Why you should stop smoking now!

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Humans have been smoking for a while and it is not without ill effects. Smoking adversely affects all organs of the body and reduces the general quality of health.

According to the latest World Health Organisation estimates, tobacco eventually kills up to half of its users and kills nearly 6 million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are from direct tobacco use and more than 600 000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke.

That smoking is injurious to the body has been widely publicized but the message has been largely ignored. Smoking is not only harmful but highly addictive. A single stick of cigarette contains 4000 chemicals which are poisonous and some cause cancer.

The chemicals that are most harmful are:

  • Tar, a substance that causes cancer.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and causes physical and psychological dependency. It also increases cholesterol levels in your body.
  • Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing affected cells from carrying a full load of oxygen.
  • Components of the gas and particulate phases cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

Smoking causes the following cancers:

  • Lung cancer
  • Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cancer of the cervix
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cancer of the oral cavity (mouth)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cancer of the pharynx (throat)
  • Stomach cancer

Smoking is also associated with the following adverse health effects:

Cardiovascular diseases: Coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, stroke.

Smoking raises blood pressure, which can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) – a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.

Smoking can cause fertility problems. Smoking also increases the risk of preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Smoking worsens asthma and counteracts asthma medication by worsening the inflammation of the airways that the medicine tries to reduce.

Smoking can damage the blood vessels in the eye, causing a bloodshot appearance and itchiness.

Smoking increases the risk of gradual loss of eyesight and cataracts.

Smoking stains your teeth and gums.

Smoking increases your risk of oral disease, which causes swollen gums, bad breath and teeth to fall out.

Smoking causes an acid taste in the mouth and contributes to the development of ulcers.

Smoking causes pale skin and more wrinkles. This is because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers levels of vitamin A.

There is hardly any benefit to smoking and it has a lot of harmful effects. It is better not to start smoking for the sake of one’s health because stopping can be difficult.

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Germs are good for you

Germs or microbes are the tiny organisms that  cause disease and make us sick. Diseases like pneumonia, urinary tract infection, food poisoning are all caused by germs. In fact the above diseases are associated with poor hygiene.

How then can germs be good for you?
     For starters, the whole of our body surface is covered with germs. The whole of our digestive tract from mouth to anus too. This set of germs have a natural mutually beneficial relationship with the human body. For example the germs in the intestine produce vitamin K necessary for blood clotting. The ones on the skin prevent more dangerous germs from thriving on the skin and causing infection.
      Very importantly the good germs play an important role in the development of our natural immunity during childhood. They stimulate the body to produce antibodies which fight off infections. Various studies have shown that children that were not exposed to these germs during childhood have a higher incidence of allergic diseases like asthma later in life.
      There is however a delicate balance between good and bad germs and things like indiscriminate antibiotics and medicated soap use tilt the balance in favour of the bad germs.

What should we learn from all these?
Not all germs are bad.
It’s okay to let children get a little dirty (for their long term health).
We should avoid unnecessary antibiotics which also kill the good germs.
We should avoid bathing with medicated soaps every time as this also kills good germs on the skin. (It’s okay every now and then)

It should be noted that there are instances where the good germs can be harmful for example when they cross to parts of the body which they don’t normally inhabit and also in persons with low immunity.

Those tiny little germs can be our friends after all.

Feel free to use the comments section to share your thoughts.