5 More Reasons Not To Smoke

Lit Cigarette
Cigarette smoke is dangerous to your health. Credit: Kartik Jasti Photography/Moment/Getty Images

5 More Reasons Not To Smoke

With the prevalence of anti-smoking campaigns, one would think that smoking wouldn't still be a health issue across the world. There are any number of reasons not to smoke. Smoking can cause cancer and a host of other smoking-related diseases. It can result in adverse changes in physical appearance and harm others through second-hand smoke. Sorting through all of the reasons not to smoke can be quite a task as there are so many.

From a biological perspective, here are 5 more good reasons not to smoke or to stop smoking.

1. Smoking Alters Genes

A study in the journal BMC Medical Genomics indicates that smoking influences gene expression. By analyzing white blood cells of smokers, 323 distinct genes were identified that are specifically related to smoking. The changes in gene expression caused by smoking has an adverse effect on the immune system. Smoking altered genes also influence other processes such as cell death and cancer formation. Gene changes mean alterations in DNA which codes for the production of specific proteins. Due to this change in the genetic code, proteins that are normally made in non-smoke influenced cells are not produced in smoke influenced cells.

2. Cigarette Smoke Changes the Shape of the Heart

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have found evidence that cigarette smoke could actually cause the heart to change shape.

It was discovered in animal studies that exposure to cigarette smoke causes the release of certain enzymes responsible for cell growth in heart muscle. These enzymes, along with increased levels of the hormone norepinephrine, are thought to be responsible for altering the shape of the left ventricle.

Smoke induced enzyme production is considered to be the major cause of cigarette smoke-induced heart injury.

3. Smokers Are More Likely to Lose Their Teeth

A study published in the Journal of Dental Research indicates that smokers are at a higher risk for losing their teeth than non-smokers. According to the study, smoking can mask symptoms of gum disease, such as gum bleeding. This causes problems to go undetected until the disease reaches an advanced stage resulting in tooth loss. It was also revealed that younger smokers are more likely to lose their teeth from smoking than older smokers.

4. Smoking Is Linked to Weight Gain

Contrary to the myth that smoking makes you thinner, a University of Navarra study links smoking to weight gain. Being overweight and nicotine addiction are two high risk factors for poor cardiovascular health. The results of this four year investigation showed that active smokers and those who quit smoking gain more weight than non-smokers. Participant age, sex, initial body mass index and lifestyles were all factors considered in the analysis of the data. The study also revealed a link between weight gain in ex-smokers and the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

The more cigarettes previously smoked a day, the higher the weight gain. The researchers also noted that some smokers listed weight gain as a reason for not quitting. Although weight gain does happen, the researchers state that there are "notable variations in weight gain." Kicking the smoking habit is more beneficial overall as it reduces the risk of cardiovascular illnesses and other harmful diseases.

5. Hundreds of Bacteria Found in Cigarettes

According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers have discovered that cigarettes contain a number of different types of bacteria. In the study, four different cigarette brands were tested and found to contain hundreds of bacteria species ranging from soil bacteria to bacteria that cause food poisoning and other diseases in humans.

Lead researcher Amy Sapkota states, "If these organisms can survive the smoking process, and we believe they can, then they could possibly go on to contribute to both infectious and chronic illnesses in both smokers and individuals who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke." The next step in the research process is to determine if these bacteria can in fact survive the smoking process and cause or contribute to human diseases.

Sources:

  • Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. "Smoking influences gene function, scientists say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2010. (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713165057.htm).
  • University of Illinois at Chicago. "Cigarette Smoke Could Alter Shape Of Heart." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2008. (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113181432.htm).
  • University of Birmingham. "Smokers at higher risk of losing their teeth, research shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2015. (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150914102806.htm).
  • FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Non-smokers put on less weight, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2010. (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422102941.htm).
  • Amy R. Sapkota, Sibel Berger, and Timothy M. Vogel. Human Pathogens Abundant in the Bacterial Metagenome of Cigarettes. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.0901201
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Bailey, Regina. "5 More Reasons Not To Smoke." ThoughtCo, Oct. 6, 2015, thoughtco.com/more-reasons-not-to-smoke-373592. Bailey, Regina. (2015, October 6). 5 More Reasons Not To Smoke. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/more-reasons-not-to-smoke-373592 Bailey, Regina. "5 More Reasons Not To Smoke." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/more-reasons-not-to-smoke-373592 (accessed December 12, 2017).