Dangers of 69 Cancer Causing Chemicals in Cigarettes to Men, Women and Unborn Babies

By CiglessBot

There are 69 known cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke.

While nicotine itself isn’t thought to be carcinogenic, it’s the reason why smokers continue the habit.

This highly addictive drug is toxic and potentially lethal in large doses.

Apart from its use in tobacco products, nicotine is a scheduled poison under the State Poisons Act. When they get their dose of nicotine, smokers also inhale about 4,000 other chemicals.

Most of these compounds are chemically active, and trigger profound and damaging changes in the body.

Tobacco smoke contains dangerous chemicals. The most damaging compounds in tobacco smoke include:

Picture of a smoker1,3-butadiene – or BDE is an industrial chemical used in rubber manufacture. Some scientists believe that of all the chemicals in tobacco smoke, BDE may present the greatest overall cancer risk. It may not be as good at causing cancer as some of the other chemicals listed here, but it is found in large amounts in tobacco smoke.

Ammonia – ammonia is a strong chemical, found in household cleaners and formaldehyde (used for preserving organs of dead people in morgues), which also damages the lungs.

Arsenic – is one of the most dangerous chemicals in cigarettes. It can cause cancer as well as damaging the heart and its blood vessels. Small amounts of arsenic can accumulate in smokers’ bodies and build up to higher concentrations over months and years. As well as any direct effects, it can worsen the effect of other chemicals by interfering with our ability to repair our DNA.

Acrolein – is a gas with an intensely irritating smell and is one of the most abundant chemicals in cigarette smoke. It belongs to the same group of chemicals as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both of which can cause cancer.

Benzene – is a solvent used to manufacture other chemicals, including petrol. It is well-established that benzene can cause cancer, particularly leukemia. It could account for between a tenth and a half of the deaths from leukemia caused by smoking.

Cadmium – is a metal used mostly to make batteries. The majority of cadmium in our bodies comes from exposure to tobacco smoke. Smokers can have twice as much cadmium in their blood as non-smokers.

Carbon monoxide – this odor less gas is fatal in large doses because it takes the place of oxygen in the blood. Each red blood cell contains a complicated protein called hemoglobin; oxygen molecules are transported around the body by binding to, or hanging onto, this protein. However, carbon monoxide has an even greater affinity for binding to hemoglobin than does oxygen. This means that the heart of a smoker has to work much harder to get enough oxygen to the brain, heart, muscles and other organs.

Formaldehyde – is a smelly chemical used to kill bacteria, preserve dead bodies and manufacture other chemicals. It is one of the substances in tobacco smoke most likely to cause diseases in our lungs and airways.

Hydrogen cyanide – the lungs contain tiny hairs (cilia) that help to ‘clean’ the lungs by moving foreign substances out. Hydrogen cyanide stops this lung clearance system from working properly, which means the poisonous ingredients of tobacco smoke are allowed to remain inside the lungs.

Metals – tobacco smoke contains dangerous metals including arsenic, cadmium and lead. Many of these metals are carcinogenic.

Nitrogen oxides – animal experiments have shown that nitrogen oxides damage the lungs. It is thought that nitrogen oxides are some of the particular chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause the lung disease emphysema.

Polonium-210 – is a rare, radioactive element and polonium-210 is its most common form. Polonium strongly emits a very damaging type of radiation called alpha-radiation that can usually be blocked by thin layers of skin. But tobacco smoke contains traces of polonium, which become deposited inside their airways and deliver radiation directly to surrounding cells.

Chemical properties of polonium-210

Radioactive compounds – tobacco smoke contains radioactive compounds, which are known to be carcinogenic.

Tar – this is the collective term for all the various particles suspended in tobacco smoke. The particles contain chemicals including nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Tar is sticky and brown, and stains teeth, fingernails and lung tissue. Tar contains the carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene that is known to trigger tumour development (cancer).

Smoking Effects on the Respiratory system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the respiratory system include:
–Irritation of the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box).
–Reduced lung function and breathlessness due to swelling and narrowing of the lung airways and excess mucus in the lung passages.
–Inability of the lungs to cough out and clear poisonous substances, which results in lung irritation and damage.

Smoking and the Circulatory system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the circulatory system include:
–Raised blood pressure and heart rate.
–Constriction (tightening) of blood vessels in the skin, resulting in a drop in skin temperature.
–Less blood, which carries oxygen, available to the body.
–Stickier blood, which is more prone to clotting.
–Damage to the lining of the arteries, which is thought to be a
contributing factor to atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits on the artery walls).
–Increased risk of stroke and heart attack due to blockages of the blood supply.

Cigarettes Effects on the Immune system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the immune system include:
–The immune system doesn’t work as well.
–The person is more prone to infections.
–It takes longer to get over an illness.

Smoking Addiction Dangers to Musculoskeletal System

The effects of tobacco smoke on the musculoskeletal system include:
–Reduced blood flow to extremities like fingers and toes
–Tightening of the muscles
–Reduced bone density.

