There are a lot of good reasons to try to quit smoking. Aside from the obvious threat of lung cancer, smoking is associated with a number of other serious diseases, including pancreatic cancer, cardiovascular disease (including strokes, aneurysms, and CHF), COPD, Alzheimer’s Disease, and glaucoma — to name a few.
Smoke damages the lining of the blood vessels very much the way sugar does, thus setting you up for cardiovascular disease, as well as damage to small blood vessels (leading to poor circulation and damage to the eyes and kidneys).
Cigarette smoke contains a number of chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. Here’s a partial list:
- Benzene, also found in gasoline and a known carcinogen
- Polonium-210, which is radioactive and very toxic
- Vinyl Chloride, also used to make pipes
- Carbon monoxide, also found in car exhaust; it binds irreversibly with hemoglobin and prevents its binding oxygen
- Hydrogen cyanide, used in chemical weapons
- Butane, used in lighter fluid
- Ammonia, used in household cleaners
- Toluene, used in paint thinners
- Cadmium, used in cigarette batteries, known carcinogen
- Lead, once used in paint
- Arsenic, used in pesticides – and chicken!
Kicking the Smoking Habit
Okay, so you know you should quit. But how do you go about doing it?
Your PCP will recommend nicotine-containing products that might work for you, such as gum, e-cigarettes, lozenges, patches, nasal sprays, and even a few oral meds that help modulate nicotine cravings. Certainly try this, and if it works for you, great.
If not, one of the most effective treatments I know for smoking cessation is auricular acupuncture. This is especially effective in conjunction with a taper down schedule for cigarettes, replacing them with a botanical or homeopathic combination to curb cravings. And any withdrawal symptoms should also be minimized with a basic healthy diet: avoid sugar and processed foods, and get some good nutrition.
Also, consider using peer pressure to your advantage. If you publicly announce that you plan to quit, it will (at least for most people) motivate you to stick with it (if the horrific list of possible smoking-affiliated ailments isn’t enough!)
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