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Stub It Out This October And Feel Healthier For Life

Stoptober is upon us and thousands of people around the UK are trying to quit cigarettes and alcohol for an entire month. First of all, well done to all taking part! Giving up something you love is not easy but you will feel better for it!

Stoptober is upon us and thousands of people around the UK are trying to quit cigarettes and alcohol for an entire month. First of all, well done to all taking part! Giving up something you love is not easy but you will feel better for it!

Smoking is one of the biggest cause of illness and death and accounts for more than 80,000 deaths in the UK each year.

These days, as public awareness of the dangers of smoking rises, you would imagine that not a single person in the whole world would still choose to smoke. Yet, a surprising number of us continue to remain prey to our addictions.

With one in two smokers dying from a smoking-related illness, it is more important than ever that we quit for good. And, the good news is that once you quit smoking your body can start to reverse many of the harmful effects cigarettes have had on your body.

Here are just some of the health risks you can prevent by stubbing it out!

Brain

Cigarettes contain a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in seconds and makes you feel energized, but as the effect wears off you feel tired and crave more. Addiction to nicotine is one of the top reasons people find it so hard to quit smoking. Physical withdrawal from nicotine can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated or depressed.

Aside from addiction, smoking also increases your risk of having a stroke by at least 50%. By smoking, your risk of dying from that stroke is double that of a non-smoker and as the frequency by which you smoke increases, this risk increases too. In addition, smoking also increases your risk of developing a brain aneurysm. This is a weakness in the wall of a blood vessel, forming a bulge which could potentially burst or rupture.

Circulation

When you smoke, over 600 toxins in cigarettes enter your bloodstream. These toxins make your blood thicker, causing you to feel sluggish and increases your chances of developing a clot (blockage) in a vessel. They also increase your blood pressure and heart rate, which puts more pressure on your heart to work harder.

Your narrowed arteries and overworked heart increase your chances of suffering a stroke or a heart attack, which have the potential to be fatal.

Your Lungs

Of all organs, it is perhaps your lungs that are most impacted by smoking. Over time, the toxins in cigarettes can damage the tissue of your lungs and cause long-term changes. Recurrent infections can potentially extend to a chronic, non-reversible disease called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the symptoms of which include breathlessness, coughing, phlegm and frequent chest infections.

The early signs of COPD are often dismissed as a mild cough, and people continue to smoke. But, this worsens the condition and can impact people's social life, leading them to feel miserable and isolated.

Withdrawal from cigarettes can cause temporary congestion and respiratory discomfort as your lungs and airways begin to heal. Increased mucus production right after quitting smoking is actually healthy, so try not to worry - it is a positive sign that your lungs are recovering.

Increased Risk of Developing Cancer

The most commonly discussed health risk associated with smoking is the increased chance of developing cancer. There are 250 known harmful chemicals and substances in tobacco, 69 of which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Though lung cancer is the most commonly reported type of cancer caused by smoking, it is not the only one. Smoking can also lead to cancers found in the kidneys, pancreas, and many more. Similarly, to the other health issues caused by smoking, the risk of developing an illness increases depending on how long the person has been smoking for, and how frequently they smoke.

Digestive System

Gum disease and a reduced sense of taste are par for the course if you are a smoker. Smoking increases your risk of mouth, throat, tongue and larynx cancer.

Smoking has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you'll develop insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain around your stomach. This can also increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The symptoms and physical effect of diabetes also tend to develop at an increased rate when compared to non-smokers.

Physical Appearance

As well as having an impact on your health and general well-being, smoking can also lead to external, physical changes to your body. Smoking can lead to bad breath and stained yellow teeth. The substances in tobacco can damage your skin and increase your chances of developing squamous cell skin cancer. Smoking can also have an effect on your finger and toenails, weakening and yellowing them and increasing your chances of developing a fungal nail condition. There can also be some impacts to the appearance of your hair, smoking causes it to thin out, turn prematurely grey, and can even leave you bald in patches.

Smoking is one of the hardest habits to beat, and hopefully, this article has provided you with some important information to remain cigarette-free this October, and hopefully for good!

Dr Seth Rankin is founder of London Doctors Clinic

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