The negative effects (to put it lightly!) of smoking are common knowledge nowadays and recently passed laws, such as the smoking ban in public buildings, has attempted to reduce the risk of secondary smoke to non-smokers. But what are the most common effects of smoking, and how many of them are permanent?
Cancer is one of the first things most people think of on the subject of diseases caused by smoking. The list of cancers that smokers put themselves at risk of may be longer than one would first think, including lung, throat, stomach, bladder, kidney, mouth, cervix and pancreas cancer. Smokers are also much more likely to develop cancer compared to non smokers too, up to seven times more likely according to some studies.
Multiple heart diseases are risked by smokers, and the chances of falling prey to a heart attack or a stroke are greatly increased by smoking. Heightened blood pressure and the hardening and thickening of artery walls – which decreases blood flow and can even cause blood clots, both primary causes of heart attacks – are also problems linked to smoking.
The thickening of artery walls can wear off with time once you have given up smoking, and the likelihood of having a heart attack can be reduced with it. For the effects to fully wear off, however, it can take a prolonged period of time, in some cases a number of years.
The primary problem for the lungs to do with smoking is issues with breathing, shortness of breath and long coughing attacks which can be caused by the carbon monoxide in cigarettes. Luckily, the lungs are much more proficient at cleaning themselves than the heart and you may begin to feel a difference in breathing patterns and stamina within just a few days of your last cigarette.
With public awareness on the health issues of smoking so high, there are many places to turn for help with quitting including the NHS who do free Quit Smoking packs.