Tobacco-free month - All about smoking-related diseases 

Dec 6th, 2019, by Labtoo's team

The composition of cigarettes

Once made up only of paper and tobacco, today more than 7,000 different substances are present in cigarette smoke, more than 60 of which are listed as carcinogens by the IARC (International Committee for Research against Cancer). Among these elements, we find nicotine, naturally present in tobacco, this molecule is responsible for cigarette addiction by acting directly on the nervous system. However, the real danger associated with smoking is not due to nicotine, it is the other products released by cigarette smoke that cause health problems. Indeed, irritating substances such as acetone and hydrocyanic acid, or tars formed during the combustion of tobacco, are the main causes of tobacco-related cancers. The origin of these substances is both natural and artificial. Some of it comes directly from pesticides and other products used in tobacco growing. The other part is added by producers to promote nicotine fixation and increase smokers' dependence.


Complications related to smoking

Cancer is the leading cause of death in France and tobacco is the leading cause of death due to cancer. Smoking is responsible for 82% of lung cancers and 67% of cancers of the aerodigestive tract. This is due in particular to the presence of tars, which settle throughout the respiratory tract until they reach other organs such as the pancreas or the bladder, causing cancers of the lungs and throat. Although research on lung cancer is very active and has led to a lot of progress in recent years, there is no standard cure for this type of disease that requires surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other heavy treatments. Smoking also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of its effects on oxygenation, tobacco hardens the arteries, increases blood pressure and heart work and is thus responsible for heart attacks, aneurysms and strokes.


Alternatives to cigarettes

Fortunately, there are many types of nicotine substitutions. These diffuse nicotine on a regular basis, unlike cigarettes. Their goal is, with a controlled dose of nicotine, to reduce dependence on this substance while preventing the inhalation of harmful products found in cigarettes. There are two types: those that are taken orally (inhalers, tablets, gums...) and those that are applied to the skin (patches). These substitutes double the chances of total cessation of smoking but obviously do not eliminate psychological or behavioural dependence. The electronic cigarette can also be a great help in quitting smoking. However, although it is considered less harmful than cigarettes, it should not be forgotten that e-cigarettes also have harmful health effects, especially since they are not well evaluated by research due to the lack of perspective on this recent form of smoking.


An update on your health after this month without tobacco

The beneficial effects of quitting smoking are felt almost immediately, since as soon as 8 hours after the last cigarette, your body's oxygenation returns to normal. After 24 hours, the risk of heart attack already decreases and after 48 hours the gustatory nerve endings begin to grow back. Finally, one year after your last cigarette, the risk of heart attack is halved and the risk of stroke is similar to that of a non-smoker. The risk of lung cancer is halved after 5 years without smoking and after 10 to 15 years, your life expectancy is the same as that of people who have never smoked.

Then it's never too late to stop!