How do Smoking and Drinking Harm Your Health

icon-blog By -Dr. Kanika Sharma
icon-blog By -December 14, 2023
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How do Smoking and Drinking Harm Your Health

Tobacco use and drinking alcohol pose big global challenges across health, society, environment, and the economy. Annually, more than 7 million individuals worldwide succumb to tobacco-related causes, with over 80% of fatalities occurring in low or middle income nations. On average, tobacco users lose 15 years of life and up to 50% of them die due to tobacco-related ailments like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lung disorders. The health issues stemming from smoking and drinking also contribute to poverty by escalating healthcare expenses for individuals and families. 

Moreover, tobacco waste harbors over 7000 harmful chemicals, including cancer causing agents, while tobacco smoke discharges thousands of tons of cancer causing chemicals, toxins, and greenhouse gasses into the environment. Additionally, tobacco use imposes a substantial global economic burden, with smoking-related costs estimated at US $1400 billion or 1.8% of the global GDP.

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to a diverse array of health, social, and legal complications. In 2012, around 3.3 million deaths, accounting for 5.9% of global deaths, were attributed to alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is associated with an elevated risk of over 200 diseases and injuries, contributing to mental and behavioral disorders, alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, as well as injuries from violence and traffic accidents.
Since these two behaviors, particularly in combination, dramatically increase the risk of cancer in esophagus. Therefore, appropriate and timely actions are necessary to stop their detrimental health effects. This article will provide you an insight to the detrimental effects of these two habits on your health. 

What Risks Smoking and Drinking Poses for You?

Smoking and drinking when done very frequently and regularly can cause serious health complications in your body. These two habits which are high-risk lifestyle factors and extremely harmful to health. Indeed you name a disease and these two behaviors will be the causative factors associated with that disease. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the health hazards caused by them as it will help motivate you to quit. Otherwise, your information can help your loved ones to stay away from these health monsters. These health hazards are:

1. High Blood Pressure

Engaging in excessive drinking and smoking heightens the susceptibility to high blood pressure risks. This condition, if left unaddressed, can elevate the chances of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, untreated high blood pressure may lead to cognitive heart failure, kidney damage, heart attack, stroke, and vision loss.

2. Erectile Dysfunction

Achieving an erection relies on a consistent blood flow to the penis. Erectile dysfunction occurs when this blood flow is interrupted. Excessive alcohol consumption and regular smoking can contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction.

3. Wrinkles on the Skin

The detrimental effects of smoking extend to every part of the body. Nicotine and other harmful substances in cigarettes have the potential to harm the collagen and elastin in the skin, contributing to development of premature wrinkles. Premature wrinkling can manifest on various body parts, including the face and arms.

4. Emphysema

Emphysema is a condition where the lungs lose their elasticity, making it challenging for an individual to breathe. Lungs, ideally, should be pliable to allow for proper breathing. However, the persistent damage from regular smoking hampers the elasticity of the lungs, leading to emphysema. This condition results in difficulty breathing even with minimal exertion. Research indicates that a significant proportion of emphysema cases are attributed to smoking.

5. Impact on the Digestive System

Regular smokers face increased risks of developing cancers in the mouth, larynx, esophagus, throat, and pancreas. Those who smoke without inhaling also face heightened risks of mouth cancer. Additionally, smoking can elevate insulin resistance, making individuals more prone to developing type 2 diabetes.

6. Lung Cancer

The association between smoking and cancer is a well-established fact, emphasized by the warning on cigarette packages and public awareness campaigns. Smoking, both actively and passively (through inhaling smoke from others), stands as a primary risk factor for lung cancer. Residual smoke from cigarettes can linger in a room for hours, persisting even after the smoker has left.

7. Liver Cirrhosis

The liver, a vital organ responsible for bile production, plays a crucial role in fat breakdown and blood purification. Prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption can inflict severe damage on the liver, eventually leading to liver cirrhosis. This condition gradually deteriorates liver quality, causing malfunction due to chronic injury.

