Tobacco Use in the US

This study surprised me a little. I thought smoking was really getting unpopular in the US compared to past years due to more educated people and millennials being more health conscious. However, apparently 1 in 5 American still use some type of tobacco product, whether it’s a cigarette, ecig, or hookah. Still 1 in 5! Despite the fact that smoking rates have been declining for decades. That’s roughly 50 million people still smoking or using tobacco products in the US.

A habit that causes 480,000 people to die each year, including 42,000 people from secondhand smoke, is a serious situation. Generally, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, which is an astonishing figure. Most people don’t know that smoking can cause cancer throughout your whole body, including the nose, mouth, larynx, trachea, esophagus, throat, lungs, liver, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, cervix, bone marrow, blood, colon, and rectum. It’s not just the lungs that can be destroyed. Smoking also harms your heart, blood, autoimmune system, bones, lungs, vision, and reproductive system. It is also a known cause of leukemia.

Specifically, smoking attacks the autoimmune system and increases the risk of all kinds of ailments. It also causes your bones to weaken and increases the chances of osteoporosis. With regards to heart and blood health, the chemicals in tobacco smoke harm blood cells and the heart, which can lead to atherosclerosis, which causes plaque buildup in the arteries; coronary heart disease, which narrows and blocks arteries around the heart from blood platelets clotting and getting clogged in plaque; heart attacks; and high blood pressure.

With regards to the lungs and respiratory system, every cigarette that you smoke damages your breathing and scars the lungs. Smoking damages the lung tissues and can cause emphysema, where the walls between the air sacs in the lungs lose the ability to stretch and shrink which makes it difficult to breathe.

Overall, tobacco smoke is known to contain more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known cancer causing agents for areas such as the lungs, trachea, bronchus, esophagus, oral cavity, lip, nasopharynx, nasal cavity, larynx, stomach, bladder, pancreas, kidney, liver, uterine cervix, colon, and rectum. Just reading this is scary and only the laziest and most ignorant would ignore these facts.

One dangerous trend of those ignorant to the facts is the rise of ecigs and hookah. Many people assume these are safer alternatives. Although they may be safer in some respects, they still have extremely harmful qualities and should not be thought of as a safe alternative. These can be even more harmful for minors, because it can get them introduced to cigarettes later on, without even mentioning the harmful health effects they alone can have on health.

I have close friends that are smokers and I always urge them to try to stop, but they either can’t stop or are just blindly optimistic about this fatal habit. Smoking is just this weird habit that is psychologically and physically ingrained for many people, and despite all the facts of how it can kill, they continue with it, assuming they will be alright. I think the only solution is to pound into people’s heads the facts of the dangers of smoking and make it uncool, because the psychological component of smoking seems to be the most significant for most people.

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.