to this alarming situation and understand its further repercussions if the younger generations are not warned. Every individual should take up the onus of spreading the message with regards to the injurious effects of smoking and chewing tobacco.
HARD FACTS: Tobacco smoke containsmore than 4000 chemicals , out of which 250 are injurious and 60 are proven carcinogens . On the other hand, the chewable forms have 28 proven carcinogens. As many as 50% of cancer cases worldwide among men and 25% of cancers in women are tobacco-induced.
Lung and Head and Neck cancers, which are the most common in developing countries, are induced by tobacco in 80% of the cases .
HARMFUL EFFECTS OF TOBACCO:
ON THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM ( CNS ) : Nicotine which is produced from the smoke is a powerful CNS stimulant. In small doses, it stimulates the brain cells, while in higher doses it is a depressant. Research has shown that tobacco increases the risk of stroke and this risk increases with the amount smoked.
ON THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: The smoke contains substances which directly damage the lung .
This causes chronic cough and shortness of breath, eventually leading to Emphysema and Bronchitis.
It is also a known fact that smoking increases the risk of Pulmonary Tuberculosis and can kill an Individual due to lung carcinoma.
ON THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM: 70% of the incidence of Coronary Heart Disease around the world is tobacco induced.
Tobacco lowers one’s good cholesterol and increases the stiffness of the blood vessels, thereby promoting the risk of blood clots in the heart. Nicotine through its vasoconstrictive effect, is known to increase the blood pressure of the individual. The users, therefore, are at five times a higher risk of attack than non-smokers.
PERIPHERAL VASULAR DISEASE: Smoking can cause large peripheral vascular disease and inflammation in the vessel walls , leading to gangrene .
ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
MALE FERTILITY: It reduces fertility by causing male impotence. It produces malformed sperms, reduces the number and decreases its motility .
ON THE FEMALE FERTILITY: It takes longer for the woman to conceive if she is a smoker. Women who smoke have poor response to fertility treatment.
IN PREGNANT FEMALES: Tobacco is known to produce spontaneous abortion, still births, preterm babies and low birth weight babies. It is also known to produce foetal malformation.
CANCERS: Smoke increases the risk of cancers of Head and Neck, Oesophagus, Stomach, Pancreas, Liver, Kidney, Ureter, Urinary bladder, Uterus, Cervix and Bone Marrow. The chewable form increases the cancers of the Oral cavity, Oesophagus and Pancreas.