Everyone knows that tobacco – found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco – is bad for you. Your personal doctor has probably warned you about its harmful effects, but you can also find information from the Surgeon General’s office and from campaigns all across the country.
Dangers of Smoking
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable heart disease and heart attacks in the United States and also in the rest of the world. People who smoke are three times more likely to have a heart attack than people who don’t.
Smoking causes your heart to beat more rapidly, your blood pressure to rise, and it decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. All of these factors combined put you at a higher risk of heart disease and attack. A fairly recent study, Assessing human exposure risk to cadmium through inhalation and seafood consumption. points out that “Smoking populations had 2-3 folds higher morbidity risk of peripheral arterial disease than those of nonsmokers.“
Smoking includes the use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and Indian cigarettes called bidis. While many people think that the use of pipes and cigars is less of a risk, the truth is that they actually have higher concentrations of nicotine and other harmful chemicals.
People often think that using smokeless tobacco instead of smoking is healthier. This is tobacco in the form of chewing tobacco, dip, or snuff. The truth is that this habit is also very harmful for your heart. In fact, if you use smokeless tobacco you’re twice as likely to have a heart attack as someone who doesn’t.
And if you smoke and use smokeless tobacco you’re actually four times more likely to have a heart attack than someone who doesn’t use tobacco at all. And unlike other habits which can be okay in moderation, tobacco use has absolutely no health benefits and no safe level at which it can be used.
But there is good news. If you’re a tobacco user, you can quit this habit and the effects of tobacco will begin to be reduced. For a light smoker, your risk of heart disease can be reduced to that of a nonsmoker in as few as five to ten years of a nonsmoking lifestyle. If you’re a heavy smoker, your risk can be reduced a great deal but may never completely be erased.
If you use any form of tobacco, now is the time to quit. Don’t wait until you have heart disease to leave this habit behind. Unfortunately, many people wait to quit until they become sick. At that point there are many effects that are irreversible, though quitting will improve your chances of survival and your quality of life. But the sooner you quit, the better.