Tobacco harms both the body and the mind. With more than 25,00,000 children and 12,00,00,000 adults using tobacco every day, the thriving tobacco industry has been taking the lives of more than a million people every year. Beyond causing lung cancer, tobacco has multiple destructive effects on one’s health and lifestyle.
However, the larger mainstream discussions have not gone past the carcinogenic effects of tobacco, be it through the flash messages on TV screens or daunting pictures on paan packets for spreading greater awareness. The truth is that though cancer is one of the major consequences of tobacco consumption, several other comorbidities are not
brought under the scanner.
Some of the lesser known health hazards of tobacco consumption are listed below:
.. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, which could be hard to control
.. Iron deficiency, caused by chewing tobacco
.. Gradual loss of ability to smell and taste
.. Could result in infertility due to harm to sperm
.. Macular degeneration (retinal degenerative disease) which could lead to loss of vision
.. Smoking leads to problems during pregnancy, such as babies born with a low birth weight, early labour, death of baby and cleft lip
Tobacco consumption, be it in the form of smoking or chewing, could pave the way for chronic health conditions like COPD, common in today’s society. COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. COPD induces emphysema (a lung condition that causes shortness of breath), chronic bronchitis and asthma in some cases. Smoking is accounted as the killer for eight out of 10 COPD-related deaths.
In teenage smokers, there is an increased chance of developing COPD in adulthood as smoking doesn’t let the lungs grow. The initial symptoms of the disorder could be occasional shortness of breath especially after exercise, mild but recurrent cough, needing to clear the throat often especially first thing in the morning, which can be dismissed as a cold. Symptoms can worsen as the condition progresses and it will get harder to ignore since as a result of the complications associated with it, lungs could be completely damaged. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention at the earliest.
Chewing tobacco is very common in many parts of our country, especially in villages, despite a ban on the same. Chewing tobacco or tobacco products could result in iron deficiency, anaemia, and another largely-neglected disorder which could turn chronic in future: Cognitive decline in men is also an upshot of higher levels of tobacco consumption.
Passive smoking is proven to have adverse outcomes on the health of babies. Smoking habits in pregnant mothers could cause asthma in their newborns, or result in serious complications including stillbirth. Low birth weight in infants can also be chalked up to the fact that nicotine and carbon monoxide work together to reduce oxygen supply to the baby. In adults, the environmental tobacco smoker or passive smoker can suffer from diabetes and obesity. Smoking also weakens bone strength in humans, resulting in increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.
There have been indications that smoking decreases fertility in women, increases the frequency of menstrual abnormalities and decreases the age of spontaneous menopause. In males, it has been suggested that cigarette smoking negatively affects every system involved in the reproductive process.
Tobacco can only cause harm to the human race. So, stay away, breathe clean and let the world stay healthy too.
—The writer is Managing Director, Anand Diagnostic Laboratory, Bengaluru.
Source: Economic Times