8. High Cholesterol

Cholesterol, naturally produced in the liver for hormone and cell production, faces disruption with increased alcohol consumption. This can result in the formation of arterial plaques, obstructing blood flow to the heart. Smoking further compounds the issue by damaging blood vessel walls and lowering levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and more.

9. Respiratory System

In addition to emphysema and lung cancer, smoking can adversely affect the respiratory system, contributing to diseases like chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma. Withdrawal from smoking can induce temporary congestion, coughing, wheezing, and respiratory discomfort.

10. Impact on the Central Nervous System

The nicotine present in cigarettes affects the brain, initially providing a sense of energy followed by fatigue and cravings. Nicotine plays a pivotal role in the challenges faced by individuals attempting to quit smoking. Withdrawal symptoms involve impaired cognitive function, anxiety, irritation, and depression.

What is the Action of Smoking and Drinking Inside Your Body?

Several studies show a high association of tobacco smoking to various devastating illnesses including coronary artery disease, cancers in various organs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and poor reproductive health. According to research, inhaled tobacco smoke enormously increases the count of free radicals in the body, causing an increased oxidative stress. This increased stress leads to impaired vessel health, clotting mechanism, and disease-fighting mechanism. It also causes large-scale cell damage, causing inflammation. This results in development of diseases like coronary artery disease. 

Alcohol significantly contributes to the advancement of various diseases. Moreover, disorders related to alcohol consumption are frequently linked to additional manifestations. For instance, individuals with alcoholic neuropathy often experience nutritional deficiencies. Recent research has conclusively demonstrated the association between alcoholism and numerous health diseases like cancer, prompting researchers worldwide to investigate more about this connection. Alcohol is known to put ver detrimental effects on liver, central nervous system, heart & vessels, and almost all the major organs. Alcohol barely leaves any system inside the body untouched, with manifestations spanning from single cell to complex organ system.

How Drinking and Smoking is Injurious to Health?

Combining alcohol and tobacco poses an even greater risk, given the individual hazards associated with each substance. However, due to the various risk factors involved in these conditions, determining the exact impact of combining smoking and drinking can be challenging.

One well-established area of concern is the heightened risk of mouth and throat cancers. Both smoking and drinking independently increase the likelihood of these conditions, and research indicates that individuals who engage in both activities are significantly more prone to developing mouth cancer. Disturbingly, smoking not only adds to but multiplies the existing risk from drinking in this context.

Other health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and liver cancer, are influenced by both alcohol and tobacco. Yet, it remains unclear whether the combined risk surpasses the cumulative risks of drinking and smoking separately. While some evidence suggests a more severe combined effect for liver cancer, there doesn't seem to be such a "synergistic" impact for cardiovascular disease.

In general, studies have demonstrated that individuals who both smoke and drink elevate their risk of overall mortality more than those who do not engage in either habit or only partake in one of them.

How does Quitting Smoking and Drinking Benefit You?

Ceasing smoking:

  • Enhances health and improves the quality of life
  • Decreases the risk of premature death, potentially adding up to 10 years to life expectancy
  • Lowers the risk of various adverse health effects, including negative reproductive health outcomes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cancer
  • Provides advantages to individuals already diagnosed with coronary heart disease or COPD
  • Positively impacts the health of pregnant women, as well as their fetuses and babies
  • Alleviates the financial burden associated with smoking for individuals, healthcare systems, and society as a whole

While quitting earlier in life yields greater health benefits, quitting smoking is advantageous at any age. Even individuals who have smoked for an extended period or heavily will experience benefits from quitting.

Ceasing drinking alcohol:

  • Enhances safety from road accidents and injuries
  • Improves heart and vessel health
  • Promotes liver healing and functioning
  • Promotes healthier weight loss
  • Lowers the risk of cancer
  • Betters your sex life
  • Improves sleep span and quality
  • Improves your immunity
  • Lowers the high blood pressure

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