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Chemicals in tobacco are as scary as they sound

The Herald-Dispatch - 11/27/2017

Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals and about 70 can cause cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It's no mystery that Tobacco is harmful to our health. Most everyone knows that but do you know why?

The chemicals found is cigarette smoke reaches your lungs quickly every time you inhale. Your blood then carries the toxins to every organ in your body. Exposure to tobacco smoke quickly damages blood vessels throughout the body and makes blood more likely to clot. This damage can cause heart attacks, strokes and even death.

The chemicals contained in tobacco smoke inflame the delicate lining of the lungs and can cause permanent damage that reduces the ability of the lungs to exchange air efficiently and leads to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

For diabetics, complications from the chemicals in tobacco smoke are increased. Tobacco smoke complicates the regulation of blood sugar levels. Diabetics who smoke have a higher risk of heart and kidney disease, amputation, eye disease causing blindness, nerve damage and poor circulation.

In the 2010 report of the Surgeon General, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease, it states that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Damage from tobacco smoke is immediate and smoking longer means more damage.

Let's explore what's in a cigarette that makes it so harmful.

n Methane - sewer gas

n Carbon Monoxide - released in car exhaust fumes

n Arsenic - used in rat poison

n Formaldehyde - embalming fluid

n Naphthalene - an ingredient in moth balls

n Ammonia - toilet cleaner

n Lead - used in batteries

n Methanol - rocket fuel

n Tar - a material used for paving roads

n Nicotine - an insecticide

n Butane - lighter fluid

n Benzene - found in rubber cement

n Cadmium - active component in battery acid

n Acetic Acid - an ingredient in hair dye

The nicotine in tobacco products is the chemical that creates the addiction. All the other chemicals are what can cause damage to your health.

Smokeless tobacco is also harmful. If you hold one pinch of smokeless tobacco in your mouth for 30 minutes, it delivers as much nicotine as 3-4 cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer - causing chemicals including tobacco - specific Nitrosamines which is the most powerful cancer-causing agent in smokeless tobacco.

The American Cancer Society states that cancers linked to the use of smokeless tobacco include: mouth, tongue, cheek and gum cancer. Also linked to smokeless tobacco use is pancreatic cancer and cancer in the esophagus. Other health problems are heart disease and high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and an increased risk of early delivery and stillbirth when used during pregnancy.

If you would like help with quitting tobacco today, talk with your doctor and call the WV Quitline at 1-877-966-8784.

Lisa Green is a Provisional Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist who lives in Boone County.


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