Tag Archives: cigarette smoking

Keep Your Lungs Healthy!

Your lungs are complex organs, but what they do is take a gas that your body needs to get rid of (carbon dioxide) and exchange it for a gas that your body can use (oxygen).

In this edition of How Stuff Works, we will take a close look at how your lungs work and how they keep your body’s cells supplied with oxygen and get rid of the carbon dioxide waste.

We will explain some of the conditions and diseases that make breathing harder and cause the lungs to fail.

We will also explain why you can’t hold your breath for a long time and why you cough or hiccup.

To learn more, visit > How Stuff Works: Lungs

Smoker’s Lung Pathology

Picture of LungsCigarette smoking is associated with a wide variety of abnormalities throughout the body that cause not only illness, but also, all too often, death.

Indeed, if all deaths from diseases related to smoking (lung disease, heart disease, and cancers of many different organs) were considered, a case could be made for cigarette smoking as the leading cause of death in industrialized countries.

Ironically, it is also the most preventable cause of death in our society!

Updated Lung reports

They’ve been minimized and they’ve been marginalized, but the fact is holistic therapies–including acupuncture, homeopathy, massage therapy, aromatherapy, yoga, nutrition therapy, and dozens more–have been gaining greater mainstream acceptance.

According to a 1993 survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in 1991, about 21 million Americans made 425 million visits to practitioners of these types of alternative medicine; that’s more than the estimated 388 million visits we made to all primary care physicians that year.

Now a holistic approach where an individual’s situation and particular way of coping is addressed–and going cold turkey may not be necessary–is slowly beginning to influence the way people with addictions are treated. Holistic therapies are helping to bridge the gap between conventional, exclusively abstinence-oriented approaches and the newer, more controversial harm-reduction philosophy.

When addressing an addiction, all holistic techniques begin with the same basic philosophy: people develop addictions to correct an “imbalance” within them. Addicts become stuck, unaware, and unable to deal with their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

They may drink, take drugs, or eat to excess to disassociate from their deficiency. Holistic therapies work to restore balance by connecting mind and body. They take away some of the underlying causes of abuse by helping people become aware of and take responsibility for the way they think, feel, and act.

The Harmful Effects of Smoking on Different Parts of the Body

Cigarette smoking is always unsafe.

Men who smoke 20 cigarette per day take twice as many days off work each year than nonsmokers.

Of men now age 35, the proportion that will die before reaching retiring age is 40% for heavy smokers, but only 18% for non-smokers.

Smoking causes more than 400, 000 deaths a year in America all alone. Below in this article we will tell you the parts of the body affected by smoking.

Women are at an additional risk, as their unborn babies can be damaged by smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of cervical cancer.

Picture of Smoker

Mouth and throat: Tobacco smoke can cause gum disease and tooth decay. The teeth become yellow or black.

Esophagus: The tars in smoke can trigger cancer.

Brain: Headaches are common. Lack of oxygen and narrowing of blood-vessels can lead to strokes.

Bronchi: Smoke contains hydrogen cyanide and other chemicals, which attack the lining of the bronchi, inflaming them and increasing susceptibility to bronchitis.

Lungs: People who inhale smoke are ten times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers. Mucus secretion is increased, causing chronic catarrh and smoker’s cough.

Circulation: Nicotine raises blood-pressure. Carbon monoxide leads to development of cholesterol deposits in artery walls, causing heart attacks and strokes. Loss of circulation in limbs can cause amputation.

Heart: Nicotine in cigarette smoke makes the heart beat faster and so it works hard. Blood clot more easily, increasing the risk of heart attack. Carbon monoxide robs the blood of oxygen, again increasing the risk of heart attack.

Intestine: Smoking can cause diarrhea and ulcers also.

Stomach: Increased acid secretion can lead to ulcers.

Bladder: Excreted carcinogens can cause cancer.

Source: Health Section, Khalsa News Network

Cigarette Smoking and Its Impact on Spinal Fusions

Learn About the Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking

According to the American Cancer Society, “48 million adults (25.7 million men and 22.3 million women) were current smokers in the United States in 1997.”

Many of these adult smokers started during their teenage years. Unfortunately, even today people still begin to smoke cigarettes despite published statistics that show its negative impact on health.

The adverse effects of smoking include nicotine addiction, an increased risk of lung and other types of cancer, higher rates of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease, as well as decreased life expectancy.

Cigarettes contain dried tobacco leaves and flavorings, which include more than 4,000 chemicals. Some of these substances are harmless until burned and breathed.

The Spine and Cigarette Smoking

Picture of SpineBone is a living tissue dependent on the functions and support provided by the other body systems. When these systems are not able to perform normally, bone is unable to rebuild itself. The formation of bone is particularly influenced by physical exercise and hormonal activity, both of which are adversely affected by cigarette smoking.

Many smokers have less physical endurance than nonsmokers, mainly due to decreased lung function. Cigarette smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and increases the level of harmful substances, such as carbon monoxide. This, combined with the effects of smoking on the heart and blood vessels, can limit the benefits from physical activity.

In men and women, cigarette smoking is known to influence hormone function. Smoking increases estrogen loss in women who are perimenopausal or postmenopausal. This can result in a loss of bone density and lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to lose strength, becoming more fragile. This silent disease is responsible for many spine and hip fractures in the United States.

Spinal Fusion and Cigarette Smoking

Defined Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to join bony segments of the spine (e.g. vertebrae). In order for the fusion to heal, new bone growth must occur, bridging between the spinal segments. Sometimes fusion is combined with another surgical technique termed spinal instrumentation. Instrumentation consists of different types of medically designed hardware such as rods, hooks, wires, and screws that are attached to the spine. These devices provide immediate stability and hold the spine in proper position while the fusion heals.

