Are all forms of smoking bad?

Smoking

By pH health care professionals

You’ve heard said it before: Smoking is bad for your health. But usually, when we talk about smoking, the conversation centers around cigarettes. But are all forms of smoking harmful? Science points toward a resounding yes. No form of smoking is completely “safe” or “risk-free.” Even new forms of smoking like e-cigarettes can pose risks, especially because they have yet to be regulated the same way cigarettes are, so it isn’t always clear what chemicals are in them or how much.

According to the European Society of Cardiology, all forms of smoking are bad for the heart.

“Smoking of all types is still, without any competition, the strongest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It beats everything,” said ESC prevention spokesperson Professor Joep Perk in May of last year. “There has been a lot of research over the past two to three years, which makes it very clear that all tobacco use, including the waterpipe, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes, is simply not good for your health.”

Be proactive and understand the health risks associated with smoking, whether it’s tobacco, e-cigarettes or marijuana, and share this information with people who could benefit from it.

Tobacco

Tobacco smoke is harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers around them. Breathing in just a little bit of smoke can be harmful, the National Cancer Institute says. What’s more, of the 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful (such as hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and ammonia) and 69 can cause cancer, the institute says.

Chemicals found in lighter fluid, rocket fuel, insecticide and batteries can also be found in a cigarette.

E-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are popular, but have “largely unknown public and individual health effects,” the American Lung Association says. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes, and so there are no safety checks or requirements for what can go in them. There are hundreds of different brands and thousands of flavors, so there’s no way for consumers or health care professionals to know what chemicals they are dealing with and what the short- and long-term health effects will be.

However, the American Lung Association warns that early studies show e-cigarettes contain nicotine (addictive) and other harmful chemicals, including carcinogens (cancer-causing). And they’re not the only ones worried about the consequences of “vaping” e-cigarettes. The FDA in 2009 issued a press release, discouraging the use of e-cigarettes, warning about carcinogens and an ingredient used in antifreeze (diethylene glycol). In 2010, the agency issued warning letters to certain e-cigarette companies for their poor manufacturing practices and unsubstantiated health claims.

While some proponents have vouched for their effectiveness in helping them quit cigarettes, or to at least switch to e-cigarettes, the FDA has come down on companies for claiming the products could help people quit smoking or that they were “safer” than cigarettes.

There are also concerns from the FDA, CDC and others that e-cigarettes are opening the doors to a whole new generation of smokers. E-cigarettes often have enticing flavors and are readily available in many shopping malls.

Marijuana

Marijuana smoke contains higher levels of several toxic compounds (such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide) than tobacco smoke, research shows, and therefore, may pose some of the same health risks as cigarettes. Marijuana smoke also irritates the lungs.

Additionally, studies have shown that marijuana can interfere with memory, learning and impulse control in teens whose brains are still developing.

Be proactive

Understand the health risks associated with all types of smoking, and talk to a health care professional if you need help quitting or making any other healthy changes in your life.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.

 

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