How many times this year did you decide that you will give up on that smoking habit of yours? And did you happen to make similar resolutions last year and the year before that too?
But somehow, it doesn’t seem to take place, even though you know that it will do your health a world of good.
There are around 120 million smokers in India and they comprise 12% of smokers in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Globally in 2015, over 11% of 6.4 million deaths were due to smoking, according to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study published in the medical journal The Lancet.
So on the occasion of the National No Smoking Day this year, we give you solid reasons to kick the butt, and how exactly it is going to help you.
1. Cutting down on risk of skin diseases
People assume they know how smoking can affect their body, but many a time they don’t know all the ways in which it can negatively impact your body. One such aspect is the skin.
“Nicotine reduces blood flow to the lower layer of skin, or dermis, which results in less oxygen being delivered. This can lead to the deterioration of the quality of cell production and can also trigger chronic diseases like psoriasis,” says Dr Abir Saraswat, national coordinator, Special Interest Group – Psoriasis, Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL).
“Quitting smoking increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients sent to skin cells, reducing the risk of skin diseases and improving symptoms,” he said.
Smokers also have significantly accelerated skin ageing. Wrinkling and sagging of skin occurs at an earlier age and is more severe in smokers compared to non-smokers.
2. Healthier lungs
Research says that harm caused to the lungs by breathing polluted air even for one day is equivalent to smoking many cigarettes. On top of it, if you smoke, it is similar to pouring kerosene on a burning house. This is misuse of intellect or Pragyaparadh as it is known in Ayurveda.
“Our lungs are very important because they carry Praan Vayu (life-giving air) and keep us alive. We must keep them healthy. Including simple herbs like ginger, yastimadhu and turmeric is helpful in maintaining good health of the lungs and respiratory system. Chyawanprasha is also beneficial. Ayurveda detoxifies and rejuvenates the lungs and the respiratory system with a combination of panchakarma therapies, rasayana treatment and yoga. To prevent smokers from relapsing into addiction, we give counselling and lifestyle guidance to replace the craving for nicotine with a desire to lead a healthy life,” says Dr Partap Chauhan, director, Jiva Ayurveda.
3. Decreased risk of heart related problems
According to Dr Ambuj Roy, professor of cardiology, AIIMS, New Delhi, smoking tobacco is the single most preventable cause for heart diseases.
“In India, over one million deaths occur due to tobacco consumption, the most common being those related to heart ailments. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of heart failure, a progressive disease in which the heart fails to efficiently pump blood across the body, leading other organs to be devoid of oxygen and vital nutrients. Heart diseases are preventable if we manage the risk factors early and adequately. This includes optimum management of lifestyle factors — smoking, alcohol consumption, stress and drug abuse.”
4. Lowering risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration
Smoking is a risk factor in the development of retinal diseases like Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). A key reason behind the growing incidence of DME amongst youngsters is believed to be an unhealthy lifestyle.
But how does smoking cause these problems?
Dr Ajay I Dudani, ophthalmologist and eye and vitreoretinal surgeon, Bombay Hospital & CEO of Mumbai Retina Centre, explains, “Research has revealed that smoking doubles the risk of AMD. It directly damages the eye by reducing the amount of oxygen available in the bloodstream of the eyes. This results in oxidative stress which can lead to retina damage or even cause cell death in that region. It is advisable that the patients-at-risk consult a doctor for a cessation programme to quit smoking.”
5. Getting back your virility
The number of cases of erectile dysfunction, commonly referred to as sexual impotence, in India has risen considerably during the last few years.
“This is because of sedentary lifestyles, smoking, drinking and stress can have an adverse effect on the body,” says Dr Anil Mandhani, chairman, urology and andrology, kidney and urology institute at Medanta – The Medicity.
“Smoking damages the blood vessels tampering with the flow of blood into the penis, thereby causing erectile dysfunction. The blockage in blood vessels further takes a toll on virility. While it takes time for the body to heal post quitting, adequate exercise and a healthy diet can help accelerate improvement in virility,” explains Dr Mandhani.
6. Stronger bones
This is one ill effect which is overlooked by most smokers, since heart/lung diseases and erectile dysfunction are the disadvantages most talked about.
“Every time you pass tobacco and blow smoke, it can fade the minerals from your bones. In effect, it is scientifically believed that smoking suppresses the activity of the cells in the body which helps to deposit minerals like calcium in the bone. In addition, it also excites the cells, which take minerals from the bones,” says Dr SKS Marya, chairman Bone and Joint Institute at Medanta – The Medicity.
“This dual action effectively produces the negative balance for the minerals which constitutes the bony structure. By quitting or limiting tobacco intake, smokers can reduce their chances to develop osteoporosis and bone fracture, plus women smokers can also delay early menopause,” explains Dr Marya.
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