Other Effects Of Smoking On the Body

Other effects of tobacco smoke on the body include:
–Irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines
–Increased risk of bleeding ulcers along the digestive tract
–Reduced ability to smell and taste
–Premature wrinkling of the skin
–Higher risk of blindness and hearing loss
–Gum disease.

Smoking and The Male Body

The specific effects of tobacco smoke on the male body include:
–Lower sperm count
–Higher percentage of deformed sperm
–Reduced sperm mobility
–Lower sex drive
–Reduced levels of male sex hormones
–Impotence, caused by reduced blood flow to the penis
–Increased risk of reproductive system cancers, including penile cancer.

Smoking Effects on the Female Body

The specific effects of tobacco smoke on the female body include:
–Reduced fertility.
–Lower sex drive.
–Reduced levels of female sex hormones.
–Menstrual cycle irregularities or absence of menstruation.
–Menopause reached one or two years earlier.
–Increased risk of reproductive system cancers, including cancers of the cervix, vulva and breast.
–Greatly increased risk of stroke and heart attack if the smoker is aged over 35 years and taking the oral contraceptive pill.
–Can increase facial hair.
–Can lead to depression.

Smoking Dangers to the Unborn Baby

The effects of maternal smoking on the unborn baby include:
–Increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
–Low birth weight.
–Increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip.
–Greater risk of developmental problems, such as attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
–Paternal smoking can also harm the fetus if the non-smoking mother is exposed to passive smoking.

If the mother continues to smoke during her baby’s first year of life, the child has an increased risk of ear infections, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and childhood cancers such as acute lymphocytic leukaemia.

Diseases Caused by Long Term Smoking

A lifetime smoker is at high risk of developing a range of potentially
lethal diseases, including:
All types of cancer, such as cancer of the lung, mouth, nose, throat,
pancreas, blood, kidney, penis, cervix, bladder and anus. Lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Coronary artery disease, heart disease and heart attack. Ulcers of the digestive system. Osteoporosis. Poor blood circulation in extremities, which can lead to amputation.

Things to Remember

Most of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke are chemically active and
trigger profound and potentially fatal changes in the body.

The most damaging substances in tobacco smoke include tar, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, metals, ammonia and radioactive compounds.

Sources: Surgeon General, U.S
National Center For Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
UK’s “Smoke is Poison” campaign, funded by the Department of Health.

 

 

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Comments
  1.  
    By Lindy-Lou
    March 20, 2010
     

    If a person is exposed to passive smoke before birth, how long before they develop asthma, even though there is no history in the family? My mother smoked throughout her pregnancy with me, and I was underweight and very premature, but am now forty three years old and still not in the best of health. Can it contribute to glaucoma as well? Tell me more about the hearing loss side-effect too. Though I tried hard to prevent my unborn son being exposed to smokers, I still believe he was exposed to it to some degree. He is now nearly three years old, and I am concerned that a relative might be exposing him to passive smoke, as he now has asthma. Can you help?

  2.  
    By Deb
    March 21, 2010
     

    Hi Lindy-Lou, I am no expert on the subject but they had some good information on the March of Dimes web site https://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1171.asp on the subject of passive smoke. It mentions the connection to asthma and many other problems. You may find it interesting.

  3.  
    By Dr. Leia
    March 22, 2010
     

    Second hand smoke has been linked to a myriad of different health problems similar to first hand smoke. In babies and children, low birth weight and reduced growth are the most observed health problems, along with lower respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis, asthma, SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome, and increased incidence of ear infections.

    Glaucoma can be congenital or secondary, congenital being present at birth, and secondary glaucoma occurring later in life from certain medications, especially corticosteriods used to treat eye inflammations, pigmentation breakdown in the iris, or cataracts which may cause lens swelling.

    It is definitely recommended to avoid second hand smoking in order to prevent any further health problems. You might want to check out alternative health care for your child’s asthma, check his diet for allergies, and definitely keep him away from smokers and other toxins and toxic fumes in his environment.

    Sometimes placing an air filter in the child’s bedroom at night may help with his breathing difficulties. Good luck in your endeavors.

  4.  
    By Heather
    January 28, 2011
     

    So if a mother smokes while pregnant and for the child’s first year, they are at higher risk of having acute lymphoblastic leukemia?

  5.  
    By Sandy
    January 30, 2011
     

    Smoking while pregnant and exposing children to second hand smoke always increases their risk of developing health issues.

  6.  
    By Deb
    May 11, 2011
     

    I listened to a very sad man the other day. He told me his wife had lung cancer and beat it. It later came back and she beat it back again. It now is in her brain. He was ready to cry as he explained that for the last two years she has fought the cancer so very hard. She never smoked. He did smoke heavily for twenty five years. The doctor told him her cancer was probably from the second hand smoke she inhaled daily. His wife is everything to him. He has left the business he built for years to take care of her. The guilt he feels each day she fights for her life is intense. He also worries about their children and their health over the years. He tells everyone he sees smoking to please stop.

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