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Quit Smoking - Why You Need To Start Immediately

Updated on April 16, 2008

You know you've been putting it off ... taking that first step to quit smoking. The motivation is there, it just isn't strong enough yet. Still, it nags at you. So much, in fact, it's starting to sound like your spouse reminding you that the car insurance is due next week ... it's become more annoying than helpful.

In this article, we're going to give your motivation to quit smoking a little kick in the butt. We're going to make it less annoying and more urgent, because you know as well as everyone around you, that you need to quit smoking as soon as possible.

Your Health

Health issues are the most obvious and most commonly cited reasons for a smoker to quit smoking. And what's the first health issue that comes to mind? No doubt it's lung cancer. But if the thought that someday you may or may not have to deal with lung cancer isn't enough to get you to quit, there are other health consequences that you might not want to dismiss so quickly.

For instance, smoking complicates and accelerates the effects of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known as lupus, is a disease of the immune system in which the body attacks its own organs. Those with lupus are more susceptible to infections, particularly respiratory infections. Those with lupus who also smoke are at a much greater risk of pneumonia and chronic bronchitis.

The vast majority of those who smoke twenty or more cigarettes a day have some level of emphysema, a breathlessness caused by damage to the lungs. In fact, smoking is responsible for eighty percent of the emphysema cases. It also contributes to chronic bronchitis.

Smoking raises blood pressure, which can lead to an increased risk for heart attacks and stroke.

Diabetics, both those who are insulin dependent and those who are not, are at an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack if they also smoke.

Smoking aggravates asthma and can inflame your airways.

Recent studies have revealed that smokers are four times as likely to go blind as those who do not smoke. This is the result of macular degeneration, a condition that often occurs with aging. Smoking has been shown to contribute to blindness when the eye can no longer use the portion of the retina required to see directly in front of a person. While studies have been unable to explain exactly why this happens, they have been able to demonstrate a clear link to smoking.

Most people don't know that more than twenty years ago, cigarette smoking was first identified as a risk factor for osteoporosis. More recently, studies have been able to demonstrate a direct relationship between decreased bone density and tobacco use.

More bad news connected with smoking has come out in a recent study done on breast cancer. Though it has been suggested in some studies that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer, the issue generally remains controversial. However, cigarette smoke does contain chemicals that, in high concentrations, cause breast cancer in rodents. In addition, a 2005 study found that older women who smoke cigarettes or have smoked for long periods of their lives may be up to 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never smoked. In addition, the study suggested that the use of estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy among older women who smoke could as much as double their risk of developing cancer.

The October 12, 1995 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine reported that "smoking is associated with so many abnormalities of thyroid function that it is unlikely it has just one single effect on the thyroid gland." For instance, in women with hypothyroidism, smoking reduces thyroid secretion. It also reduces the effectiveness of medical treatments for thyroid eye disease.

While it may be easy at first to ignore these health concerns since they generally appear be long term concerns, they are alarming in their scope and at the very least should sound a wake-up alarm if you've been having trouble finding the motivation to quit smoking.

Sex/Impotence

Recent studies have shown a link between smoking and male impotence as well. It appears that those who smoke at least a pack of cigarettes a day are sixty percent more likely to have difficulties in the bedroom. In fact, one study concluded that as few as two cigarettes a day can result in softer erections for male smokers. This is largely attributable to the fact that nicotine tightens blood vessels and restricts blood flow.

On the fertility side, men who smoke do have a lower sperm count than non-smokers. In fact, nicotine has been found to reduce the motility of sperm. For women, the more cigarettes they smoke, the longer it's likely to take them to conceive. This has proven to be true even for as few as five to nine cigarettes a day.

Appearance

Not only does smoking stain your teeth, it can dramatically increase your risk of periodontal disease. The result can be swollen gums, bad breath, and weakened roots which lead to the loss of teeth. It can also leave an acidic taste in your mouth.

By narrowing the blood vessels in the outer layers of your skin, smoking accelerates the aging process which results in more wrinkles. When your body is depleted of oxygen and nutrients such as Vitamin A it affects the fibers (collagen and elastin) that normally keep your skin taut and smooth. This is what causes your skin to sag and wrinkle. Unfortunately, these changes begin to appear after as few as ten years of smoking and they cannot be reversed.

An English study, after controlling for age, found smokers were four times more likely to have gray hair than nonsmokers. While the results don't prove that smoking causes hair to turn gray, it does appear to indicate that smoking may speed the aging process.

On a similar note, while more study needs to be done, a recent observational study indicated there may be a significant relationship between smoking and baldness. This seems like a logical assumption, considering the fact that hair follicles, much the same as the epidermis, require a healthy flow of blood and oxygen.

The Loved Ones Around You

Secondhand smoke is produced not only by the burning end of your cigarette, pipe or cigar, but it's also exhaled from your lungs. When it's inhaled by nonsmokers over an extended period of time it can cause or exacerbate a wide range of health concerns, including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma.

Not only can secondhand smoke put your family at risk, or your co-workers, it can put your family pets at risk. Research has demonstrated that smoking can cause of a variety of medical issues for your pets. For instance, cats that grow up in a smoke-filled environment are at double the risk of developing feline lymphoma. Dogs often suffer from respiratory problems. Hamsters and guinea pigs can actually lose their hair when they're raised in the home of a smoker.

Enough Is Enough

So there you have it ... more than enough reasons to get you to quit smoking. Do it for your health. Do it for your good looks. Do it for your sex life. Do it for the loved ones around you. Don't put it off another day. Today is the day to quit smoking.

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