Smoking affects each person differently--one factor is the length of time they've been smoking. People who have smoked for five years or more are at a higher risk of developing various ailments. Knowing the effects of smoking and how quitting smoking can benefit someone is important to a healthy lifestyle.
Lung cancer is generally the first ailment that comes to mind when discussing how smoking affects someone, and it can be caused by smoking for five years or longer. The American Lung Association has determined that about 90 percent of people who die of lung cancer were smokers. Other common cancers associated with smoking are throat, esophagus, skin, bladder, pancreas, kidney and cancer of the lips.
Smokers are at a higher risk for heart disease than non-smokers. Nicotine found in cigarettes causes tightening in the arms and legs by clogging arteries. Carbon monoxide, also found in cigarettes, causes a decrease in oxygen to the blood, and therefore to the heart. The longer a person smokes, the higher their risk of heart disease.
Many smokers of five years or more suffer from gastrointestinal problems that can include acid reflux and peptic ulcers. This is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus because of food not digesting properly. Gastrointestinal problems can be extremely painful, and non-smokers have a lesser chance of having them.
Smoking Effects for Women
Women are at risk of stroke and heart attacks, and that risk increases in women who smoke and take birth control pills. In addition, birth control pills can be less effective for smokers. Babies born to women smokers are at risk of weighing less and are at a higher risk of having sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women who are smokers also can have a harder time trying to conceive.
Smoking Effects for Men
A very common problem for men who have smoked for five years or longer is male impotence, caused by blood flow being unable to reach the penis and cause an erection. This problem primarily affects men in their 30s and 40s. Male smokers also may experience other severe problems such as heart disease because of the lack of normal blood flow.
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