Spinal fusion (also termed arthrodesis) can be performed at the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar levels of the spine. It takes months to heal. Your doctor may order post-operative radiographs (x-rays) to monitor the progress of this healing.

The long-term success of many types of spinal surgery is dependent upon successful spinal fusion. In fact, if the fusion does not heal, spinal surgery may have to be repeated. A failed fusion is termed a nonunion or pseudoarthrosis. Spinal instrumentation, although very strong, may even break if nonunion occurs. Needless to say, spine surgeons try to minimize the risk of this happening.

Cigarette Smoking and Failed Fusion

Certain factors have been found to affect the success of spinal fusion. Some of these factors include the patient’s age, underlying medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, osteoporosis), and cigarette smoking. There is growing evidence that cigarette smoking adversely affects fusion. Smoking disrupts the normal function of basic body systems that contribute to bone formation and growth. As mentioned previously, new bone growth is necessary for a fusion to heal.

Research has demonstrated that habitual cigarette smoking leads to the breakdown of the spine to such a degree that fusion is often less successful when compared to similar procedures performed on non-smokers. In a study of patients undergoing anterior cervical fusion (fusion of the neck), it was observed that smokers had an increased rate of nonunion (up to 47%) as compared to non-smokers.1

Another study evaluated tobacco use in patients who underwent lumbar (low back) fusion. The patients who smoked had failed fusions in up to 40% of cases, compared to only 8% among non-smokers.2 Similar findings have been reported in other studies as well.

Post-Operative Infection

Cigarette smoking compromises the immune system and the body’s other defense mechanisms, which can increase the patient’s susceptibility to post-operative infection. A study conducted by Thalgott et al showed that cigarette smoking was a risk factor for infection following spinal fusion.3

Conclusion

Clearly, cigarette smoking is detrimental to spinal fusion. People who are facing fusion or any spinal surgery should make every effort to stop smoking. Quitting the habit beforehand will decrease the associated risks and increase the likelihood of a successful spinal fusion surgery.

Your physician recognizes the importance of smoking cessation and can provide information about available treatment options.

References

1. An HS, Simpson JM, Glover JM, Stephany J. Comparison between allograft plus demineralized bone matrix versus autograft in anterior cervical fusion. A prospective multicenter study. Spine 1995; 20: 2211-16.

2. Brown CW, Orme TJ, Richardson HD. The rate of pseudarthrosis (surgical nonunion) in patients who are smokers and patients who are nonsmokers: a comparison study. Spine 1986; 9: 942-3

3. Thalgott JS, Cotler HB, Sasso RC, LaRocca H, Gardner V. Postoperative infections in spinal implants. Classification and analysis — a multicenter study. Spine 1991: 8: 981-4.
Original Source: Larry Davidson, M.D. Spine Universe, Memphis, TN, USA 07/28/2006

Why Doesn’t Every Smoker Get Emphysema?

Researchers Say It Takes Genes, Viruses and Cigarettes

Physicians say that smoking is by far the biggest cause of emphysema, but why doesn’t every smoker get the disease? If you asked Michael Holtzman, M.D., that question, he might answer that for most cases of emphysema you need a mix of genes, viruses and cigarettes.

Emphysema and the associated condition of chronic bronchitis are both disorders that contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Research by Holtzman and his colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that someone destined to suffer from COPD may start with a susceptible genetic makeup and then experience a severe viral lung infection in early childhood.

Young Woman Picture The infection could “reprogram” the cells of the lung’s air passages and sacs, and the reprogrammed cells could react badly if the same person took up cigarette smoking, leading to COPD some time down the road.

“Cigarette smoking has created a very large population of COPD patients worldwide,” he says. “At present, we can treat them with steroids to reduce inflammation, antibiotics to suppress infections, and oxygen to help their breathlessness, but the disease will still progress until it’s fatal. We need to find treatments that stop the disease progression and to do that we need a much better understanding of how COPD develops.”

Now Holtzman and his colleagues at the School of Medicine have obtained funds from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $14.9 million to establish a Specialized Center for Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR), an ambitious type of grant program meant to foster research that can quickly apply basic science findings to clinical problems.

Holtzman’s SCCOR program will take a comprehensive look at the molecular changes that occur as lungs become crippled by COPD, a disease that affects at least 16 million people in the United States today.

Lungs have a tree-like structure of intricately branching airways ending in tiny sacs or alveoli, which exchange gases between the blood and the air. In chronic bronchitis, airways overproduce mucus and become inflamed, obstructing airflow. In emphysema, alveoli are destroyed so they can no longer take up oxygen from the air. COPD patients can have both problems at once, and Holtzman and his colleagues are studying both issues.

Researchers will use newly developed imaging techniques, such as helium MRI, to look at the tissue of lungs removed from COPD patients undergoing lung transplants and home in on the tiny lung structures that are injured. “Then, if we find that a particular gene is overactive at a site where the disease is particularly severe, we’ll analyze the normal and abnormal function of that specific gene,” Holtzman says.

Holtzman notes that so far no other researchers have done this because it takes a combination of new imaging techniques, advanced gene analysis technologies and a highly active lung transplant program, all of which are on hand at the School of Medicine.

COPD Facts

  • COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the US and the 2nd leading cause of disability
  • COPD kills more than 120,000 Americans each year. That’s one death every 4 minutes
  • More than 12 million people are diagnosed with COPD
  • An additional 12 million likely have COPD and don’t even know it

For more information go to learnaboutcopd.org.

Source: Consumer Affairs Original Publication Date: January 22, 2007