Cough from Burnt Food and Smoking

Recently, I have developed a cough that has been worrying me. Actually it hasn’t been that recent, as it’s been nagging me for over a month! I also actually quit smoking a few months back, and I wonder if this has something to do with that.

I did a little research and found that some smokers actually develop a cough after they quit. It might be called smoker’s cough or something like that. And I’m not even really a long time smoker. I’ve been smoking for only about two years and decided that there was nothing good about it. Actually, developing a constant cough is what made me decide to quit once and for all. I did stop smoking before this on and off because I knew that I didn’t want it to be a long term thing, but the cough is what put me over the edge and get serious about it.

The thing I have always maintained is that I can quit smoking anytime, which I still believe, because I never had any strong dependence on it. I know many people that can’t stop smoking, whether it’s psychological or a physical dependence on nicotine, I don’t know. The appeal of smoking for me is that I once enjoyed the taste of the smoke and the burn sensation it gives, but lately these cigarettes have tasted awful to me and don’t make me feel good at all. So there is nothing good about smoking to me now and there are only very dangerous side effects, so of course the only logical thing to do is to quit.

So this phenomenon of developing a cough after you quit is apparently because your lungs are starting to heal and clean out the system. The coughing is a mechanism for removing dust-like particles from the lungs, which is done by cilia, which are hair-like structures in the lungs. These cilia become active again once you stop smoking, and it begins to clear mucus and other debris from the lungs. Apparently, respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and mucus production begin improving for up to a year after you quit.

Then I did some research and thought that maybe my cough is not related to the smoking, because I didn’t have a problem with coughing in the two years before. Maybe it is a problem with the way I’ve been cooking my food for the last year. I’ve had some problems with some cookware and haven’t bothered to replace them, where they are getting burnt from food, and this is actually showing up on some of the food that I’ve been eating. For example, when cooking chicken in the skillet, the chicken will sometimes get black from some of the burnt stuff on the frying pan. I try to remove some of this black stuff but can’t get rid of it all.

So I looked it up, and it does seem that cooking food until it is burnt and black is not good for your health. The reason for this is that food cooked at a high temperature causes a molecule called acrylamide to form. This chemical is known to be a potential carcinogen in industrial form, but its not for sure a causer of cancer in the burnt food form.

And finally, there is a very coincidental link between my two investigations. Acrylamide is also found when smoking tobacco! So maybe this acrylamide is giving me some problems; I don’t know.

This also led me to discovering the golden rule for cooking food. You should cook food until it is yellow and not too brown or black. I was always taught to cook food until it was brown to kill off the bacteria and also make it more palatable.

So there has been another study that shows that burnt meat might be linked with cancer. There are some compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines. The PAHs develop when animal meat fat and juices drip into flames in cooking, presumably causing some toxic gases to waft into the meat. HCAs develop when there is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars.

Animal testing has shown that high levels of these chemicals are linked to cancer, but these high levels are not the same as the ones people get from eating meat. However, there are some studies that show that fried or barbecued meat is associated with higher possibilities of certain cancers, but these are not absolutely proven to be certain.

So based on this research, it seems that I may have to wait up to a year to find out if I will lose all the issues that smokers have, including coughing, shortness of breath, etc. That means no more smoking and staying away from people that are smoking. I have also decided to be more careful when cooking food to make sure that it’s not burnt, making sure to stop when its yellow, and trying to microwave food instead of using old fashioned fire.