The toxins in cigarettes[i]
You know that cigarettes cause cancer, right? But do you know that there are dozens of toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke, most of them added? Why are they added, you ask? I can’t say for sure, but the reasons probably include shelf life, evenness of burning, taste, and (to be cynical) to help absorption of nicotine.
acetone - A flammable, colorless liquid used as a solvent. It's one of the active ingredients in nail polish remover. The tobacco industry refuses to say how acetone gets into cigarettes.
ammonia - A colorless, pungent gas. The tobacco industry says that it adds flavor, but scientists have discovered that ammonia helps you absorb more nicotine - keeping you hooked on smoking.
arsenic - A silvery-white very poisonous chemical element. This deadly poison is used to make insecticides, and it is also used to kill gophers and rats.
benzene - A flammable liquid obtained from coal tar and used as a solvent. This cancer-causing chemical is used to make everything from pesticides to detergent to gasoline.
benzoapyrene - A yellow crystalline carcinogenic hydrocarbon found in coal tar and cigarette smoke. It's one of the most potent cancer-causing chemicals in the world.
butane - A hydrocarbon used as a fuel. Highly flammable butane is one of the key ingredients in gasoline.
Cadmium - A metallic chemical element used in alloys. This toxic metal causes damage to the liver, kidneys, and the brain; and stays in your body for years.
formaldehyde - A colorless pungent gas used in solution as a disinfectant and preservative. It causes cancer; damages your lungs, skin and digestive system. Embalmers use it to preserve dead bodies.
lead - A heavy bluish-gray metallic chemical element. This toxic heavy metal causes lead poisoning, which stunts your growth, and damages your brain. It can easily kill you.
propylene Glycol - A sweet hygroscopic viscous liquid used as antifreeze and as a solvent in brake fluid. The tobacco industry claims they add it to keep cheap "reconstituted tobacco" from drying out, but scientists say it aids in the delivery of nicotine (tobaccos active drug) to the brain.
turpentine - A colorless volatile oil. Turpentine is very toxic and is commonly used as a paint thinner.
If you are a smoker, you inhale these into your lungs with each breath! That’s really bad for you.
But I’m not trying to scare you. You already knew this, right?
The good news
I’ve heard it said that “nicotine is the most addictive substance there is.” If that’s true, then quitting cigarettes would be pretty hopeless. But thousands quit, successfully, every day. So how can this be?
I think the meaning of “most addictive” here is that it’s really easy to get hooked on tobacco – for some people, just one cigarette and they’re a smoker. But in terms of ease of quitting, there are drugs much more addictive than nicotine. Heroin, for one (and other opiates), and cocaine and methamphetamine are up there too.
Once you stop smoking, your body begins to recover almost immediately, and your recovery is ongoing and, over time, very thorough
Within 20 minutes of the last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal (normal for you) and your hands and feet warm up to normal
Within 8 hours, your blood oxygen level increases and the level of carbon monoxide decreases, to normal.
In 24 hours, your chance of having a heart attack decreases. (Even if you are relatively young, as a smoker you are at higher risk than a non-smoker.)
Within 72 hours your bronchial tubes relax and your lung capacity increases – you breathe easier, have more energy, and feel better. Your lung function continues to improve, up to 30% between 2 to 13 weeks.
Between 1 and 9 months, the celia re-grow – these are the little hairs in the lungs that clear out mucous and foreign objects, so that your lungs become more resilient. You notice a decrease in coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
After 5 years, your chance of getting lung cancer has decreased by almost 50%, and in 10 years, the chance of getting lung (and other) cancer has been reduced to a level only slightly above that of someone who has never smoked. Healthy cells replace pre-cancerous cells.
Quit smoking Bethesda!
So, wouldn’t you say it’s time? Just a few miles to your north lies my Kensington office. (You can consider Kensington North North Bethesda.) Give me a call, come on up, and let’s knock this out! (Or we can work over Zoom, which is just as effective as in-person, and you don’t have to leave your home.)
Are you ready? I am ready!
[i] “The Toxins in Cigarettes” by Ron Harder http://www.selfimprovement.ch/web/taxonomy/term/2299/all