Our Readers' Opinions
May 27, 2016
Smoking! What you were not told

by Jason Young,

Medical Intern

Though many people are unaware of it, studies show that tobacco smoke has effects on every part of the body from crown of the head to tips of the toes. In this article, I hope to raise awareness of the tobacco’s effects on the body, by narrating two cases that can and probably have happened.

The first case is that of Joe – a 66-year-old who was introduced to smoking by older boys from the age of 13. Joe smoked 2 packs per day for over 50 years. Over the years when told by his daughters, “Daddy, you smoking too much,” Joe would be heard to say: “Well, girl, something got to carry me home”.{{more}}

Joe was a good musician and lived for the music and a nice lime, but over the last few years, Joe seemed to be slowing down and losing his touch on the guitar. He thought it was just old age. One morning, Joe was found in his bed, unable to speak and barely able to move. His daughters rushed him into the “Casualty” where the doctor told them he had had a stroke and that the main risk factor or cause for this stroke was likely his long history of smoking. Joe had thought, like many others, that smoking could only cause lung disease. He didn’t realize that the nicotine in the tobacco also caused damage to arteries that bring blood to the brain and other parts of the body. The damage to Joe’s arteries caused atherosclerosis – a build-up of white blood cells, and smooth muscle cells that have absorbed cholesterol to become foam cells. This build-up forms a fibrous, fatty plaque inside the wall of the arteries, and reduced the blood supply to parts of Joe’s brain, causing the cells known as neurons – to die. Scans showed that over the years, Joe had experienced many small strokes; this one, however, was ‘big’, and after this, Joe was never able to play his music or go liming again.

Next, we will see that smoking can even cause disease in the stomach. Rohan is a 22-year-old college student, who, from the ripe old age of 16, got into smoking tobacco and sharing ‘weed’ with his friends. What Rohan did not know was that the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori (H-pylori), which is associated with stomach ulcers, is spread from human to human via saliva. Passing “spliffs” and cigarettes from friend to friend had led to the entire “Posse” being infected with H-Pylori. The stomach ulcer Rohan developed as a result of the infection was worsened by his smoking, to the point of eroding all the way through the stomach wall.

Smoking was all fun games, until Rohan had to be brought into the hospital at three o’clock one morning, screaming for pain throughout his entire abdomen. He had to be rushed into surgery before he became septic. Like many young people, Rohan would never have believed that smoking could produce such an excruciating and life threatening disease in a person his age, had he not gone through the “exquisite” experience for himself.

The moral of our stories is that smoking can not only cause cancer throughout the human body, but it can also cause atherosclerosis and ischemia, which is a loss of blood supply, in almost any part of the body. Smoking is bad for our bodies and bad for those around us. If you don’t smoke, don’t start, and if you do smoke, please find a way to stop. Each year away from smoking reduces risk of developing disease.