Many older Americans grew up in a time and culture when smoking was not only commonplace, it was heavily advertised to them and even encouraged, being portrayed as a habit that was glamorous and sophisticated. Pick up a stack of magazines from the 50’s or the 60’s and not only will you see many, many glossy, full page advertisements trying to entice readers into buying cigarettes with beautiful models and exotic locales, you’ll probably be quite surprised to see that many of those advertisements even feature doctors, nurses, and other health professionals lighting up cigarettes while speaking glowingly about the health benefits of whatever particular cigarette brand the ad is trying to sell to you.
Of course we all know better now, and the negative health consequences from cigarette smoking are well documented and well studied. Cigarette packages are labeled with clear and direct warnings as to the danger of smoking, and most of the only cigarette related ads you see anymore are the ones encouraging you to quit smoking. In fact, the negative health effects of smoking are so clearly understood that given the space available on a pack of cigarettes, it would be physically impossible to list all of them in a text readable by human eyes. Recent studies have linked smoking to things like:
- Dementia: Kaiser Permanente performed a study that tracked over 21,000 people over the course of more than 20 years, and found that heavy smoking in midlife increases the overall risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a staggering 157%, and the risk of vascular dementia by an even more incredible 172%. The American Heart Association has also found that the more that a person smokes, the worse their performance on cognitive tests will be. Smoking also raises the risk of stroke-related dementia.
- Pain: According to reporting done by the American Pain Society, smokers are much more likely to experience muscle and joint pain. And due to the frequent coughing and hacking that many smokers, especially long term heavy smokers, have, abdominal pressure and back pain can be increased. The University of Kentucky experts additionally have reported that the nicotine that makes cigarettes addictive can also sensitize the pain receptors of the body, which causes smokers to simply perceive more pain.
- Sensory Loss: There have been numerous studies published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology which show that smoking raises the risk of a number of conditions that damage eyesight, such as dry eye, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and optic nerve problems. Recent studies have also linked smoking to hearing loss.
- Osteoporosis: According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone strength. This has the twin effect of increasing the risk of fractures, and also then slowing the healing of bones.
Smoking harms not only the lungs, but nearly every organ in the body, including the heart. Smoking is bad for your oral health, and can cause erectile dysfunction in men, and is responsible for nearly a half a million deaths each year in the United States.